SYRACUSE, N.Y. August 22, 2012 — New York State United Teachers will make available at its State Fair booth anti-bullying material as part of its ongoing effort to help students, parents and teachers recognize and prevent bullying at school and in cyberspace. The materials, designed for the new school year, coincide with the implementation of the state’s Dignity for All Students Act, which took effect July 1.
“Bullying and harassment in any form are disruptive to a student’s ability to learn and a threat to the safety and security of our children,” said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. “Students learn best when they feel safe, and students cannot feel safe if bullies are creating a climate of fear and disrespect in their schools.”
The Dignity for All Students Act — the passage of which NYSUT advocated for years — prohibits harassment and discrimination of individuals on school property, or at school functions, based upon one’s race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender.
As part of the Dignity Act, schools are required to adopt guidelines for training programs that aim to raise the awareness of all school staff so that they can recognize and respond to bullying incidents. Schools will also be required to report bullying cases to the State Education Department.
“We view bullying as a civil- and human-rights issue,” said NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler. “Bullying impacts all our students and their ability to learn. Schools must be a haven for safety so that we can ensure our children’s well-being and provide them with an environment that fosters learning and the opportunity for success.”
Cutler, who heads the union’s social justice initiatives, will be at the NYSUT booth Thursday inside the fair’s Center of Progress Building, where he will be helping distribute the union’s “Stop Bullying!” material. He will also be available for media interviews from 10:30 a.m. to noon.