KINGSTON – Ulster County Executive Mike Hein signed into law legislation that he had proposed, and the Legislature refined, to prohibit cyber-bullying in Ulster County and help protect victims.
County Executive Hein was joined by Kenneth Ronk Jr., Chair of the Ulster County Legislature; Legislator Carl Belfiglio; Legislator Chris Allen; Ulster County District Attorney D. Holley Carnright; Jeff Rindler, the Executive Director of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center; and Jane Clementi, Co-Founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation and mother of Tyler Clementi – an 18 year old victim of bullying who tragically ended his life in 2010 and focused national attention on the need for new tools to help prevent cyber-bulling.
“All of our children are precious and need to know there is help and protection available,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. “I am proud of all of the work achieved in collaboration with schools, parents and our stakeholders who assisted in developing this valuable tool to hold those who engage in cyber-bullying accountable. As technology continues to advance at an ever increasing pace, our youth are more and more susceptible to cyber-bullying with access to the internet and social media at their fingertips. Cyber-bullying is a serious issue and can be devastating to the victim and their family, and can lead to anxiety, depression and in severe cases suicide.”
“When I was a kid home was the one place where a bullied kid was safe,” said Kenneth J. Ronk, Jr., Chair of the Ulster County Legislature. “Today cyber-bullying doesn’t just happen at school. It no longer just happens face to face. It follows the victim home and can impact every corner of their life. This Cyber- Bullying Law is an example of legislation catching up with technology. This law will be a tool for law enforcement to offer some level of protection for victims and identify bullies before they do any more damage.”
“The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center applauds County Executive Mike Hein and the Ulster County Legislature for understanding the serious potential impact of cyber-bulling,” said Jeff Rindler, Executive Director of Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center. “This law allows us to teach our children that behavior has consequences and hopefully make our youth think twice before hitting the `send button.´”
“I am pleased to support Ulster County and County Executive Mike Hein for their forward thinking, understanding and recognition of the need to protect the children of Ulster County from the potential harms of cyber-bullying,” said Jane Clementi, Co-Founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation.
The new law prohibits cyber-bullying of persons under the age of eighteen who are in Ulster County and includes the following prohibitions:
A person is guilty of Cyber-Bullying of a Minor when: with the intent to harass, abuse, intimidate, torment, or otherwise inflict emotional harm on a minor, the actor electronically transmits, anonymously or otherwise:
- information about such minor which has no legitimate communicative purpose and the actor knows or reasonably should know that the electronic transmission of the information will cause harm to the minor’s reputation or the minor’s relationships with the minor’s parents, family members, friends, peers, employers, and school administrators and faculty; or
- private sexual information about the minor; or
- a photograph or a video, whether real or altered, that depicts any uncovered portion of the breasts, buttocks, or genitals of the minor and said photograph or video has no legitimate communicative purpose; or
- false sexual information about the minor; or
- information that has no legitimate communicative purpose by appropriating the minor’s name, likeness, e-mail accounts, websites, blogs for the purpose of harassing such minor or other minors.
County Executive Hein was joined by Jane Clementi of the Tyler Clementi Foundation which she co-founded with her husband Joseph Clementi. The Clementi’s son Tyler ended his life in 2010 after losing their son to suicide due to bullying. The Tyler Clementi Foundation works to end online and offline bullying in schools, workplaces and faith communities in the United States. For more information please visit http://tylerclementi.org/.
Annually, County Executive Hein participates in No Name-Calling Week, a national bullying prevention week which is co-sponsored by GLSEN and the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center in order to raise awareness of bullying and to celebrate kindness. Over the years the County has developed webcasts, videos for elementary and middle school students, visited school assemblies and classrooms and collaborated with other local youth groups. In addition, Ulster County has recently partnered with the Voice Theatre to provide over 50 anti-bullying workshops at six high schools throughout the County, and the Don’t Be A Monster Program during National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month in October. For more information please visit http://ulstercountyny.gov/executive/stop-bullying.