Cyber bullies face the threat of fines and jail time under new legislation

DENVER - Proposed legislation could send cyber bullies in Colorado to jail.  The bill sponsored by Representative Rhonda Fields, (D-Aurora) will be introduced on Monday at the state capitol.

The legislation specifically targets electronic transmissions like text messages, emails and social media postings like Facebook and Twitter. 

If such messages lead anyone under 18-years-old to fear for their life or harm or commits suicide, the sender could be sentenced to three months in jail.

If someone's gender, race or sexual orientation is part of that threat -- the punishment jumps up to six months. The proposed cyber bully law is in addition to existing harassment laws, said Fields.

Fines could also be part of the punishment.

"A lot of our kids don't have the emotional maturity to handle some of the hateful things they read about themselves," she said.
For Mike Hennessey, who is the parent of a 10-year-old son, the threat of cyber bullies is an on-going concern.
"It's a difficult dynamic that's going to be have to dealt with in some way shape or form," he said.  "You're protected, by the ... fact you're not face to face."
Hennessey supports the legislation, but wants to make sure common sense is left in the mix.

"I don't like the idea of some kid having a tough time getting into college, when he's 18, because he sent a dumb text message when he was in eighth grade."

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