Assemblymember Gabryszak helps pass legislation to take action against bullies
“Bullying, especially cyberbullying, can happen anywhere, at any time, and its effects on teenagers and young adults are long-lasting,” Assemblymember Gabryszak said. “Too many students have dealt with the unfortunate and oftentimes tragic effects of bullying. In today’s day and age, between social networking, the Internet and constant connectivity, there is simply no escaping it. These new guidelines will help put a stop to cyberbullying and provide a safe, secure environment for our children, both in and out of school.”
The Assembly’s legislation sets up a system that ensures every incidence of bullying is addressed, Assemblymember Gabryszak said. All school staff will be required to report any incident of bullying or cyberbullying to the school principal or superintendent within one school day of the occurrence and submit a written report of the incident within three school days.
Parents and students will also be able to submit reports if they become aware of bullying and the principal or superintendent will be required to investigate all reports. Law enforcement must be contacted if any incident includes suspected criminal activity.
Schools will also be required to establish official guidelines, released annually, for balanced and age-appropriate responses to harassment, bullying or discrimination, with detailed remedies, procedures and instructions on how parents and students can report bullying to school administrations, Gabryszak said.
“Parents and students have every right to know exactly what schools are doing to combat bullying and cyberbullying, and where they can go if they are having problems,” he said. “These new guidelines put a clear policy in action, a measure that will go a long way in keeping students safe and promoting a strong, secure learning environment.”
Under the legislation, all new applicants for any classroom teacher, school counselor, school psychologist, school social worker, school administrator or supervisor or superintendent of schools will be required to complete training on the social patterns of harassment, bullying and discrimination. Current staff and students from kindergarten through 12th grade will have to attend bullying education classes and receive Internet instruction as well, Gabryszak noted.
Western New York is no stranger to the tragic effects of cyberbullying, he added. Last September, Jamey Rodemeyer, a freshman teen from Williamsville North, committed suicide after he repeatedly discussed being bullied on his blog. Local police reported that Jamey was subjected to bullying in both middle and high school, but these incidents never rose to the level of criminal prosecution.
“The tragedy of Jamey’s suicide is just one of the many reasons we need this legislation,” Gabryszak said. “We should do everything we can to prevent bullying and cyberbullying and keep our community safe and secure. I will continue working in the Assembly to make sure there is a constant effort to protect our children, so they can go to school and live their lives without the fear or threat of cyberbullying.”