New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed legislation that will require New York school districts to establish protocols to curb online bullying. The new legislation goes into effect July 1, 2013 and expands upon the 2010 Dignity for All Students Act, an anti-bullying law that first created guidelines for local school districts to develop policies and procedures to address the problem of bullying.
“The introduction of social networking into the lives of students today has not only created a means of communication outside of school for students, but it unfortunately has also opened the door to new forms of bullying,” said New York Senator Jack M. Martins. ““If cyberbullying detracts from a student’s ability to take part in the learning process, this new law will allow steps to be taken by the school districts to ensure that the victims and their parents receive justice and peace of mind.”
According to the governor’s office, a 2011 survey of New York students showed that nearly 18 percent were bullied on school property and 16 percent were cyberbullied through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, Web sites, texting and other electronic means.
Specific requirements of the new law include:
– Schools are required to take action against instances of cyberbullying both on and off campus. Schools are responsible for intervening against cyberbullying when it creates or threatens to create a substantial risk to the school environment, substantially interferes with a student’s educational performance or mental, emotional or physical well being, or causes a student to fear for his or her physical safety.
– School districts must institute protocols addressing cyberbullying, harassment, bullying and discrimination. These include: Students and parents to make both oral and written reports; School employees who witness acts to verbally notify the reporting designee no later than one school day after the incident and make a written report no later than two school days after the incident.
– The assignment of a designated school official to receive and investigate reports.
Governor Cuomo stated: “We must do all we can to ensure that every child in New York State feels safe in the classroom, and this new law will help our schools create an environment that is conducive to educational success. Under this new law, schools will play an important role – working with families, communities and law enforcement – to prevent harassment, bullying and discrimination, and to support a student’s right to learn.”