Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Jordan's Law Addresses Cyberbullying

We can all agree that teenagers, for a host of reasons not always their fault, are not the nicest of people. Especially when it comes to their fellow classmates. Each of us has our own experience with high school. Some of us were popular, some sports driven. Others dove headfirst into their studies. But for most people in high school, there was a need to ever remind one’s self: ‘this will all be over soon.’ Regardless of one's standing in the teenage social hierarchy.

It’s an unfortunate reality that in every high school there will always be some kids who catch the ire of other students. Classmates who, for whatever reason, feel the need to belittle students who are not at the top of the teenage pyramid of popularity. Constantly terrorizing certain students, for some, could be chalked up to as an extracurricular activity. And sadly, it’s a behavior that can leave lasting scars whether the assaults be verbal or physical.

Some of you reading this may have been bullied, or were bullies yourself. You may try to downplay what you did or what happened to you as just being a part of growing up. After all, this is high school we are talking about. But, if you follow the news you know that in some cases bullying goes far beyond anyone’s imagination of just how bad it can be for some students. What’s more, such abuses can be exponentially worsened by technology. Taking what would historically be harms that only the oppressor and oppressed would be witness to, are amplified by the use of social media for all to see. It’s worth pointing out that scars of oppression may dull with time, but the Internet never forgets. Allowing shame and humiliation to take an intemporal form.

“Jordan’s Law”

Last year, a Southern Californian teenager named Jordan, had his life changed (maybe forever) by the acts of two peers. Jordan was “suckered punched” by one of the boys, while the other filmed it, ABC 10 reports. The boy who filmed the incident blasted the video to the internet for everyone to see. What was a spot of fun for two bullies resulted in a ruptured ear drum, fractured skull, and a blood clot for then fourteen-year-old Jordan. The assault required hospitalization lasting nearly a week. 

Here is where the case gets tricky, the boy who punched Jordan faced charges, the girl recording the incident and posted it to Snapchat didn’t, according to the article. This led Jordan’s father, Ed Peisner, to work with Assembly Member Matt Dababneh to change the laws around posting to social media. Assembly Bill 1542 (Jordan’s Law) would make filming a violent attack with the purpose disseminating it on the Internet against the law. People who do so, could be held criminally responsible if AB 1542 is passed.

“Everybody’s posting… it’s out of control,” Peisner said. “[Jordan’s] emotional scars, they will last a lifetime.” 

One analogy works fairly well: You didn’t rob the bank, but you drove the getaway car. The driver is culpable, too. Jordan’s Law would not apply to innocent bystanders who just happen to catch such events on a smartphone, but to people who conspire to record a crime. Ed Peisner started The Jordanstrong Foundation, with the hope making people think twice about cyberbullying.

“That’s my hope… before they do something, they’ll pause for a second,” Patrick said.

Victims' Rights

If you have a son or daughter who has been assaulted by another teen, please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. Crime victims have rights, but they often get lost in the criminal justice system. We can help.

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