Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New City) announced today the Assembly passed a bill that cracks down on bullying and cyberbullying in public schools. the measure expands on the Dignity for All Students Act and will establish a mandatory reporting system for all incidents of bullying and new training for certain school staff.
“Technology and social networking have made it possible for students to remain connected beyond the classroom,” said Zebrowski. “Unfortunately, this increased connectivity is also facilitating cyberbullying and causing students who are bullied at school to be subjected to similar harassment at home. The constant deluge can lead to low confidence, falling grades, behavioral problems and, in certain tragic cases, suicide."
The Assembly’s legislation will require all school staff to report any incident of bullying or cyberbullying to the school principal or superintendent within one school day of the occurrence and submit a written report of the incident within three school days. Parents and students will also be able submit reports if they become aware of bullying and the principal or superintendent will be required to investigate all reports. Law enforcement must be contacted if any incident includes suspected criminal activity.
Schools will also be required to establish official guidelines for balanced and age-appropriate responses to harassment, bullying or discrimination, with detailed remedies and procedures. Members of the school community, including staff, parents and students, will receive a copy of the policy annually, including instructions on how parents and students can report bullying to school administration.
“Cyberbullying has become a dangerous trend and this legislation gives parents and students the tools needed to overcome it,” said Zebrowski. “Standardized policies and procedures will guide teachers and school staff so that they are better equipped to respond to harassment and bullying within the classroom and beyond.”
The legislation also includes guidelines for a number of training programs. All new applicants for any classroom teacher, school counselor, school psychologist, school social worker, school administrator or supervisor or superintendent of schools will be required to complete training on the social patterns of harassment, bullying and discrimination.
In New York State, nearly 16 percent of all students and nearly 21 percent of girls are subject to cyberbullying through texting, social networking websites, email, instant messaging or other electronic means every year. As many as 28 percent of all students in the United States experience some form of bullying.