On October 20, 2021, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation focusing on online safety, including S623/A2206 to create a task force to explore cyberbullying and S2956A/A324 to include the production or dissemination of intimate images in the definition of coercion.
After four years of cyberbullying prevention advocacy, while working with elected officials and their teams, and doing my best to rally community leaders, advocates, parents, students, educators, and anyone who would listen, S623/A2206 was signed into law!
During the first hour after finding out, I went through a wide range of emotions from shocked to happy to excited to satisfied to overcome with tears of joy. Since then, I have been filled with gratitude that we reached this moment.
It had been nearly five months since the bill passed in the Senate, two weeks after passing in the Assembly. Five months. After reaching out to the new governor several times, I was preparing myself to call her office, so I visited the Senate website to confirm the passage dates. The last time I checked the page, the bill had not yet been delivered to the governor. I even joked about it in a thread on Twitter.
To my surprise, the legislation had not only been delivered, it also had been signed by the governor on the previous day! I never expected to find out this way, especially since I had signed up for, and previously received, legislation status alerts from the Senate website, as well as Google alerts. Regardless of how I found out, this will be a moment I will remember forever.
Throughout my ordeal, even as I saw no end in sight to the intense harassment I endured, I thought about how cyberbullying impacts youth and knew I had to do something to help. To be completely honest, at the time, I had no idea what that would, or could, look like.
Advocating for cyberbullying prevention legislation and initiatives has been one of the most meaningful endeavors of my life. I’m thankful elected officials, community leaders, educators, healthcare professionals, parents, students, advocates, law enforcement, and others in New York State are recognizing we need to work towards safer online experiences and digital spaces for youth and adults. This is only the beginning, but it is a great first step.
Learn more about the details, sponsors, and co-sponsors of S623/A2206 to create a task force to explore cyberbullying and measures to address it.
Learn more about New York’s Online Safety Package Legislation.