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Buono: Ny Teen Assault Video Shows Need For Strike Against Cyberbullies

TRENTON – Senator Barbara Buono said today that an online video showing three teens from North Babylon, NY assaulting another teen is just the latest example of why her bill targeting such acts of “cyberbullying” is needed in New Jersey.

“Those three teens really committed two crimes – first the physical assault in front of the school and then the emotional assault of posting the video online for their peers to watch,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “Unfortunately, the video may cause more harm to the victim than the initial assault, forcing her to repeatedly relive the attack and bringing her widespread embarrassment not only in her school but around the world.”

According to news reports, three teenage girls, all freshmen at North Babylon High School, physically assaulted a younger teenage girl on December 18. Suffolk County Police arrested the three teens yesterday after a video taken by one of the attackers was posted on the web sites MySpace and YouTube. The video shows the gang of teens punching, kicking and pulling the victim’s hair for several minutes.

“The sad reality is that there’s an audience for these videos that encourages such acts,” said Senator Buono. “These are acts of bullying, and the law needs to be changed to make this fact clear. Children too often think that the anonymous nature of the Internet absolves them of responsibility for their actions – they need to know that this is absolutely false.”

The Senator’s 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 one 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, messaging and online videos, Senator Buono said.

“Once the initial shock of the video wears off, you have to wonder ‘What were these girls thinking?'” added Senator Buono. “When teenagers think it’s a good idea to tape themselves attacking another person and then put it on MySpace for the world to see, then it’s clear that we need to do more to teach them how to properly behave. Common decency doesn’t end at the keyboard.”

The bill passed the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support on March 13, 2006. It has yet to get a hearing in the Assembly. Senator Buono said she will contact Assemblyman Craig Stanley to request a hearing for the bill in the Assembly Education Committee, where it has been referred, so that New Jersey can become a national leader in fighting back against incidents like the North Babylon assault video.

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