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Motion calling for County cyberbullying study moves to full Council

Summary

Online safety of King County residents a top priority

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee today sent to the County Council for final action a motion urging the King County Sheriff to study ways to protect the public from an emerging trend: cyberbullying.

Reagan Dunn, prime sponsor of the motion, said it is time to see if this nationwide problem is impacting King County.

“This motion will allow the Sheriff’s Office to take an in depth approach and study the issue of cyberbullying and cyber predators in King County,” Dunn said. “With the dramatic rise in the use of social media it is critically important the County has a full understanding of the issue so we can better protect the residents of the county”

The use of information and communications technologies to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behavior by and individual or group, that is intended to harm others, is considered to be cyberbullying. There is also the growing awareness of “cyber predators,” individuals using technology to hunt for potential victims to take advantage of sexually, emotionally, psychologically or financially. With the growth of social media, both cyberbullying and cyber predators are becoming a source of concern for law enforcement.

“Technology-based crimes of harassment and intimidation affect young and old,” said King County Sheriff Steve Strachan. “As we progress and become more dependent on internet-based communication, a cyber-bully can target a senior citizen as easily as a young teen. We need to better understand the criminal environment and trends in King County.”

The online safety of residents of King County is part of the county’s Strategic Plan. One of the Justice and Safety priorities is keeping people safe in their homes and communities. This motion advances that objective by asking King County Sheriff’s Office for a study of the impact of cyberbullying in King County and transmit a report on cyberbullying in unincorporated King County.

The report will include the annual number and status of investigations that are associated with cyberbullying in unincorporated King County and compare those numbers to national trends. It will also include the sheriff's approach toward the investigation and prevention of cyberbullying. The motion directs the sheriff to investigate if additional resources for training should be made available to support investigations of cyberbullying in unincorporated King County.

The motion now moves to the full County Council for final action.



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