August 7, 2012
From: Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho
Līhu‘e – Cyber bullying is an increasing problem in Hawaii and is very different from school yard bullying that many of us remember. Unlike other crimes, however, cyber bullying has the unique ability to circulate through the world by just a short click of a button to quickly create severe and irrevocable harm to an individual.
Young people know that when someone is bullying them, the reaction is known and immediate. When the bullying occurs over the internet or cell phone, the perpetrator sometimes has no feedback to let him know the impact of his electronic comments; he goes on his way thinking that it is no big deal. The victim of the bullying, however, can be impacted as much as if the bullying was delivered directly to his face.
On June 28, 2012, Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the cyber bullying bill into law, that amended HRS Section 708-893, to include a prohibition of the use of a computer to pursue, surveil, contact, harass, annoy, or alarm a victim in committing an offense of harassment or harassment by stalking. A violation could be a class C felony or a misdemeanor depending on the severity of the action.
While the law applies to all ages, research shows that in Hawaii, at least 41 percent of teenagers have been cyber bullied at least once, either on the Internet or on their cell phones via text messaging. Cyber bullying is defined as sending or posting cruel messages, photos, or videos on the Internet or other electronic media with the intent of damaging the reputation of the target. With the increase in technology and the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, the potential for danger escalates.
“This law provides the teeth for Hawai’i law enforcement to further address those who would use electronic means to hurt our most precious assets – Hawai’i’s keiki, ” said Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, “We have been seeing an astronomical increase in these cyber bullying cases occurring, with some causing serious emotional trauma to the victims. “ You can view the new law in its entirety on the State of Hawai’i website at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2012/bills/GM1295_.PDF. For additional information, contact the Kaua’i County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney at 808-241-1888.