Pro­posed law on cy­ber-bul­ly­ing sent back to com­mit­tee

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Pa­tri­cia Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­ pat­ti­at­free­man on Twit­ter

A pro­posed law pro­hibit­ing cy­ber bul­ly­ing in Ul­ster County was sent back to leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion amid con­cerns the law would turn young per­pe­tra­tors into crim­i­nals.

“We don’t want to cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where we’re cre­at­ing more records for kids,” said Leg­is­la­tor Da-

vid Don­ald­son. “You don’t want to au­to­mat­i­cally make them a vic­tim also.”

Un­der the law as pro­posed, ju­ve­niles un­der the age of 16 found guilty of us­ing the in­ter­net to bully another would be pros­e­cuted in Fam­ily Court.

First-time vi­o­la­tors who are 16 or older would be charged with a mis­de­meanor. Re­peat vi­o­la­tors could be sen­tenced to jail.

Don­ald­son, D-Kingston, called cy­ber bul­ly­ing “worse than phys­i­cal bul­ly­ing,” say­ing “you can never es­cape it.

“You go home, you face it. Wher­ever you go, you face it,” he said, adding that, as a for­mer teacher, “I’ve seen what it has done to some kids.”

But it was the pos­si­bil­ity of those guilty of cy­ber bul­ly­ing end­ing up with crim­i­nal records — even though the youths may be el­i­gi­ble for youth­ful of­fender sta­tus — that gave Don­ald­son, DKingston, pause.

“We’re still deal­ing with kids,” he said. “You don’t want to au­to­mat­i­cally make them a vic­tim also.

Leg­is­la­ture Chair­man Ken Ronk, who spon­sored the lo­cal law, agreed to have the res­o­lu­tion set­ting a pub­lic hear­ing on the mea­sure sent back to com­mit­tee, de­spite what he said are his own reser­va­tions about de­lay­ing the vote.

“There’s been a lot of dis­cus­sion about the pos­si­ble per­pe­tra­tor and a lot less dis­cus­sion about the vic­tim,” said Ronk, R-Wal­lkill, who said that, as a youth, he was the vic­tim of bul­ly­ing.

While he said he was con­cerned about young­sters end­ing up with a crim­i­nal record, “I want us also to be cog­nizant of the vic­tim of the bully who are right now not get­ting the jus­tice they de­serve.

Leg­is­la­tor Carl Belfiglio, who was the lone leg­is­la­tor to vote against send­ing the mea­sure back to com­mit­tee, said a law with teeth in it will “help change be­hav­iors.” “When you break the law, you have penal­ties,” said Belfiglio, R-Eso­pus. “There are con­se­quences to life.” Don­ald­son said he has asked Ul­ster County Pub­lic De­fender An­drew Kossover to look at the lo­cal law and make rec­om­men­da­tions be­fore leg­isla­tive com­mit­tees meet again in Novem­ber.

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