Sen. Jeffrey Klein, D-Bronx, and Assemblyman William Scarborough, D-Queens, have launched an online survey about cyberbullying, they announced today. Scarborough recently agreed to sign on to a bill sponsored by Klein and the other three members of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference that would add cyberbullying to the state’s stalking laws. It would also make “bullycide” — intentionally causing a suicide via cyberbullying — second-degree manslaughter.
The New York Cyberbully Census is a 12-question online survey for New York students in grades 3 to 12. Participants are asked about the definition of cyberbullying, whether they have experienced it, if they have reported it, and other questions. Responses are anonymous. The survey runs through the end of the year.
“We know that cyberbullying is happening in New York State and, tragically, we know that words can kill in the digital age,” Klein said in a statement. “The New York Cyberbully Census will enable us to gather hard data about the extent of cyberbullying in New York, help build the coalitions we need to combat this destructive behavior, and help save lives.”
Cyberbullying has been in the news again following the suicide Buffalo-area teen Jamey Rodemeyer last month. The 14-year-old had long been bullied.
“The issue of cyberbullying is widespread and more insidious than ever,” Scarborough said in a statement. “Because the Internet and social media present tremendous possibilities for the harassment and bullying of young people, we must update our laws to reflect the seriousness of the problem and the potential for permanent harm and even death.”
Parry Aftab, a lawyer and recognized authority on anti-cyberbullying efforts, helped design the survey. He is the founder of www.stopcyberbullying.com. The anti-bullying groups Teenangels, the Jamie Isaacs Foundation for Anti-Bullying and other groups will be promoting the survey. Miss New York Kaitlin Monte, who speaks against bullying as part of her platform, is part of the effort too.
“We know that there are many students who are being cyberbullied, but we are seeking to learn just how pervasive it has really become,” Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County, said in a statement.