– Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) today praised his colleagues in the House of Representatives for passing House Bill 229
, which would make the cyber harassment of a child a criminally punishable offense.
“With the increased use of social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, children are more vulnerable than ever to round-the-clock bullying,” Ortitay said. “A far too common occurrence, almost everyone knows someone who has suffered from harassment online, and the result can be nothing short of devastating to a child.”
According to the bill, cyber harassment, more commonly recognized as cyber bullying, is repeated use of electronic communications to make statements or offer opinions about a child’s sexuality or sexual activity, physical characteristics and/or mental health that are intended to and would cause serious emotional distress to a child.
This legislation would make the cyber harassment of a child a misdemeanor of the third degree, allowing intervention by law enforcement and juvenile probation officers to initially review the case if it involves a juvenile offender. If appropriate, a juvenile offender could be placed in a diversionary program rather than formally adjudicated as a delinquent.
If the bill becomes law, an adult who engages in such conduct would be prosecuted in court, rather than be issued a summary citation, reflecting the seriousness of this form of child abuse.
“Cyber bullying is harassment, and this bill will ensure the punishment fits the crime,” Ortitay said.
House Bill 229 will now go to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Morgan Wagner