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Assembly Committee Approves Buono Bill To Curb Cyberbullies

TRENTON – The Assembly Education Committee today acted to curb taunts and threats sent by e-mail, text messaging or instant messaging by approving legislation sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono that would expand New Jersey’s school bullying laws to include new technologies.

“For bullies looking for new ways to torment their victims, cell phones and the Internet provide them with new, anonymous avenues by which to spread their taunts and threats,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “There are legitimate fears among who work with children that cyberbullying could be even more damaging to victims than traditional schoolyard bullying.”

The bill, S-993, would expand the definition of bullying to include harassment and intimidation that is inflicted via electronic communications. Electronic communication would be defined as a communication transmitted by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, cellular phone, computer or pager. This would encompass bullying delivered through e-mail, chat-rooms, instant messaging and text messaging.

“Websites like MySpace and Facebook make it easy to distribute gossip, taunts and unflattering photos with just a few clicks of a mouse. We need to make sure that our children realize that just because there are no physical threats, that this sort of behavior is somehow more acceptable,” explained Senator Buono.

Senator Buono noted that educating children and their parents about how to recognize cyberbullying is critical in counteracting its effects.

“The Internet may be second nature to young people now, but it is still in its infancy when it comes to treating others with respect and decency. Parents to impress upon their children that if they wouldn’t act a certain way in the real world, then they shouldn’t act that way on-line. Parents need to be involved with their children’s on-line activities and openly discuss issues like cyberbullying,” said Senator Buono.

The bill passed the Committee by a vote of 10-0 and now goes to the full Assembly for final legislative approval.

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