New York’s new “cyberbullying” law will help protect teenagers online and on the street from a growing epidemic of intimidation and menacing behavior by bullies, according to the North Country’s two representatives in the state Senate.
“Bullying on the streets and, increasingly, online, does more than just hurt a young person’s feelings,” said 48th District Senator Ritchie, Republican of Heuvelton. “The damage is real, and can include lower student achievement, increased substance abuse, and even has been linked to a rise in teen suicides.”
Sen. Joe Griffo, Republican of Rome representing the 47th District, says the new law clarifies and expands the Dignity for All Students Act, an anti-cyberbullying law enacted in 2010, and creates guidelines for local school districts to develop policies and procedures to address the problem.
The new law includes within the definitions of bullying and cyberbullying verbal and non-verbal actions, on or off school property, which create a risk of substantial disruption of the school environment.
We live in an age now where children are wired into a virtual world filled with communication via texting and social networks,” said Griffo.
“Bullying doesn’t just take place in between classes, or in the school bus, or on school grounds anymore. It’s possible for students to be harassed at any time and even in their own homes. I commend the governor for looking to improve New York’s cyberbullying law. This legislation is progress in making our students feel safer,” Griffo said.
Governor Cuomo signed the bill Monday, after unanimous passage in both the Senate and Assembly last month.
“This new law will ensure a rapid response to cases of bullying before they spin out of control, and gives victims protection from bullies, so they can concentrate on school, learning and growing up in a safe and nurturing environment,” Ritchie said.
Under the new law, which takes effect July 1, 2013, schools will work with parents and law enforcement to respond forcefully when bullying occurs by:
· Adding bullying to the list of incidents for which disciplinary measures must be taken;
· Requiring school employees to report incidents of bullying, and
· Requiring school districts to create policies and guidelines to encourage awareness of and to prohibit acts of bullying.
Recent surveys show an alarming increase in cases of bullying and online bullying, with more than 7 million U.S. teens reported that they have been victims.
Ritchie has been meeting with school officials and law enforcement, and hosted an online Q&A with Miss New York, Kaitlin Monte, fielding questions from constituents about the growing problem of schoolyard bullying.
A fact sheet on the new cyberbullying law can be found at this link: