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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 17, 2018 01:59 PM
From: Senator John P. Blake
To: All Senate members
Subject: Bullying - Definitions and Penalties
I will soon be re-introducing Senate Bill 462 of the 2017-18 session to define and penalize the offense of “bullying” in Pennsylvania. At present, the Pennsylvania Crimes Code does not define “bullying,” but rather leaves authorities no option other than to categorize such behavior under one of four, often unsuitable statutory offenses: disorderly conduct, harassment, simple assault, or terroristic threats. My legislation would define the crime of “bullying” as the intent to: harass, annoy, alarm or intimidate another individual or group of individuals; or, place another individual or group of individuals in fear of personal injury or property damage.

An offense committed by a minor would constitute a third degree misdemeanor, with a third or subsequent offense constituting a second degree misdemeanor. Offenses committed by an adult would constitute a second degree misdemeanor with a third or subsequent offense constituting a first degree misdemeanor.

While bullying has been present on the playground, on the school bus, in the classroom, and in the workplace for ages, the advent of the internet and social media has made it nearly impossible for victims to escape such abuse. After meeting with the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s office and reading some now-infamous accounts of how modern-day bullying has led to suicide and other horrible aftereffects, I felt compelled to introduce this legislation without delay.

While we should not attempt to legislate morality, we have a duty to protect the vulnerable and abused of all ages by supporting this serious deterrent to such behavior.

Prior co-sponsors included Senators Reschenthaler, Fontana, Browne, Rafferty, Costa, Tartaglione, Williams and Hughes.

Introduced as SB564