Saturday, August 30, 2014

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Mohawk Valley

Cyberbullying as a crime?

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Albany/HV: Cyberbullying as a crime?
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Schoolyard bullies are nothing new, but advocates for a bill to make bullying on the internet a crime say the state isn't doing enough to protect children. Our Lori Chung has more on the push for a new cyberbullying law that's bringing some firsthand testimony.

ALBANY, N.Y.-- "At the end of fifth grade, it just suddenly became all of these other people who did not know me, [and] I had no idea who they were."

Growing up in the digital age came at a cost for Jamie Isaacs, 16. She was the victim of a cyberbullying campaign by other students at her elementary school.

"I would go online just to chat with my friends and these girls would just instantly start attacking me," said Isaacs.

The Long Island teenager is now part of a campaign herself, but with the goal to make cyberbullying a crime in New York. She's lending her voice to a study that the Independent Democratic Conference says proves the state's laws need updating.

"A whopping 58 percent of students surveyed said that in their schools, cyberbullying happens all the time," said Bronx Senator Jeff Klein.

But advocates say fewer than 20 percent of victims take steps to report it, many withdrawing into depression, some even turning to suicide. Jamie's mother says her family found little support from the school, where up to 22 students made her daughter a target, going so far as to create an "I hate Jamie" webpage.

They were told "'just mend the fence, it's just kid stuff', but it was way more than kid stuff to the point where they were sharpening pencils and stabbing her in the arms," said Anne Isaacs. "It was more than she could handle."

The proposed bill would make online harassment a class a misdemeanor. Jamie, now an author, says she's glad her story will help push for the legislation, but she doesn't want to see repeated with anyone else.

"I think everything happens for a reason and I think that that happened so that I can save bully victims," said Jamie Isaacs.

The reigning Miss New York, Kaitlyn Monte, a bullying victim in middle school,is also pushing for the bill. Advocates say they'd also like to see requirements for school districts to educate kids on the danger of cyberbullying. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP