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Bill Would Ratchet Up Repercussions for Cyber-Bullies in Schools

Legislation seeks to criminalize online harassment, require kids and their parents to attend counseling

By John Mooney, Courtesy of NJ Spotlight

Attempts to address the already high-profile problem of cyber-bullying in New Jersey’s schools could intensify dramatically under a bill making its way through the state Senate. The bill sponsored by state Sens. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) and Nicholas Sacco (D-Hudson) would essentially criminalize online harassment and other intimidation, whether by adults or minors, adding the new crime of “cyber-harassment” to the books.

The bill was endorsed unanimously by the Senate budget committee last week. An Assembly bill has yet to be heard in committee. Much of the attention of the bill has been on actions by adults and proposed penalties of as much as five years in prison. The law would apply not only to harassment online, but also to the transmission of lewd or obscene materials.

But the stakes would be high for minors, too, with rules that are only slightly different, although the sanctions for minors call as much for counseling as incarceration. The bill would also hold parents accountable to some extent for the first time, requiring them to attend counseling, as well, or face their own penalties.

Read more at NJSpotlight.com

NJ Spotlight is an issue-driven news website that provides critical insight to New Jersey’s communities and businesses. It is non-partisan, independent, policy-centered and community-minded.

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