NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (WKTV) - Oneida County legislators passed a new cyber-bullying law Wednesday, after seeing a a strong need within the school systems and community. With no system in place to tackle cyber-bullies outside of school, multiple legislators decided it was their job to implement a law to keep the community safe from cyber harassment.
The law was created from a blend of four other New York county's laws that are already in place.
Harmoney Speciale, Oneida County Legislator said both adults and children are being affected by the cyber- bullying in Oneida County. She hopes this will alter future perpetrators, " It has to be online obviously, not bullying in person. It has to take place via the internet, cell phones, text messaging, picture messaging. It can be creating a fake website, doctoring images, posting images that are defamatory or hurt someone," Speciale said, "it has to be repeated and it has to cause the person to fear for their safety or for fear of their property being destroyed or create a substantial affect on their emotional and mental health."
In order to bring a case to court, the victim must have a trail to prove the harassment is constant.
The message Speciale wants sent to the community: Cyber bullying is wrong and won't be tolerated in Oneida County any longer, a message Rebecca Gonyea, a New Hartford woman and mother of one said is important for her three year old, " This law is making me really happy! That there are people out there that want to do something and see that there's a problem."
Gonyea was bullied as a child and hopes her daughter will never have to endure the trials and anguish she experienced in middle school and high school.
"I think if people talk about it in school to children see that there is a law if they see something they might be more apt to speak up for themselves or somebody else," Gonyea said.
The law is not strictly for school aged children. Adults who are bullied online repeatedly can report the harassment, and that goes for people who are being harassed by anonymous users. With blogs and forums like Topix, Speciale wants the public to know, even if a user is anonymous, they can find you, " Before anonymous perpetrators could get away with it. It's not easy anymore, we have ways to pull IP addresses and it's easier to find out who anonymous perpetrator is." Speciale said the new Cyber-Forensic class at Utica College will help with finding these users who hide behind their computer screens.
If you are convicted of cyber-bullying you may be paying a fine between $500 and $1,000 dollars or spending up to one year in jail.