Senate approves anti-bullying legislation

Thomas F. O'Mara

June 03, 2011

Albany, N.Y.—The New York State Senate has approved legislation co-sponsored by Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) to put in place a comprehensive legislative package to address the problem of bullying in schools.

“Too many young lives are destroyed by bullying and the Legislature should stay as vigilant as possible to secure schools as safe harbors for every student.  If there’s a way to help stop it, we should try,” said O’Mara.

O’Mara said that comprehensive anti-bullying legislation has been introduced in the Senate over the past few years in the wake of a series of tragic bullying incidents in New York, Massachusetts, and elsewhere across the nation.

Statistics show that efforts are working in states where bullying prevention is taught in schools.  According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, bullying can be reduced by up to 50% when there is a school-wide commitment to preventative and educational programs aimed at raising awareness, increasing teacher and parent involvement, forming clear rules and strong social norms against bullying, and providing support and protection for students.

The United States Department of Justice reports that cyber-bullying, bullying through the means of any electronic device, is at an all-time high.  Forty-three percent of teenagers reported being victims of cyber-bullying. While nine out of 10 teens, or 92%, reported knowing their bully, only 10 percent of those cyber-bullying victims told their parents.  Cyber-bullying often involves vicious anonymous taunts on social networking sites such as Facebook.

O’Mara said that the Senate-approved legislation (S.4921) he co-sponsors would, among other provisions, require school districts to include methods for discouraging acts of bullying and cyber-bullying within the required instruction in civility, citizenship, and character education; define bullying and cyber-bullying and add these acts to the list of incidents for which disciplinary measures must be taken pursuant to the school district’s code of conduct; require all school employees to report incidents of bullying and cyber-bulling; and enhance the state’s school training requirements to include training in the identification and prevention of bullying for classroom teachers, school administrators and superintendents.

The legislation now goes to the Assembly.  It must be approved by the Assembly and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo before becoming law.

[see attached article below in the June 3rd Corning Leader]