Taking on Cyberbullying

Elected officials held a news conference at a Queens high school that they hope will raise public awareness about cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying occurs when a person uses electronic means to hurt or embarrass another person. Cyberbullying has resulted in suicides by too many young people.

State Sen. Jeff Klein and state Assemblyman William Scarborough have co-sponsored a bill that would makes cyberbullying a misdemeanor if it is “likely to cause a fear of harm, or emotional distress to a person under the age of 21.” If the cyberbullying leads a sufferer to commit suicide, it becomes a felony.

The legislation comes in response to the suicide of Jamie Rodermeyer, an upstate teen who was allegedly cyberbullied because of his sexual orientation. According to Klein, 43 percent of the country’s teens say they are constantly cyberbullied.

This fight will not be easy. When does free speech become bullying? Tracing the origins of a text message can be difficult, if not impossible.

Although we support the legislation introduced by Klein and Scarborough, it needs to be accompanied by an effort in schools to sensitize students to the pain cyberbullying can cause. At the same time, schools must make certain that teenage victims have an outlet where they can safely discuss the bullying with an adult who can help them find effective ways to deal with it.

Keep Pressure On

The sexual assaults of five women and attempted rape of a sixth in southeast Queens is only made worse by the news that a 15-year-old boy has been charged in at least two of the attacks.

The suspect allegedly sexually assaulted and beat two women, 40 and 44. It is disturbing that a person that young could even be a suspect in such a crime, but the arrest still leaves four cases unresolved.

City Councilman James Sanders and his office have been active in the hunt for the predator or predators. The Guardian Angels have begun patrolling southeast Queens.

It is unacceptable that women should be afraid to walk the streets alone after dark, but that is the reality.

More from Around New York