As I pointed out to a commenter after my post on Trump "paddling" Katy Tur ( July 9 ), bullying can also entail verbal assaults on a person. This can lead to the victim's drastic loss of self-esteem to the point of even committing suicide. Now, here in Colorado, that stands to be rectified with the passage of an anti-cyberbullying provision for a new anti-harassment law. According to The Denver Post (July 13): "Lawmakers sought a response to a problem that has taken a particular toll among kids and young adults."
Colorado's new measure is called "Kiana Arellano's Law" after a Highland's Ranch teen who attempted suicide after being cyberbullied" took hold on July 1st. Kiana's mom Kristy testified on behalf of the legislation and noted her daughter -once a cheerleader- is now paraplegic and unable to speak.
Ironically, an earlier 2014 effort to pass such a bill failed, and critics called it "too broad".
Afterwards, lawmakers asked the state Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to review the issue and make recommendations. The resulting subcommittee included law enforcement, educators as well as the ACLU . They examined dozens of cyberbullying laws around the nation and noted Colorado needed to tweak its existing harassment law.
In the case of the new law, according to the Post:
"Cyberbullying has to rise to criminal intent to alarm, annoy or harass and it can be either direct or indirect . Thus, an online posting need not be directly sent to an individual victim 'to fall under the statute."
With the new legal language in place and even prison time now designated for violators, the proponents of the law "want to see parents and schools talk about online rules, i.e. 'netiquette', and stress that people shouldn't do or say anything in the cyber world that they wouldn't do or say in person."
Whether the new law is sufficient to address the issue remains to be seen.