Bedford Schools Approve Cyberbullying Policy

Bedford joins a growing number of schools that have established policies on cyberbullying.

Bedford schools became the latest district to develop and approve policies addressing cyberbullying earlier this month.

The Bedford school board approved a policy on bullying and cyberbullying during its last meeting on June 16. The policy covers any intentional activity that is unwelcome and involves repetitive physical contact, personal communication or electronic exchanges.

The plan covers any activity that takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function or on a school bus. Activities that take place off school grounds but interfere with a student's ability to function in school are also included in the policy.

Anyone who is found to be in violation of the district's cyberbullying policy will be disciplined by the school district or by law enforcement agencies, depending on the severity of the case.

"On the bullying, we have felt confident all along that our standard code of conduct and common sense in managing situations allowed us to address bullying of any variety including cyberbullying," said Jere Hochman, superintendent of Bedford schools. "In addition, we have been overt in our expectations of adults regarding every person's responsibility to react and report and not to be a bystander."

Cyberbullying happens when the Internet, cell phones or other electronic devices are used to send or post text and images to hurt or embarrass another person. Almost half of all teenagers in this country have been affected by cyberbullying, according to the National Crime Prevention Council.

On Tuesday, the state Senate followed the Assembly's lead  in passing the Dignity For All Students Act. Although the bill doesn't specifically address cyberbullying, it does changes the state education law to protect public school students from extreme and constant bullying based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, religious practice, weight, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.

Governor David Patterson is also pushing a bill that would mandate that school officials post a special anti-bullying hotline and the New York City Department of Education is also working on a policy that would ban cyberbullying and sexting, the sending of sexually explicit text messages.

The Bedford school district's policy also calls for annual instruction for staff and students on bullying prevention.

"It is the responsibility of all staff members to take reasonable measures to prevent bullying and cyberbullying and shall report any such acts," the policy reads. "It is also the responsibility of students who observe any acts of bullying or cyberbullying to school authorities. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action."

"All staff are trained in mandatory reporting of situations that reach the mandatory child protection services reporting threshold and all staff are expected to read and sign our district boundaries list of responsibilities and common sense 'do's and don'ts'," Hochman said.

Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and associate professor of criminal justice at Florida Atlantic University, believes that government and school officials are doing a good job of acknowledging the dangers of cyberbullying.

"I'm encouraged by the work school districts are doing to address this issue," Hinduja said. "Bear in mind that many kids aren't going to be discouraged by prohibition, so many school are doing more in the way of programming. They're holding assemblies for kids and hosting peer mentoring programs that warn kids of the dangers of posting information online."

Elizabeth Wilson June 30, 2010 at 07:46 PM
This policy is great. It's fantastic that it involves activities that take place off school grounds. This is the missing link is most bullying policies. Now that we're all liable somehow (from the school, to teachers, to adults and kids), we need to work together and stay informed. Check out http://www.kiwicommons.com for current topics and news...and most of all, share it with your kids!
Dan Seidel January 24, 2011 at 02:53 PM
soooooo something of a political embarrassment would be sanctionable? SLIPPERY SLOPE OF LOSS OF FREE SPEECH!!! wow, America has lost its values. Teach respect and freedom and educate, but remember Tallentyre: "The men who had hated (the book), and had not particularly loved Helvetius, flocked round him now. Voltaire forgave him all injuries, intentional or unintentional. 'What a fuss about an omlette!' he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it', was his attitude now." Stop chipping away at the 1st Amendment - TEACH the Constitutional values of freedom of speech. This "bully code" merely adds another layer of criminal laws for our youth - the penal code is good enough to handle cyberbullying. Let the kids OWN free speech.
toni vea February 20, 2013 at 09:51 PM


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