HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Legislation that would make it a crime to bully a child on Facebook, Twitter and other social media is headed to the desk of Governor Tom Wolf to become law.
House Bill 229 passed the Senate unanimously on Monday.
The legislation would make it illegal to use any electronic communications to harass, annoy, or alarm a child by making threats of harm or by repeatedly offering opinions about a child’s sexuality, sexual activity, or their mental or physical health or condition.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin), said every child has the right to grow up free from intimidation, torment and emotional distress.
“Bullying causes serious emotional distress to children of all ages, and in some cases it has turned deadly when the child victim takes his or her own life,” Marsico said in a statement. “Cyber space appears to have emboldened bullies and made the problem much more pervasive. It’s time to take our fight against it up a notch.”
Cyber harassment of a child, whether directly to the child or through social media, would be a third-degree misdemeanor. Adults would face up to a year in jail, while minors could be ordered to participate in an educational program on the consequences of cyber harassment.
If signed by the governor, the bill would become law in 60 days.