ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The proposed Grace’s Law 2.0 passed unanimously in the Maryland Senate Friday, a bill that would increase the current penalties for cyberbullying.
Under Grace’s Law 2.0, penalties would include up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.READ MORE: Police Ask For Public's Help Finding Missing Baltimore County Teen
The anti-cyberbullying bill was named after Grace McComas, a Glenelg High School student, who committed suicide in 2012.
“If people know they shouldn’t be doing this and they know they will get in trouble if they do, maybe they will think twice,” Maryland Delegate Jon Cardin said. “It’s the same as drinking and driving. If you know you’re going to get caught, you’re not going to do it.”
McComas was only 15 when she was victimized online. She received messages like, “Nobody likes you,” and, “Go kill yourself.”
On Easter Sunday in 2012, McComas took her own life which prompted officials to act.
In 2013, Baltimore County Senator Bobby Zirkin passed Grace’s Law.
“The original testimony from Christine and Dave McComas was so hard to listen to because at the time I had little kids and really young kids,” Zirkin said. “They tried everything to get this bullying to stop.”READ MORE: Man Shot, Killed Self After Shooting Another Man At Parkville Motel, Police Say
But officials believe that the current Grace’s law is too lenient.
The current penalties for cyberbullying are up to one year in prison and a $500 fine.
The language in the current law has also made it more difficult to prosecute.
“If they didn’t send it to the individual, if they sent it to the kid’s entire universe, the abuser was protected under the current law,” Zirkin said. “So we obliterated all of that. We said, ‘you do not need to send it directly to the individual, you do not need a warning.'”
The House Judiciary Committee is now studying the bill, but the American Civil Liberties Union testified against it on Constitutional grounds.
The House Committee wants to consider that before deciding whether to send it forward for a full vote in the House.MORE NEWS: FDA Advisory Panel Backs Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine For Children Aged 5 To 11