Cyberbullying Bill Now A Law (That Does Very Little To Keep Punks From Bullying Kids Online)

bullyingquote.jpg
Words to live by...

There's good news and bad news for any cyber-tough-guys out there whose brand of bullying involves being a prick from behind the safety of a keyboard. The bad news: Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the much-anticipated "Cyberbullying Bill" into law this afternoon. The good news (for cyber-pricks, anyway): it doesn't actually do a whole lot to dissuade little punks from bullying people online.

Cuomo says the new law is designed to protect students from cyberbullying by strengthening a school's response to harassment and bullying through "improved reporting, investigation, intervention, training and prevention."

We've read the law -- unfortunately, just being an asshole (even online) still isn't a criminal offense, and there are no specific disciplinary punishments for potential cyberbullies. So -- despite the "oohs and ahhs" from elected officials -- it doesn't appear that the bill creates any real consequences for punks who want to be a jerk online. Rather, it asks that school districts use an unidentified "progressive model" to discipline offenders.

"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 says.

The new law calls for the following:

-Requires that schools act in cases of cyberbullying:

The law requires that schools act in cases of cyberbullying, which may occur on or off campus, when it creates or would create a substantial risk to the school environment, substantially interferes with a student's educational performance or mental, emotional or physical well-being, or causes a student to fear for his or her physical safety.

-Ensures Proper Protocols Are in Place to Deal with Cyberbullying

The law requires school districts to put in place protocols to deal with cyberbullying, harassment, bullying and discrimination, including assignment of a school official to receive and investigate reports; prompt reporting and investigation; responsive actions to prevent recurrence of any verified bullying; coordination with law enforcement when appropriate; development of a bullying prevention strategy; and notice to all school community members of the school's policies.

-Sets Training Requirements For School Employees to Help Identify and Prevent Cyberbullying

The law sets training requirements for current school employees, as well as for new teachers and administrators applying for a certificate or license, on the identification and mitigation of harassment, bullying, cyberbullying and discrimination.

As you can see, the law seems pretty heavy on education and awareness (read: sensitivity training) and pretty light on punishing the creeps who pick on kids over the Internet. Any talk of punishment in the law is vague; schools must "act in cases of cyberbullying?" WTF does that even mean? It's even more vague in the text of the law, which you can read below.

It seems the law simply forces schools to come up with their own punishments for cyberbullies, which it appears could be something as lame as an apology.

If Cuomo had some cojones (and a blatant disregard for the law), he would have slipped "mandatory month in the stockade for all cyberbullies" into the new law -- just to give it some teeth. Rather, it appears to be another symbolic "ho-hum" piece of legislation that doesn't do a whole lot to tackle the actual problem.

See the full text of the new law below; it basically just sets guidelines for common sense -- which, sadly, often is needed (sigh).

S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K

S. 7740 A. 10712
SENATE - ASSEMBLY
June 15, 2012

IN SENATE -- Introduced by Sens. SALAND, RANZENHOFER, KLEIN -- (at
request of the Governor) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
printed to be committed to the Committee on Rules
IN ASSEMBLY -- Introduced by COMMITTEE ON RULES -- (at request of M. of
A. O'Donnell, Nolan) -- (at request of the Governor) -- read once and
referred to the Committee on Education
AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to prohibiting bullying
and cyberbullying in public schools
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Legislative findings and intent. In recent years, New York
state has taken steps to ensure that school pupils, teachers and other
personnel are provided with a safe and secure learning environment.
However, the legislature recognizes that egregious incidents of harass
ment, bullying and discrimination, both in person and through the use of
technology, continue to disrupt the lives and education of students
across the state, and that bullying manifests in many forms, including
through the use of technology in what is often called cyberbullying. In
today's age of advanced technology, twenty-four hour connectivity and
social networking, students who are subjected to bullying, such as the
texting or posting of sexually derogatory comments via such social
networking sites or by other means, have no reprieve. Bullying that
begins in school follows students home every day, and has lasting
impacts on such students. Conversely, bullying through the use of tech
nology can begin away from school property.
The legislature also recognizes that most cyberbullying originates
off-campus, but nonetheless affects the school environment and disrupts
the educational process, impeding the ability of students to learn and
too often causing devastating effects on students' health and well-be
ing.
The legislature finds it is vital to protect all students from harass
ment, bullying, cyberbullying and discrimination. In expanding the
provisions of the Dignity for All Students Act, the legislature intends
EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
[ ] is old law to be omitted.
LBD12130-08-2

S. 7740 2 A. 10712
to give school districts tools to address these harmful acts consistent
with the emerging research in the field. Bullying, harassment and
discrimination pose a serious threat to all students, including but not
limited to students targeted because of actual or perceived race, color,
weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice,
disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex. It is imperative to
protect every student from such harm regardless of whether the student
is a member of a specific category.

S 2. Subdivision 7 of section 11 of the education law, as added by
chapter 482 of the laws of 2010, is amended and a new subdivision 8 is
added to read as follows:

7. "Harassment" AND "BULLYING" shall mean the creation of a hostile
environment by conduct or by [verbal] threats, intimidation or abuse,
INCLUDING CYBERBULLYING, that (A) has or would have the effect of unrea
sonably and substantially interfering with a student's educational
performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical
well-being; or [conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that] (B)
reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to
fear for his or her physical safety; [such conduct, verbal threats,
intimidation or abuse includes but is not limited to conduct, verbal
threats, intimidation] or [abuse] (C) REASONABLY CAUSES OR WOULD REASON
ABLY BE EXPECTED TO CAUSE PHYSICAL INJURY OR EMOTIONAL HARM TO A
STUDENT; OR (D) OCCURS OFF SCHOOL PROPERTY AND CREATES OR WOULD FORESEE
ABLY CREATE A RISK OF SUBSTANTIAL DISRUPTION WITHIN THE SCHOOL ENVIRON
MENT, WHERE IT IS FORESEEABLE THAT THE CONDUCT, THREATS, INTIMIDATION OR
ABUSE MIGHT REACH SCHOOL PROPERTY. ACTS OF HARASSMENT AND BULLYING SHALL
INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO, THOSE ACTS based on a person's actual or
perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion,
religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex. FOR
THE PURPOSES OF THIS DEFINITION THE TERM "THREATS, INTIMIDATION OR
ABUSE" SHALL INCLUDE VERBAL AND NON-VERBAL ACTIONS.
8. "CYBERBULLYING" SHALL MEAN HARASSMENT OR BULLYING AS DEFINED IN
SUBDIVISION SEVEN OF THIS SECTION, INCLUDING PARAGRAPHS (A), (B), (C)
AND (D) OF SUCH SUBDIVISION, WHERE SUCH HARASSMENT OR BULLYING OCCURS
THROUGH ANY FORM OF ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION.

S 3. Subdivision 1 of section 12 of the education law, as added by
chapter 482 of the laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows:

1. No student shall be subjected to harassment OR BULLYING by employ
ees or students on school property or at a school function; nor shall
any student be subjected to discrimination based on a person's actual or
perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion,
religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or sex by
school employees or students on school property or at a school function.
Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to prohibit a denial of
admission into, or exclusion from, a course of instruction based on a
person's gender that would be permissible under section thirty-two
hundred one-a or paragraph (a) of subdivision two of section twenty
eight hundred fifty-four of this chapter and title IX of the Education
Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. section 1681, et. seq.), or to prohibit,
as discrimination based on disability, actions that would be permissible
under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

S 4.

Section 13 of the education law, as added by chapter 482 of the
laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows:

S 13. Policies and guidelines. The board of education and the trustees
or sole trustee of every school district shall create policies, PROCE
DURES and guidelines that shall include, but not be limited to:


S. 7740 3 A. 10712
1. Policies AND PROCEDURES intended to create a school environment
that is free from [discrimination or] harassment[;], BULLYING AND
DISCRIMINATION, THAT INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO PROVISIONS WHICH:

A. IDENTIFY THE PRINCIPAL, SUPERINTENDENT OR THE PRINCIPAL'S OR SUPER
INTENDENT'S DESIGNEE AS THE SCHOOL EMPLOYEE CHARGED WITH RECEIVING
REPORTS OF HARASSMENT, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION;
B. ENABLE STUDENTS AND PARENTS TO MAKE AN ORAL OR WRITTEN REPORT OF
HARASSMENT, BULLYING OR DISCRIMINATION TO TEACHERS, ADMINISTRATORS AND
OTHER SCHOOL PERSONNEL THAT THE SCHOOL DISTRICT DEEMS APPROPRIATE;
C. REQUIRE SCHOOL EMPLOYEES WHO WITNESS HARASSMENT, BULLYING OR
DISCRIMINATION, OR RECEIVE AN ORAL OR WRITTEN REPORT OF HARASSMENT,
BULLYING OR DISCRIMINATION, TO PROMPTLY ORALLY NOTIFY THE PRINCIPAL,
SUPERINTENDENT OR THE PRINCIPAL'S OR SUPERINTENDENT'S DESIGNEE NOT LATER
THAN ONE SCHOOL DAY AFTER SUCH SCHOOL EMPLOYEE WITNESSES OR RECEIVES A
REPORT OF HARASSMENT, BULLYING OR DISCRIMINATION, AND TO FILE A WRITTEN
REPORT WITH THE PRINCIPAL, SUPERINTENDENT OR THE PRINCIPAL OR SUPER
INTENDENT'S DESIGNEE NOT LATER THAN TWO SCHOOL DAYS AFTER MAKING SUCH
ORAL REPORT;
D. REQUIRE THE PRINCIPAL, SUPERINTENDENT OR THE PRINCIPAL'S OR SUPER
INTENDENT'S DESIGNEE TO LEAD OR SUPERVISE THE THOROUGH INVESTIGATION OF
ALL REPORTS OF HARASSMENT, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION, AND TO ENSURE
THAT SUCH INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED PROMPTLY AFTER RECEIPT OF ANY WRIT
TEN REPORTS MADE UNDER THIS SECTION;
E. REQUIRE THE SCHOOL, WHEN AN INVESTIGATION REVEALS ANY SUCH VERIFIED
HARASSMENT, BULLYING OR DISCRIMINATION, TO TAKE PROMPT ACTIONS REASON
ABLY CALCULATED TO END THE HARASSMENT, BULLYING OR DISCRIMINATION, ELIM
INATE ANY HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT, CREATE A MORE POSITIVE SCHOOL CULTURE AND
CLIMATE, PREVENT RECURRENCE OF THE BEHAVIOR, AND ENSURE THE SAFETY OF
THE STUDENT OR STUDENTS AGAINST WHOM SUCH HARASSMENT, BULLYING OR
DISCRIMINATION WAS DIRECTED. SUCH ACTIONS SHALL BE CONSISTENT WITH THE
GUIDELINES CREATED PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION FOUR OF THIS SECTION;
F. PROHIBIT RETALIATION AGAINST ANY INDIVIDUAL WHO, IN GOOD FAITH,
REPORTS, OR ASSISTS IN THE INVESTIGATION OF, HARASSMENT, BULLYING OR
DISCRIMINATION;
G. INCLUDE A SCHOOL STRATEGY TO PREVENT HARASSMENT, BULLYING AND
DISCRIMINATION;
H. REQUIRE THE PRINCIPAL TO MAKE A REGULAR REPORT ON DATA AND TRENDS
RELATED TO HARASSMENT, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION TO THE SUPERINTEN
DENT;
I. REQUIRE THE PRINCIPAL, SUPERINTENDENT OR THE PRINCIPAL'S OR SUPER
INTENDENT'S DESIGNEE, TO NOTIFY PROMPTLY THE APPROPRIATE LOCAL LAW
ENFORCEMENT AGENCY WHEN SUCH PRINCIPAL, SUPERINTENDENT OR THE PRINCI
PAL'S OR SUPERINTENDENT'S DESIGNEE, BELIEVES THAT ANY HARASSMENT, BULLY
ING OR DISCRIMINATION CONSTITUTES CRIMINAL CONDUCT;
J. INCLUDE APPROPRIATE REFERENCES TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE SCHOOL
DISTRICT'S CODE OF CONDUCT ADOPTED PURSUANT TO SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT
HUNDRED ONE OF THIS CHAPTER THAT ARE RELEVANT TO HARASSMENT, BULLYING
AND DISCRIMINATION;
K. REQUIRE EACH SCHOOL, AT LEAST ONCE DURING EACH SCHOOL YEAR, TO
PROVIDE ALL SCHOOL EMPLOYEES, STUDENTS AND PARENTS WITH A WRITTEN OR
ELECTRONIC COPY OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S POLICIES CREATED PURSUANT TO
THIS SECTION, OR A PLAIN-LANGUAGE SUMMARY THEREOF, INCLUDING NOTIFICA
TION OF THE PROCESS BY WHICH STUDENTS, PARENTS AND SCHOOL EMPLOYEES MAY
REPORT HARASSMENT, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION. THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL
NOT BE CONSTRUED TO REQUIRE ADDITIONAL DISTRIBUTION OF SUCH POLICIES AND

S. 7740 4 A. 10712
GUIDELINES IF THEY ARE OTHERWISE DISTRIBUTED TO SCHOOL EMPLOYEES,
STUDENTS AND PARENTS;
L. MAINTAIN CURRENT VERSIONS OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S POLICIES CREATED
PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION ON THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S INTERNET WEBSITE, IF
ONE EXISTS;
2. Guidelines to be used in school training programs to discourage the
development of [discrimination or] harassment, BULLYING AND DISCRIMI
NATION, AND TO MAKE SCHOOL EMPLOYEES AWARE OF THE EFFECTS OF HARASSMENT,
BULLYING, CYBERBULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION ON STUDENTS and that are
designed:

a. to raise the awareness and sensitivity of school employees to
potential [discrimination or] harassment, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION,
and
b. to enable employees to prevent and respond to [discrimination or]
harassment, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION; and
3. Guidelines relating to the development of nondiscriminatory
instructional and counseling methods, and requiring that at least one
staff member at every school be thoroughly trained to handle human
relations in the areas of race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic
group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation,
gender, and sex[.]; AND
4. GUIDELINES RELATING TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF MEASURED, BALANCED AND
AGE-APPROPRIATE RESPONSES TO INSTANCES OF HARASSMENT, BULLYING OR
DISCRIMINATION BY STUDENTS, WITH REMEDIES AND PROCEDURES FOLLOWING A
PROGRESSIVE MODEL THAT MAKE APPROPRIATE USE OF INTERVENTION, DISCIPLINE
AND EDUCATION, VARY IN METHOD ACCORDING TO THE NATURE OF THE BEHAVIOR,
THE DEVELOPMENTAL AGE OF THE STUDENT AND THE STUDENT'S HISTORY OF PROB
LEM BEHAVIORS, AND ARE CONSISTENT WITH THE DISTRICT'S CODE OF CONDUCT;
AND
5. TRAINING REQUIRED BY THIS SECTION SHALL ADDRESS THE SOCIAL PATTERNS
OF HARASSMENT, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION, AS DEFINED IN SECTION ELEVEN
OF THIS ARTICLE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THOSE ACTS BASED ON A
PERSON'S ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RACE, COLOR, WEIGHT, NATIONAL ORIGIN,
ETHNIC GROUP, RELIGION, RELIGIOUS PRACTICE, DISABILITY, SEXUAL ORIEN
TATION, GENDER OR SEX, THE IDENTIFICATION AND MITIGATION OF HARASSMENT,
BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION, AND STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVELY ADDRESSING
PROBLEMS OF EXCLUSION, BIAS AND AGGRESSION IN EDUCATIONAL SETTINGS.

S 5.

Section 14 of the education law, as added by chapter 482 of the
laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows:

S 14. Commissioner's responsibilities. The commissioner shall:

1. Provide direction, which may include development of model policies
and, to the extent possible, direct services, to school districts
related to preventing [discrimination and] harassment, BULLYING AND
DISCRIMINATION and to fostering an environment in every school where all
children can learn free of manifestations of bias;
2. Provide grants, from funds appropriated for such purpose, to local
school districts to assist them in implementing the guidelines set forth
in this section; [and]
3. Promulgate regulations to assist school districts in implementing
this article including, but not limited to, regulations to assist school
districts in developing measured, balanced, and age-appropriate
responses to violations of this policy, with remedies and procedures
[focusing on] FOLLOWING A PROGRESSIVE MODEL THAT MAKE APPROPRIATE USE OF
intervention, DISCIPLINE and education[.] AND PROVIDE GUIDANCE RELATED
TO THE APPLICATION OF REGULATIONS; AND

S. 7740 5 A. 10712
4. PROVIDE GUIDANCE AND EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS
RELATED TO BEST PRACTICES IN ADDRESSING CYBERBULLYING AND HELPING FAMI
LIES AND COMMUNITIES WORK COOPERATIVELY WITH SCHOOLS IN ADDRESSING
CYBERBULLYING, WHETHER ON OR OFF SCHOOL PROPERTY OR AT OR AWAY FROM A
SCHOOL FUNCTION.
5. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL PRESCRIBE REGULATIONS THAT SCHOOL PROFES
SIONALS APPLYING ON OR AFTER JULY FIRST, TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN FOR A
CERTIFICATE OR LICENSE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO A CERTIFICATE OR
LICENSE VALID FOR SERVICE AS A CLASSROOM TEACHER, SCHOOL COUNSELOR,
SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST, SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER, SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR OR
SUPERVISOR OR SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS SHALL, IN ADDITION TO ALL OTHER
CERTIFICATION OR LICENSING REQUIREMENTS, HAVE COMPLETED TRAINING ON THE
SOCIAL PATTERNS OF HARASSMENT, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION, AS DEFINED
IN SECTION ELEVEN OF THIS ARTICLE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THOSE
ACTS BASED ON A PERSON'S ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RACE, COLOR, WEIGHT,
NATIONAL ORIGIN, ETHNIC GROUP, RELIGION, RELIGIOUS PRACTICE, DISABILITY,
SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER OR SEX, THE IDENTIFICATION AND MITIGATION OF
HARASSMENT, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION, AND STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVELY
ADDRESSING PROBLEMS OF EXCLUSION, BIAS AND AGGRESSION IN EDUCATIONAL
SETTINGS.

S 6.

Section 15 of the education law, as added by chapter 482 of the
laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows:

S 15. Reporting by commissioner. The commissioner shall create a
procedure under which material incidents of [discrimination and] harass
ment, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION on school grounds or at a school func
tion are reported to the department at least on an annual basis. Such
procedure shall provide that such reports shall, wherever possible, also
delineate the specific nature of such incidents of [discrimination or]
harassment, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION, provided that the commissioner
may comply with the requirements of this section through use of the
existing uniform violent incident reporting system. In addition the
department may conduct research or undertake studies to determine
compliance throughout the state with the provisions of this article.

S 7.

Section 16 of the education law, as added by chapter 482 of the
laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows:

S 16. Protection of people who report [discrimination or] harassment,
BULLYING OR DISCRIMINATION. Any person having reasonable cause to
suspect that a student has been subjected to [discrimination or] harass
ment, BULLYING OR DISCRIMINATION, by an employee or student, on school
grounds or at a school function, who, acting reasonably and in good
faith, [either] reports such information to school officials, to the
commissioner[,] or to law enforcement authorities, ACTS IN COMPLIANCE
WITH PARAGRAPH E OR I OF SUBDIVISION ONE OF SECTION THIRTEEN OF THIS
ARTICLE, or otherwise initiates, testifies, participates or assists in
any formal or informal proceedings under this article, shall have immu
nity from any civil liability that may arise from the making of such
report or from initiating, testifying, participating or assisting in
such formal or informal proceedings, and no school district or employee
shall take, request or cause a retaliatory action against any such
person who, acting reasonably and in good faith, either makes such a
report or initiates, testifies, participates or assists in such formal
or informal proceedings.

S 8.

Section 801-a of the education law, as amended by chapter 482 of
the laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows:

S 801-a. Instruction in civility, citizenship and character education.
The regents shall ensure that the course of instruction in grades

S. 7740 6 A. 10712
kindergarten through twelve includes a component on civility, citizen
ship and character education. Such component shall instruct students on
the principles of honesty, tolerance, personal responsibility, respect
for others, WITH AN EMPHASIS ON DISCOURAGING ACTS OF HARASSMENT, BULLY
ING, DISCRIMINATION, observance of laws and rules, courtesy, dignity and
other traits which will enhance the quality of their experiences in, and
contributions to, the community. SUCH COMPONENT SHALL INCLUDE INSTRUC
TION OF SAFE, RESPONSIBLE USE OF THE INTERNET AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNI
CATIONS. The regents shall determine how to incorporate such component
in existing curricula and the commissioner shall promulgate any regu
lations needed to carry out such determination of the regents. For the
purposes of this section, "tolerance," "respect for others" and "digni
ty" shall include awareness and sensitivity to [discrimination or]
harassment, BULLYING, DISCRIMINATION and civility in the relations of
people of different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups,
religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual
orientations, genders, and sexes.

S 9. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013; provided, however, that
if chapter 482 of the laws of 2010 shall not have taken effect on or
before such date then this act shall take effect on the same date and in
the same manner as such chapter of the laws of 2010 takes effect.

My Voice Nation Help
1 comments
dumplump
dumplump

What is this garbage? People are trying to pass a law that penalize people for being a-holes? I hate A-holes as much as the rest, but to have a law that sends people to jail for bullying online is stupid. Cyber-bullying is the dumbest garbage I have heard of. I don't like bullying, but unless someone is physically hurt from the practice I do not think there should be a law. The fact is kids spend too much time on their idiot facebooks, twitters, etc. Bullying is a part of life, and it will never stop. IF someone decides to commit suicide, so what. They were just weak to begin with.

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