AMHERST, NY ( release )
Erie County legislators Ray Walter and Ed Rath held a press conference to announce that they are co-sponsoring legislation to help bring an end to cyber-bullying, the act of online harassment against a minor. The pair highlighted the need for laws to evolve with the ever-changing landscape of our technological world.
“Cyber-bullying is a serious problem facing our children that many of us did not have to deal with in our younger years, and it is government’s responsibility to protect the youth of our community from this threat,” said Walter. “As a father, I want my children to grow up in a safe, nurturing environment, free of harassment both in person and online. I urge my colleagues in the Erie County Legislature to join me in bringing an end to cyber-bullying so not one more child needlessly suffers.”
“As public officials we have a responsibility to our citizenry to ensure that the bullying, ignorance and intolerance that drove Jamey Rodemeyer to end his life never happens again. We cannot wait for New York State to make cyber-bullying illegal, as county legislators we need to take immediate action to protect targeted youth,” stated Legislator Rath.
The recent death of Williamsville North High School freshman Jamey Rodemeyer displays the need for tougher penalties to curtail harassment. Jamey’s suicide may have been avoided if the proper structure was in place to combat cyber-bullying, Walter said.
“Jamey needed help, and because New York is lagging in its attention to cyber-bullying, he did not get the assistance he so desperately needed,” said Walter. “Nothing we can do will bring this bright, young man back to his family and our community. We can only take Jamey’s tragic death and make it the turning point when New York finally woke up and said ‘We have a serious problem in front of us, and we are going to address it head-on.’”
“From adults to minors, cyber-bullying is escalating and this dilemma will not go away,” added Rath. “In particular social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace have made this issue a pervasive threat in our communities. We must act now.
The University at Buffalo recently established the Jean M. Alberti Center for the Prevention of Bullying, Abuse and School Violence, a national research center to address and prevent bullying. Walter noted that Western New York’s government and institutions have needed to take their own steps to address cyber-bullying due to inaction at the state level.
“With legislation to crack down on cyber-bullying stalling in state government, it’s time for Western New Yorkers to take matters into our own hands,” said Walter. “Our children’s safety is worth too much to sit by and wait for someone else to intervene. I worry about cyber-bullying affecting my children, as I know many parents in our community do. It’s time to take this issue head-on for the sake of our families.”
The Erie County Legislation is modeled after similar laws that were enacted in 2010 by the Albany, Rensselaer and Suffolk county government.
“I call on my fellow legislators to immediately approve this Local Law in order to protect our vulnerable citizens and youths in Erie County,” concluded Rath.