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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jamie Isaacs honored for cyberbully efforts

Jamie Isaacs honored for cyberbully efforts

Jamie Isaacs of Lake Grove, left, and Paige

Photo credit: Christina Primero | Jamie Isaacs of Lake Grove, left, and Paige Pless of Albany, stand with Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) after the Senator introduced resolutions commending the two teens for their fight against harassment and cyberbullying. (Feb. 13, 2012)

ALBANY -- Jamie Isaacs, a Long Island teen who spoke out against the cyberbullying she suffered for years, was honored as a role model on the floor of the state Senate Monday.

Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) introduced resolutions commending Isaacs and Albany teenager Paige Pless for fighting against harassment that is no longer confined to the schoolyard but takes place in the virtual world.

The two are "an inspiration for teenagers across the state and testaments of natural strength and true character," Klein said on the Senate floor. The resolutions come to the Senate floor Wednesday.

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Isaacs, 15, from Lake Grove, turned six years of taunting into a push for tougher laws and a foundation that runs a hotline to take phone calls from kids who are being bullied. She said she's helped eight kids who were suicidal. She's also written a book about her experience.

"I didn't want what happened to me to ever happen to anyone else," Isaacs said.

She said the problems started in the second grade with another girl with whom she didn't get along. Over the years it escalated and the girl enlisted more people into an "I hate Jamie" club, who would send taunting emails and death threats. She eventually transferred out of the Sachem school district's public schools to a private school and said the problems stopped. However, her younger brother also suffered bullying at school and is now being home-schooled.

Though some calls to the foundation's hotline are referred to social workers or lawyers, she talks directly to some of the kids who call the hotline and shares her experience with them.

"That helps them, knowing that there's someone else out there like them that's experiencing the same thing," she said.

Last month, Klein introduced a cyberbullying bill that would add "electronic communication" toward minors in stalking and aggravated harassment crimes.

"What we're seeing now in the digital age is hundreds, hordes of invisible bullies that are hiding behind social media and harassing one another," Klein said. "The old adage that sticks and stones may break your bones but words cannot harm you, I think we're seeing, unfortunately, that words can kill."

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