TRENTION — In light of the findings by a recent study, Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove are requesting committee consideration of their legislation (S-119/A-311) that would establish the crime of “cyber-harassment” in New Jersey.
The south Jersey Republican delegation’s request is in response to the release of a report by the National Institute of Health (NIH) which found that victims of cyber bullying may be more likely to feel depressed, socially isolated or dehumanized than victims of physical beatings and intimidations. This week, Connors, Rumpf and Gove sent letters to the respective chairpersons of the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees requesting that their legislation be posted for consideration.
The 9th District Legislators issued the following joint statement on their efforts to prevent future acts of cyber harassment:
“As research continues to show, cyber bullying and cyber harassment are increasingly becoming more pervasive in our society, especially in our school systems, causing greater psychological harm to our children as the Internet continues to be more frequently used as a means of public communication. To curtail this growing form of harassment, our delegation has proposed to establish new penalties that can be used by law enforcement and the courts to prosecute and convict persons using the Internet, E-mail, texting and other forms of electronic devices to intimidate others.
Our legislation would provide a legal recourse for prosecutors and victims intent on stopping this emerging form of abusive behavior that all too often involves school children. The circumstance which prompted our delegation to introduce this legislation involved attempts by an individual to embarrass students and teachers at a particular school through the posting of false information and digitally altered pictures.
“By updating the state’s existing harassment statute to criminalize cyber harassment, we are helping to ensure that our judicial system is keeping pace with the new form of crimes evolving through advancing technologies and corresponding changes in our society.”
This delegation’s bill provides that a communication which is made anonymously or otherwise by means of an electronic communication device for the purpose of harassing another person shall constitute a petty disorderly offense. The term “electronic communication device” would be defined as including, but not limited to, a telephone, cellular telephone, computer, computer network, computer system, video recorder, facsimile machine or pager.
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