Bullying can occur in many forms such as: intimidating a person to force them to do things against their will or even mocking a person for their weaknesses or defects or deformities. Bullying can occur in many social settings but, a significant amount of such incidents usually occur in educational institutions. Bullying can cause an individual to sustain severe physical or even psychological injuries. Bullying can have such a devastating effect on the victims psyche that they may feel there is no other resolution but, to commit suicide. Therefore, it is an important public safety issue that needs to be addressed.
On September 13, 2010, the State of New York signed into law the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA). On July 1, 2012, DASA took effect. DASA was enacted to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.
Generally, students easily become victims of cyber bullying. In 2009, more than 7 million U.S. students ages 12-18 – representing 28 percent of all students in that age range – were bullied at school and more than 1.5 million students — 6 percent – were subject to cyber bullying on or off school property. A 2011 survey of New York high school students revealed that, during the previous year, nearly 18 percent had been bullied on school property and 16 percent had experienced cyber bullying through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, Web sites, texting or other electronic means. In a study conducted by the National Crime Prevention Council, it was reported that the number of students being harassed by cyber bullying are greater than any other form of bullying. Therefore, there was an urgent need to enact new laws to prevent cyber bullying.
On July 1, 2012, the State of New York signed into law the Law to Encourage the Acceptance of All Differences Act (LEAD). On July 1, 2013, LEAD is scheduled to take effect. LEAD was specifically enacted to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with protections from cyber bullying and others types of related bullying. LEAD defines bullying as “the severe and repeated use by one or more students or school employees of a written, verbal or electronic form, or a physical act or gesture directed at a student that caused physical injury, emotional harm or damage to a student’s property; placed the student in a reasonable fear of harm to himself / herself; creating a hostile environment at school; substantially disrupting the educational process or the orderly operation of a school.”
Finally, the State of New York enacted the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act (SAVE) which provides guidance to school administrators ensuring a safe learning environment for students and teachers by developing guidelines for school safety planning, school codes of conduct, reporting requirements for child abuse, fingerprinting requirements for school personnel and training modules discussing school violence prevention and intervention.
Bullying not only hurts the victim and violates their civil rights but, such offensive conduct also significantly impacts the public safety. It is hoped that these legislative initiatives as well as others will bring such harmful offensive behaviors under control.