New Cyberbullying Protections Under New Law
State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo for acting quickly to sign anti-cyberbullying legislation in time for the start of the new school year next month.
With the new law on the books, Addabbo said, students will be protected from cyberbullying in public schools, as well as from bullying and discrimination.
Addabbo said he supported the new law, which is designed to strengthen a school’s response to harassment and bullying because of improved reporting, investigation, intervention, training and prevention.
Addabbo, a member of the senate’s Education Committee, said the bill signed into law by the governor amends the state’s Education Law by requiring school districts “to act immediately to end harmful behavior when cyberbullying occurs and to establish protocols to respond to cyberbullying, harassment, bullying and discrimination to prevent recurrences and protect targeted students.”
Addabbo said the amended law also sets training requirements for current and future school employees to help teachers and administrators better prevent and respond to bullying and other harmful acts. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2013, Addabbo said.
According to Addabbo, “Cyberbullying is an especially harmful form of bullying. Through increasing accessibility to technology, bullying has transformed from a predominantly school-based issue to a broader societal problem beyond the classroom to bullying on the job, on athletic teams and through the internet.
“Research has revealed a link between cyberbullying and low self-esteem, family problems, academic problems, school violence and delinquent behaviors, as well as long-term consequences that include increased depression, substance use, aggressive impulses and school truancy.”
Addabbo also noted, “Some recent cyberbullying cases in the news, sometimes combined with other forms of bullying, have led to suicide. If it’s left ignored, bullying can rapidly escalate into even more serious violence and abuse.”
Addabbo reported that in 2009, more than 7 million U.S. students aged 12-18—representing 28 percent of all students in that age range—were bullied at school and more than 1.5 million students, or 6 percent, were subject to cyberbullying on or off school property.
Another survey the lawmaker cited, released in 2011 and covering New York high school students, showed that during 2010, almost 18 percent had been bullied on school property and 16 percent had experienced cyberbullying through e-mails, chat rooms, instant messaging, Web sites, texting or other electronic means.