The Senate Committeee on Judiciary C sent a message to adults who bully children on the Internet when they advanced House Bill 1259 today that offers greater punishment for adults that bully children on the world wide web. The bill was proposed by State Representative Roy Burrell (D- Shreveport), who said the intent of his bill was to limit behavior that can lead to suicide in young adults. In other states, most recently Massachusetts, bullying and harassment on sites such as Facebook are being linked to the suicides of young adults.
House Bill 1259 would make it a crime to “coerce, abuse, torment, intimidate, frighten, harass, embarrass, or cause emotional distress” to anyone 17 years and younger through the Internet or any other electronic communication.
On March 18th, the bill was adjusted to take care of two problems brought to attention by members of the senate committee. The first concern, brought forward by State Sen. Ann Duplessis (D- New Orleans), regarded the punishment for adults. Originally six months in jail for a first offense, Duplessis was concerned that this would create a legal loophole to avoid harsher penalties included in the cyberstalking law already in the book. Instead, the bill was amended to include a penalty of up to one year in prison and a maximum of a $2,000 fine. Second, State Senator Conrad Appel called for a malicious intent clause to be placed in the bill to avoid unnecessary charges on innocent children.
After the amendments were included, the Committee voted 4-1 to send the bill to the Senate floor.