According to the current New Jersey law, it is not illegal to harass minors online. However, this is about to change as the Senate of New Jersey, a state with one of the strongest anti-bullying laws in the nation, prepares to vote on a new bill which would close this loophole.
Senate Bill 2469, sponsored by Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, and Sen. Nicholas Sacco, D-North Bergen, creates the crime of cyber-harassment.
According to the bill, “a person commits the crime of cyber harassment if, while online using any electronic device or using a social networking site and with the purpose to harass another, that person: 1) threatens to injure or harm a person or that person’s property 2) send or post any lewd, indecent or obscene material to or about a person 3) threaten to commit a crime against a person or his or her property.”
It will make cyber-harassment punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000, but if the offender is over the age of 21, the crime will be punishable by three to five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $15,000. If the offender is a minor under age 16, the court may order the offender and his or her parents to complete a program “intended to reduce the tendency toward cyber-harassment behavior … or to bring awareness to the dangers associated with cyber-harassment.”
The move to pass this bill has been intensified by the rise in the victims of cyberbullying associated with the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and the recent tragic story of Rutgers University’s student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after being cyberbullied.
“An increasing number of students are reporting having been the victim of online harassment, and in too many cases the torment these children have been forced to endure have let to suicide attempts or worse … This bill will make sure that our laws specifically address this conduct and that law enforcement officials have the tools necessary to prosecute individuals who participate in cyber harassment,” read the statement by Sen. Sacco.
More About ETCB:
The End to Cyber Bullying Organization is the world’s number one source for up-to-date cyberbullying information, news, legislature, and cyberbullying prevention tips. ETCB is instantly accessible online, and phone assistance by certified and professional cyber bullying counselors is available to any inquiring individuals. Highlighting cyberbullying as a leading issue in today’s technological society and raising awareness throughout the web and throughout communities is the first and primary step to putting an end to cyberbullying.
A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, ETCB is an international cyberbullying awareness campaign that has united over 4.5 million individuals internationally. Youth initiatives have started up in not only the fifty states, but also in nations such as China and the UK. Partnering with other organizations, such as the Girl Scouts of USA and Sears Anti-Bullying Coalition, has enabled us to outreach even further. All of the money raised has been utilized to continue expanding ETCB, helping to increase the impact we’ve made. Most importantly, we are grateful to have comforted and served thousands of cyberbullying victims of all ages. Future victims no longer need to feel as isolated and helpless as I once did.