Can Proposed Westchester Cyberbullying Hotline Curb Harassment?

County lawmakers’ latest efforts could help prevent online abuse toward children.

Cyberbullying continues to be a major problem among adolescents, with advocacy group Cyberbullying Research Center concluding that 25 percent of students surveyed over an eight-year period have experienced online harassment at some point in their lifetime. Perhaps that’s why two Westchester County lawmakers—Legislators Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) and Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh)—recently proposed the creation of a countywide, toll-free, anonymous hotline to report instances of cyberbullying.

Unlike past proposals, Jenkins and Williams’ focuses on preventative measures, as punishments have already been written into existing laws. As lohud reported, the initiative would aim to be a collaborative effort with the Westchester’s Human Rights Commission to extend outreach available to victimized youth via cyberbullying awareness programs and an anti-cyberbullying website.

The only consideration, then, is whether a hotline can noticeably curb the troubling trend. According to Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, “a hotline can be very helpful for individuals who see the bullying and want to help” and help document “the tangible history of what’s happening.” Although she adds that, while it’s important for teachers and administrators participate in outreach, cyberbullying continues during the summer when kids are out of school, making it crucial any prevention involves all members of the community, and that “everyone is on the same page.”

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For more information on, and resources related to, cyberbullying, visit www.cyberbullying.org.

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