The New York State Assembly has passed a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele aimed at cracking down on bullying and cyber-bullying in public schools, according to a press release issued on Tuesday.
Expanding on the Dignity for All Students Act, the legislation will establish a mandatory reporting system for all incidents of bullying and provide training for school staff.
According to Thiele, the legislation is expected to be passed by the state Senate and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“In today’s age of 24-hour connectivity and social networking, there is no escape for students who are subjected to cyber-bullying,” said Thiele. “Bullying that begins in school can follow them home and contribute to low self esteem, academic problems, delinquent behavior, and, tragically, violence and suicide. These new guidelines for combatting cyber-bullying will ensure a safe and secure learning environment for all our students both in and out of school.”
Under the legislation, all school staff will be required to report any incident of bullying or cyber-bullying to the 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 to submit reports and school administrations will be required to investigate every incident.
Schools will also be required to establish official guidelines for age-appropriate responses to harassment, bullying or discrimination, with detailed remedies and procedures.
The legislation also includes guidelines for teacher and staff training programs. All students and staff from kindergarten through 12th grade will have to attend bullying education classes and receive Internet instruction, added Thiele.
According to Thiele, in New York State nearly 16-percent of all students and nearly 21-percent of girls are subject to cyber-bullying through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, social network sites and through texting and other electronic devices each year.
“This legislation is a major step in the Assembly’s ongoing efforts to improve education and promote a safe and secure learning environment,” said Thiele. “No child should have to fear continued harassment and embarrassment from cyber-bullying. This legislation ensures parents, students and staff all have the tools they need to combat this serious issue.”