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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 11, 2014 03:48 PM
From: Representative Ron Marsico
To: All House members
Subject: Cyber Harassment of a Child - Previous HB 1163
With the advent of email and social networking, such as facebook, twitter and instagram, the ability of children (and even adults) to harass a child by repeatedly emailing or spreading seriously disparaging comments using social media has become all too prevalent. Most members have received letters from constituents about a child family member who was harassed over the internet and some may have a member of their own family who has suffered in this manner. The consequences can be devastating to a child. There have been numerous cases across the country where the harassment has become so acute, that a child took his or her own life as a result.

The current Harassment Statute, Section 2709 of the Crimes Code, is inadequate to address the ease with which a child can be harassed by means of electronic communication. I intend to introduce a bill that will amend this section of the Crimes Code to add a subsection dealing with cyber harassment of a child. It would make it a misdemeanor of the third degree to use electronic communications to repeatedly make statements or offer opinions about a child’s sexuality or sexual activity or make statements that significantly ridicule, demean or cause serious embarrassment to a child under the circumstances.

Cyber Harassment of a Child would be a misdemeanor of the third degree. This would allow intervention by law enforcement and juvenile probation officers who would initially review the case if it involved a juvenile offender. If appropriate, the case could be referred to juvenile court or the juvenile offender could be placed in a diversion program. An adult who engages in such conduct would be prosecuted in court, rather than be issued a summary citation, reflecting the seriousness of this form of child abuse.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.

Introduced as HB229