New York Legislature Passes Cyberbullying Protections

The New York Senate and Assembly have both passed a new cyberbullying provision that extends the effects of the Dignity For All Students Act passed two years ago. The LGBT-inclusive amendment defines cyberbullying as “harassment or bullying that occurs through any form of electronic communication” and will have the following effects:

[It will] establish protocols to respond to cyberbullying, harassment, bullying and discrimination, including designating a school official to receive and promptly investigate reports; take actions to prevent recurrences; coordinate with law enforcement when appropriate; and develop a bullying prevention strategy; and provide notice to all school community members of the school’s policies. It would also set training requirements for current and new school employees.

Cyberbullying is difficult to track, but various studies have shown that is nevertheless prevalent. The Pew Research Center found that 90 percent of teens encounter cyberbullying, 21 percent of whom admitted to joining in. An AP-MTV poll found that half of all young people regularly encounter discriminatory slang online, and just as many believe it’s okay to use such language with their friends. In such a vastly unmoderated space as the Internet, training educators to recognize and intervene when cyberbullying takes place is essential for protecting young people from its detrimental effects.