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New York Governor Signs Strict Measure Fighting Cyber Bullying in Schools

Originally posted on Huffington Post in 2012

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York teachers who learn that a student has been bullied online will be required to report the incident to school administrators within one day, under a law signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday.

The measure, which goes into effect on July 1, 2013, is part of an effort to crack down on cyber bullying through emails, text messaging and social networks.

“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 said in a written statement.

The law, which stops short of making cyber bullying a crime, puts in place a number of steps designed to help prevent it inside and outside schools.

School employees who witness or learn of online harassment must notify the school’s administration within one school day, and must file a written report within another two days.

The law also requires teachers be trained on identifying and mitigating bullying incidents.

“Students today live in a cyber-world, it’s how most choose to communicate. It’s also how many are cyberbullied – whether through messaging, emails or social networking sites, it’s difficult for victims to escape the 24/7 exposure to threats, bullying or discrimination,” New York Senator Stephen Saland said in a statement.

Last year, New York State Senator Jeffrey Klein introduced a different cyber-bullying bill that would have added “harassment through electronic communication” to the crime of “stalking in the third degree.”

That bill was killed in the New York Assembly.

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, every state but Montana has a law in place to prevent bullying. Forty-two states’ laws include electronic harassment, and 14 include cyber-bullying.