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County lawmakers say "yes" to Cyberbullying law

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Photo provided by Rath's office
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Erie County Legislator Ed Rath, a republican from Williamsville, co-sponsored Cyberbullying bill

The Erie County Legislature unanimously approved a new, local Cyberbullying law Thursday.

Last October, Erie County Legislator Ed Rath, a republican from Williamsville, was one of the co-sponsors of the bill.  

Offenders who conduct Cybergullying against students and children older than 16-years of age could face jail time.  Those under the age of 16 would be eligible for family court intervention.

Rath said in the wake of a suicide by a local bullying victim, Jamey Rodemeyer, it's time governments tackled the rising trend of taking bullying online.

“I am pleased that this local law was approved unanimously and that the Legislature took action to protect our youth. As the father of three children, I know firsthand how important it is that we do everything in our power to ensure their safety. Advancements in technology have made bullying hard to escape. I see this local law working as a deterrent and force potential offenders to reconsider what they write online or text. In the event someone is victim to cyberbullying, we now have the ability to hold offenders accountable,” said Legislator Rath. “Cyberbullying is a pervasive issue that affects our community, and Erie County is once again taking on a leadership role and responding to a serious issue. I hope that in response to the vote taken today that Albany will seriously consider passing a statewide law.”

Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, who has been a supporter of a statewide law, attended the session.

“This is a big step forward for Erie County in protecting our children on social networks.  Bullying now goes beyond the classroom, and now more than ever, it is important for children who are bullied and harassed online to have a means of protection,” said Assemblywoman Corwin. “This is a very important issue that I have sponsored legislation on in Albany, along with my colleagues in the Western New York Delegation; we will push to make this a statewide initiative.”

The state's so-called Dignity for All Act addressed bullying is scheduled to go into effect until next July.

The approved bill now heads to County Executive Mark Poloncarz.  He has 30 days to hold a public hearing and decide if the bill becomes law.