Cyberbulling Legislation Approved during 2018 Winter Session

Dan Moquin, Honorable Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, Yvonne Kee-Billison and Chief Phillip Francisco.

Published January 26, 2018

WINDOW ROCK – Legislation initiated and supported by the Office of the President and Vice President (OPVP) was unanimously approved today by a vote of 14-0 amending Title 17 of the Navajo Nation Criminal Code to update the harassment, stalking and manslaughter statutes to include the usage of electronic devices.

“With the approval of the Cyberbullying Legislation, the Navajo Nation is adding another layer of protection over our children against any online cyberbullies or predators,” President Begaye said. “Through our Building Communities of Hope initiative, our administration learned that cyberbullying impacts our youth in a critical way. We needed this legislation to further our protections.”

Vice President Jonathan Nez said that the efforts to bring this legislation forth not only bring awareness to this issue but continue the commitment to provide a safe environment for our children.

“Some of our youth suffer from the effects of bullying and what we really want is to teach all our children to show respect for one another and to show respect for yourself,” Vice President Nez said. “That’s what this year is about. the 150th year of the Treaty of 1868. Our ancestors got here by working with one another and building each other up. Not by tearing each other down. That’s kinship and we need to keep that in the forefront of who we are.”

OPVP has initiated meetings to address cyberbullying on the Navajo Nation since early 2017. OPVP Executive Staff Assistant Yvonne Kee-Billison, who was integral in pushing this legislation, said that repeated instances of cyberbullying on the Nation have raised concerns about its impacts in contributing to youth suicide.

“As parents and family members through Ké, we are to treat each other with respect and dignity as many of us were instructed as children with our Diné teaching and culture,” Kee-Billison said. “The updates to the statutes strengthen the nation’s ability to hold offenders accountable and to deter future offenders.”

President Begaye said the legislation gives the Navajo Nation the tools to hold online criminals accountable for their actions by ensuring that Navajo police officers and prosecutors are provided the guidance and authority to take action against online criminal conduct.

Kee-Billison said that our Navajo Nation government and leaders recognized the importance of this legislation and worked together to address it in the Navajo Nation Criminal Code.

“Our commitment to support our children and families is ever so critical in these times,” she said. “Thank you,”

Technology encompassed with the new law includes, but is not limited to cell phones, computers, and tablets. With the new law, the Navajo Nation also asserts the authority over individuals on and off the Navajo Nation.

“There has been a rising number of incidents across the country, and the Navajo Nation, where children are being cyberbullied,” said Dan Mokuin, an attorney with the Navajo Nation Department of Justice. “Children are sacred and we need this law to serve jurisdiction over people that send these texts or emails even when they’re off the reservation.”

OPVP would like to thank Honorable Delegates Amber Crotty and Honorable Delegate Jonathan Hale. The Office also thanks the Navajo Department of Justice, Department of Public Safety, Department of Health, Department of Social Services, and the Peacemaking Program of the Judicial Branch for their support and participation.

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