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Letter: New York State Needs a Law that Effectively Combats Bullying (Staten Island Advance)

To the Editor:

An Associated Press article published on April 6, “Bullying raises questions about schools’ vigilance,” misleadingly counts New York State among states with anti-bullying laws.

In fact, New York has no comprehensive law addressing bullying and harassment in public schools. It is among nine states to receive an “F” from Bully Police USA, a national watchdog group that advocates for anti-bullying laws.

State lawmakers can change this by passing the Dignity for All Students Act — legislation that would empower educators throughout the state to provide students a safe, comfortable learning environment.

The bill, which has passed the Assembly multiple times only to stall in the state Senate, aims to protect students from any harassment that substantially interferes with their education.

Specifically, it would address harassment and discrimination based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, religious practice, weight, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.

Teachers and staff would receive regular training to properly address instances of harassment and discrimination. The bill would require monitoring and reporting of such incidents.

Gov. David Paterson supports this legislation. The Senate must pass it quickly.

Donna Lieberman
Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union

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