Georgia state legislators will soon consider a bill that, if enacted into law, would designate certain people not as cyberbullies but, instead, as stalkers.

Local boards of education would have to notify students and parents of the change, according to an emailed press release.

Senator Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) authored the bill. Legislators are scheduled to consider the bill during the upcoming 2022 session.

The proposed law says that a person 18 or older who stalks a minor has committed a high and aggravated misdemeanor, according to the bill’s description on the Georgia General Assembly’s website.

“Cyberbullying has emerged as one of the most prevalent and most dangerous forms of harassment taking place in our schools,” Anavitarte said in an emailed press release.

“In situations where the bullying escalates to stalking, it is important that we have legal mechanisms in place to ensure our students are safe and protected. This idea of this bill was from a student at North Paulding High School who believes that we need to address this crisis for our youth in the community.”

Co-sponsors of the bill include:

• Senator Brian Strickland (R-McDonough)

• Senator Randy Robertson (R-Cataula)

• Senator Chuck Payne (R-Dalton)

• Senator Butch Miller (R-Gainesville)

• Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega)

• Senator Carden Summers (R- Cordele)

• Senator Harold Jones II (D-Augusta)

• Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton)

• Senator Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro)

• Senator Sheila McNeill (R-Brunswick)

• Senator Bruce Thompson (R-White)

Robertson said in the press release that “Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, have completely overwhelmed traditional media and infected the lives of every citizen in the United States and every community throughout the world.”

“These profit-before-people media companies have intentionally ignored their obligation to protect Georgia’s families from the horrific damage caused by cyberbullying and cyberstalking,” Robertson said.

“This complete lack of compassion should be a clear signal to every member of the Georgia General Assembly that it is our responsibility to establish strong and enforceable protections.”

Anavitarte, in September, called upon his colleagues to place a statue of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas on the state capitol grounds.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Jason Anavitarte” by Jason R. Anavitarte. Background Photo “Georgia State Capitol” by DXR. CC BY-SA 4.0.