Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany today, and he’s expected to sign into law a bill to toughen enforcement against cyberbullying.
The measure, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, would combat bullying through computers and mobile devices. It would require schools to create policies to address and respond to the growing issue of cyberbullying, regardless of whether the bullying occurs on or off school property. (h/t to Capital Tonight)
Updated: Cuomo has announced that he has signed the bill.
“We must do all we can to ensure that every child in New York State feels safe in the classroom, and this new law will help our schools create an environment that is conducive to educational success,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Under this new law, schools will play an important role – working with families, communities and law enforcement – to prevent harassment, bullying and discrimination, and to support a student’s right to learn. I commend Majority Leader Skelos, Speaker Silver, the bill sponsors, and the many advocates who worked hard in helping put this comprehensive bill together.”
School employees will be required to report any instances of cyberbullying they are made aware of. The measure will take effect July 2013 and is an update to the Dignity for All Students Act, an anti-bullying measure passed by the Legislature in 2010.
“After a long road, I am very pleased that this important bill has passed and will help keep students safe,” said Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt, R-Greenwood Lake, Orange County, in a statement today.
The Dignity for All Students Act took effect July 1 and requires schools to develop anti-bullying policies and report incidents of bullying to the state Education Department.
Some lawmakers, particularly Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, have wanted to make cyberbullying a specific crime. But lawmakers balked, saying laws already exist, such as harassment charges, that could be used to charge people criminally in cases of excessive cyberbullying.
A survey in June by the Independent Democratic Conference in the state Senate found that 68 percent of students said they either witnessed or had been personally victimized by cyberbullying. Less than 1 in 5 said they reported the abuse to an adult. Nearly 10,000 students from 45 counties and 350 schools completed the survey, said Klein, who commissioned it.