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Georgians Ask House for Study on Cyber-Bullying Law

Georgia residents today gave testimony before a House committee in support of HR 553, which would create a House study committee on cyber-bullying.

Meanwhile, a new cyber-bullying law will go into effect in the state of Michigan on March 27, 2019. In advance of the new law taking effect, Livingston County Sheriff's office deputy Bill Schuster spoke to parents about keeping kids safe online via a video shared on Detroit Free Press.

Ben Halpert, founder of Savvy Cyber Kids, told his state representatives, “Those wishing to cause our children harm now have more effective ways of doing so. The smartphone, any internet-enabled device, has taken the front door off our homes and invited in threats to our children.

“Thanks to iPhones, Android phones, and other technology, the bullied child is not only tormented at school, but also through their device, whether it is a school-issued Chromebook or their personal tablets, smartphones, computers or gaming systems.”

Halpert, who visits schools across the country to talk to students and staff about cybersecurity and online safety, said that before his presentations he issues students an anonymous poll asking what their biggest issue is with social media.

“It is always bullying,” Halpert wrote in his testimony.

“According to the Georgia Department of Education Georgia Student Health Survey, THOUSANDS of students are cyberbullied DAILY in our state through social media. But this is not just a student issue. Adults are targets of bullying and cyberbullying as well. We need to do more for the citizens of Georgia by studying the potential for legislation that addresses cyberbullying.”

Titania Jordan, chief parenting officer of Bark, also testified before the House committee. “Our technology has analyzed more than a billion messages, and our findings are harrowing. In 2018 alone, based on Bark data, over 60% of tweens and 70% of teens experienced cyberbullying, whether as a bully, a victim, or a witness,” Jordan's testimony read.

“And frankly, the term itself – cyberbullying – feels a little cutesy. What it really is? Online harassment, verbal abuse, threats, and even extortion.”

In support of her assertion that the House committee needs to take action, Jordan added, “The onus is on us as parents, communities, and governments, to address the proliferation of cyberbullying and its subsequent effects on our children. We ask that the House see the imperative need to start a subcommittee to confront cyberbullying.”

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