By Ian Harris, Staff Attorney
Bullying is becoming an issue of national prominence, from nationally publicized legal cases to entire hit television series like Glee who essentially dedicated their show to the topic. Talk show hosts, celebrities, athletes and politicians are all speaking out against the threats, intimidation, and abuse that create a hostile environment in our nation's schools.
Bullying has always been a major problem in schools. What has changed in recent years are the increased opportunities available for students to bully. Not too long ago, bullying only happened during school hours; today, those who wish to bully have near 24 hour access to other students through text messages, social networking, and instant messaging. Unlike bullying on the playground where teachers have the opportunity to intervene, cyberbullying can be anonymous, hidden behind the protection of technology and outside the view of most adults.
In response to the increased publicity about bullying, the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in collaboration with members of the Senate and Assembly, drafted legislation that aims to stop the major problems of bullying and cyberbullying.
As this year's legislative session was coming to a close (the last date of the session was June 21, 2012), both the Senate and the Assembly passed the cyberbullying law, which would:
1) Establish protocols to respond to cyberbullying, harassment, bullying and discrimination, including designating a school official to receive and investigate reports, prompt reporting and investigation;
2) Take actions to prevent recurrences;
3) Coordinate with law enforcement when appropriate;
4) Develop a bullying prevention strategy;
5) Provide notice to all school community members of the school's policies; and
6) Set training requirements for current and new school employees
The bill has not yet been signed into law. If and when the Governor signs the legislation, the law will modify the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), providing greater protection to New York students.
If you think that you or someone you know is being bullied as a result of an abusive relationship, contact Day One at 1.800.214.4150.