Michigan lawmaker introduces new bills to make cyberbullying a crime
LANSING, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) —
Lawmakers are zeroing in on cyberbullying with new bills that would make it a crime to post hurtful messages on social media.
Political Reporter Nick Minock reported that this legislation doesn't just apply to minors who cyberbully.
The proposed law also applies to adults because bullying, as one lawmaker says, hits all age brackets. If you have a social media account, chances are you've seen hurtful slurs and abusive language in the comments section.
Kiera Johnson, a Michigan resident "I hate the expression that sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt. And, they do."
The crude comments can leave lasting scars.
Katrina Ellens, a Michigan resident, said, "My friend was cyberbullied and she got really depressed about it and she went through therapy."
And for others, Cyberbullying gets so bad that they take their own lives, which is what happen to kiera Johnson's friend who was last seen at the Detroit River.
Johnson said, “He jumped in and committed suicide."
To slow this epidemic, new bills from Pete Lucido would make cyberbullying that leads to death or suicide a felony.
Sending an online message that leads to assault would also become a misdemeanor crime.
Pete Lucido, R-Shelby Township, said, "People have to wake up and realize what they say to somebody on the informal highway, the internet, Facebook, Twitter, it's there forever. It never goes away and it kind of scars somebody for the rest of their lives and that never goes away either."
Sharif Taupi, a Michigan resident, said, "Some people think they're just joking or it's fun for them, but it's going to hurt the other people."
Cyberbullying isn't limited to kids or young adults, Taupi sees cyberbullying directed at his heritage.
He said, "Just maybe because of my name."
He and others feels it's time to give law enforcement and prosecutors tools to charge cyber bullies, which is the goal of Lucido's legislation.
Thirty-four other states have some form of cyberbullying laws, but critics say the legislation in Michigan is too broad and violates the first amendment right to free speech.