As many a parent can attest, kids can be absolutely vicious toward each other.

The lives of bullied victims are made a living hell, and now in this time of social media and texting the torment can continue well past the end of the school day.

These kids just can't get away from it.

So-called cyberbullying has been cited in several youth suicides over the past several years, most recently the case of a Florida 12-year-old who threw herself off a tower at an abandoned cement plant last week.

Police said she had been bullied online for months by two or three other girls, who sent her messages on social media suggesting, "You should die" and "Why don't you go kill yourself?"

About 27 percent of students in a survey reported being the victims of cyberbullying, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center, a clearinghouse of information concerning the ways adolescents use and misuse technology.

In Pennsylvania, there isn't much police can do when cyberbullying occurs, although that could change under a House bill co-sponsored by four York County lawmakers.

House Bill 1163 targets cyber harassment of minors, changing the state's crimes code to make repeat Internet attacks a misdemeanor.

Under the legislation, police and juvenile probation officers would review cases, deciding whether it's appropriate to refer the offender to juvenile court or take other actions. Adult offenders who cyber bully minors would be prosecuted in court instead of being issued the summary citation.


State Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, is one of the local legislators who has signed on to the bill.

He said some parents have suggested school districts enforce cyberbullying rules, but he prefers a system in which law enforcement follows up on complaints.

"A lot of it happens outside of school purview anyway, and it should be criminal so police can investigate," he said. "We don't want to have school districts extending past their realm."

We agree police should be involved in cases of cyberbullying, but we also think there should be consequences at school for offenders.

It's no more outside a school administrator's purview than underage drinking at a weekend house party. And that behavior has been known to cost a student his or her extracurricular activity privileges.

This bill would add another tool to combat a growing, sometimes deadly problem.