Cyberbulling/Cyberstalking in the News:
Pew Research Center - Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites
The ECA stands against cyberstalking and cyberbullying, which is defined as one using the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass one or more people, or an organization. In our attempt to empower our members and the general public, we are posting links to the various cyberstalking bills across the United States so that interested parties can better protect themselves from such unlawful and dangerous behavior.
If you feel that you are the target of a cyberstalker or cyberbully, please contact your local law enforcement office(s) and your State Representative and/or State Senator. Their offices should be able to assist you.
Recently a startling situation came to light. Political columnist Laurie Penny, writing in the UK's The National, wrote an astonishing story highlighting the threats of physical violence and targeted abuse she receives in her public email inbox. Not just a few emails, either - dozens. Daily. Emails suggesting she should die, and also describing how the author (usually a man) would like to kill her. Or rape her. Or both.
This editorial struck a chord with me. As the editor of a number of online publications over the past 10 years, I, too, have witnessed this sort of cyberstalking, but not first-hand. I've seen it happen to every female writer I've ever hired and to every woman writer I know. Including my wife, who I met while editing her work and fielding her death threats. It might have been possible to think this was an isolated thng. Something that happened only in games journalism, or in the contentious political scene. But every woman to whom I have spoken about this issue has told me the exact same thing: It's happened to them, too. They've just gotten "used to it."
What strikes me most about this issue is not how widespread it is, but how most of the women who endure it have been encouraged (often by other women) to ignore it. There is a sense among many victims of this type of abuse that speaking out will only bring further abuse. That standing up for themselves will encourage their abusers to become more abusive. That refusing to be a victim will make one a target. And that the best survival strategy is to shut up and pretend it isn't happening.
It's chilling to see the language about cyberstalking take on the same tone as the language of physical abuse. And it's startling to see that a new generation of professional women are bravely inhabiting the careers opened up to them by their mothers and grandmothers only to suffer the same type of abuse as their progenitors. Only this time perpetrated by men hiding behind the anonymity of the internet.
I am currently working with the Electronics Consumers Association to raise awareness about the various state laws against cyberstalking and to help provide a resource center for women who feel they may be victims of this abuse. If you believe you have been the victim of cyberstalking or online sexual-related assault, check the list below for the applicable laws in your area. You may be able to pursue criminal action against your attacker. And if you can, then do. Report it. Speak out. Stand up. Don't let the people who would deprive you of your dignity hide behind an email. And let us know what you think we should do next. The ECA and I are hoping to move into fundraising early next year. This issue isn't going away.
Current Legislation Being Debated:
- H.R. 83 - Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act of 2011
- H.R. 975 - Anti-Bullying and Harassment Act of 2011
- H.R 1648/S. 506 - Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2011
- H.B. 127 - Passed and signed into law; omnibus crime bill.
- H.B. 2580 - Held in committee. Related to bullying, including through electronic means.
- H.B. 2415 - Passed and signed into law.
- S.B. 892 - Passed and signed into law
- A.B. 9 - Passed and signed into law
- A.B. 746 - Passed and signed into law - clarifies electronic acts means social networks -
- AB1156 - passed and signed - a lot of the same, includes ability for victim to transfer -
- S.B. 919 - active - Focused on sexting
- H.B. 6633 - legislation on stalking and updating stalking online sections
- H.B. 310 - second reading in house; continuing session
- H.B. 688 - passed and signed into law; rules relating to bullying
- H.B. 2935 - Passed and signed into law; creating cyberstalking as offense
- S.B. 69 - in Committee, session continues in 2012; adds cyberbullying definition to school
- L.D. 980 - carried over to next session - a clear, articulate anti-cyberbullying bill
- S.B. 124 - in committee, still in session - cyberbullying/stalking act that applies to children and adults.
- H.F. 765/S.F. 494 - model school bullying policy, includes cyberbullying - died in committee
- H.B. 1049 - prefiled for 2012, requires cyberbullying to be addressed in school policies -
- A. 452/S. 108 - In committee (died): Would have explicitly added technological means to stalking.
- A. 2355 - In committee (died): creates a new crime of cyber harassment.
- A. 2598 - held for consideration, otherwise same as above.
- S.B. 850 - In committee - makes cyberbullying a crime for minors