McCoy Says Recent Events Show Need For Albany County Cyberbullying Law
October 18, 2013
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today announced that the county plans a vigorous defense of Local Law “F” of 2010, the County Cyber-Bullying law, the constitutionality of which will be argued before the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.
McCoy said the county law is timely and a necessary tool for law enforcement in light of recent developments in Florida where two girls have charged in the bullying death and stalking of a 12-year-old girl. Earlier this year County Executive McCoy established the Albany County Bullying Prevention Task Force, which provides free programs and services for students, caregivers, educators and the public. A crucial component of the program is working to prevent cyberbullying and how parents can be aware that it is happening to their child.
“As a parent I was deeply troubled to read about the Florida case and the case we had here in Albany County. While the Internet can prove to be a useful tool and a crucial part of our everyday lives, there are those who hide behind the screen and engage in cyberbullying,” said McCoy. “This law sends the message that we will not tolerate this behavior. I am confident that the court will validate the law and our desire to protect people while online.”
In the first case prosecuted after the law took effect, a youth from Cohoes was charged in 2011 with 10 counts of cyberbullying for his role in creating a Facebook page featuring inappropriate content targeting students between the ages of 13 and 16.
He eventually pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor in the case. In two appeals cases, the constitutionality of law has been upheld. In August the Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case. It is likely that the case will be argued some time in 2014. The County Attorney’s office will argue the case. The Albany County statute is the first such cyberbullying law to be tested in state courts in the country.
In 2010 the county passed the law, which makes cyberbullying a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to a year in jail. The Albany County statute is the first such cyberbullying law to be tested in state courts in the country.
Cyberbullying is defined as repeated harm inflicted through the use of computer, cell phones and other electronic devices. According to a 2011 survey from the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 16 percent of students in grades 9-12 nationwide had been cyberbullied at some point in their lives.
Cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying in several ways:
In 2012 the state enacted the Dignity for All Students Act, an anti-bullying measure passed by the Legislature in 2010. The law requires schools to create policies to address and respond to the growing issue of cyberbullying, regardless of whether the bullying occurs on or off of school property.
Earlier this year the County Executive formed the Bullying Prevention Task Force, which provides programs and services for area students, faculty and caregivers on bullying prevention. In September the County Executive and the task force held an event at Farnsworth Middle School in Guilderland to launch a county-wide campaign highlighting the work for the task force and to raise public awareness around the issue.
The members of the task force are:
Lerner, Cornell Cooperative Extension- Albany County
Welling, BOCES of the Capital Region
Shultis, PRIDE Center of the Capital Region
Rafferty-Weinisch and Raydale Blaylock, Equinox Youth Services
Guilder and Kaitlin Wax, Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center