Sheboygan alderman wants new anti-bullying ordinance

Posted at 7:25 PM, Jun 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-07 20:46:00-04

A Sheboygan alderman wants an ordinance to keep people from encouraging others to commit suicide online.

Alderman Job Hou-Seye said he doesn't want people going through a difficult time pushed over the edge by an online comment.

"To threaten or intimidate somebody or even to suggest that they commit suicide," he explained.

He's seen friends and family, taking to social media to express their feelings to difficulties in their lives approached with harmful comments, rather than compassion.

"I don't think that somebody should be driven off of social media because there's somebody cruel enough out there to take advantage of them when they're depressed," said Hou-Seye.

He said with the proposed ordinance "that cruel and hateful action would become a crime and you could receive a penalty for it."

Sheboygan City Attorney Charles Adams agrees the intention is good, but isn't sure the ordinance is necessary.

"I do sometimes have a concern that we rely heavily on just writing new laws to address concerns, rather than using the tools that we already have," he explained.

The City Attorney refers to state laws covering three possible crimes of this nature; unlawful use of a computer, disorderly conduct and harassment. He said in his experience the city hasn't had a problem prosecuting people using those laws.

Hou-Seye said when his family was harassed online, the Sheboygan District Attorney didn't have enough evidence to press charges. That's why he wants the local ordinance.

"My purpose of putting forth this ordinance is to make it very specific," he said.

Adams said it's certainly a conversation worth having, and may develop into changes in the proposed ordinance or a better way to use current laws.

City leaders may discuss the law as soon as next week.