To mark the start of National Bullying Prevention Month, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio released a report today recommending new workshops and outreach to parents in order to prevent bullying in New York City schools. The report builds on an anti-bullying forum hosted by de Blasio in August that focused on how schools could implement the State’s new Dignity for All Students Act for the current academic year. The law requires new curriculum, procedures and outreach, but its effectiveness depends on parents, teachers and administrators all knowing and understanding each other’s roles in intervening when bullying occurs. That broad education has not yet occurred.
“Parents, teachers and students all need to play an active role in ensuring the anti-bullying law yields actual changes in our classrooms and hallways. We have a superb law on the books—but we need to empower the people on the ground to make it real,” said Public Advocate de Blasio.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “In order to ensure that schools and students are free from bullying, the DOE must work together with parents and teachers. The DASA legislation is a good start, but it can't do it alone.”
A survey of New York City youth in all five boroughs found that one in five students experience bias-based harassment in schools.
The report’s recommendations include:
- Host yearly workshops in schools on bullying prevention and education. These workshops would foster parental engagement and promote discussions between school administrators, teachers and parents.
- Define and make public the specific training requirements set by City schools for faculty so communities can understand and have confidence in the preparedness of staff to address bullying.
- Examine data on bullying incidents in each school every semester to monitor the number of suspensions, and ensure that suspensions are not being overused in place of more effective anti-bullying strategies.
“Much work does indeed remain to be done. Teachers need to be supported to combat anti-LGBTQ bullying. It is shocking that the report found that over 90% of LGBTQ youth still experience bullying. This is not acceptable,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm, who has advocated for better funding for anti-bullying programs.
“Students belong in classrooms, and the DOE has made strides to support positive school discipline that keeps kids learning. Now it must work with principals at every New York City school to make sure these reforms take root and that kids that bully and those who are bullied get the help they need. Suspending and arresting bullies won’t make schools safer,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.
“The Brooklyn Community Pride Center remains committed to ensuring that young people across our borough and city are able to learn in environments that are safe while fostering and celebrating diversity. All too often our LGBT youth are victims of bullying which extends beyond the schoolyard; it is time that the city wakes up and provides every resource and tool to combating bullying within our schools, said Executive Director Erin Drinkwater. I am pleased that our elected officials working with parents, educators and community leaders are focused on making sure our schools are the safe spaces they are intended so that our young people can thrive,” said Erin Drinkwater, Executive Director of Brooklyn Community Pride Center.
Public Advocate de Blasio extends special thanks to the following panelists whose input helped shape the report: public school parent Lakisha Brooks, whose son was recently bullied on the school bus, District Leader Brad Hoylman, NYCLU’s Johanna Miller, public school teacher Luz Minaya, P.S. 140K Principal Roderick Palton, and Vanessa Portillo, the after-school program director at Thurgood Marshall Middle School.
The August panel was co-sponsored by Advocates for Children, United Federation of Teachers, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, Citywide Council on Special Education, Brooklyn Community Pride Center, State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblyman Micah Kellner, Council Member Daniel Dromm, Council Member Jimmy Van Brammer, Council Member Robert Jackson, District Leader Brad Hoylman, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Lambda Independent Democrats, Parent to Parent of NYS/Metro Office, Resources for Children with Special Needs, Sinergia Inc., Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC and Yetta Kurland from the Kurland Group.
Read the full report at: http://advocate.nyc.gov/bullying-nyc-public-schools