Should Erie County Have Cyber Bullying Law?

November 10, 2011 Updated Nov 11, 2011 at 8:29 AM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

November 10, 2011 Updated Nov 11, 2011 at 8:29 AM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW)- There was an open dialogue with the public inside the chambers of the Erie County Legislature Thursday to discuss enacting a Cyber Bullying Law in the county.

In October, Erie County Legislators Ray Walter and Ed Rath proposed legislation to help combat against online cyber bullying. The law would make it a crime to send any type of abusive, threatening, or humiliating electronic message or post to minors in Erie County. The law is geared toward minors who are under 18 years old and cases would be handled in family court. Violators would face up to a $1,000 fine and/or a year in jail.

"What's happening in our community through social media is an epidemic," said Legislator Rath. "We need to take every step we can to make sure tragic circumstances like what happened to Jamey Rodemeyer never happen again."

Jamey Rodemeyer, a Williamsville North High School Student, committed suicide in September after enduring years of harrassment by bullies because of struggles with his sexuality. Legislators will vote on the cyber bullying law next week. If passed, the county executive will have to sign off on the legislation for final approval. If this law is approved, Erie would become the 4th county in New York to implement a cyber-bullying law.