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New York: Tackling bullying, harassment and discrimination

Schools in New York are required to have policies in place that cover bullying and what to do if there are bullying concerns in their school system. New York strictly defines bullying as harassment or actions that create a hostile environment through the use of threats or negative conduct. Some kinds of poor conduct that would qualify as harassment or bullying include abuse, intimidation and cyberbullying.

New York is special in that it recognizes cyberbullying as a type of harassment and bullying, specifically naming it in school policies. Cyberbullying is not limited to the internet. Instead, it can occur through any form of electronic communication including videos, phone calls and other services.

Does New York provide anti-bullying laws that protect children when they're not on campus?

Yes. New York has anti-bullying laws that cover situations that occur off-campus if those bullying cases could affect children at school or if there is a risk of the threats, conduct, abuse or intimidation taking place on school grounds in the future.

Schools in New York must have and implement policies that create school environments free of bullying, discrimination and harassment. Each school should have at least one employee who is responsible for receiving reports of bullying, discrimination and harassment, procedures for investigation and documentation, and defined actions that they will take to end the problems students are facing in school as a result of bullying.

Schools are also required to prohibit retaliation against those who report bullying and have strategies to help prevent these concerns in their school system. Each school also has to determine which requirements have to be met for them to call the authorities and how the school will publicize the bullying, harassment and discrimination policies.

What should you do if your child is harassed or bullied at school or home?

To start with, you and your child should report the incident to the designated school official. If you believe that the incident is serious enough, you may also reach out to law enforcement to seek a resolution. As a parent, taking steps to protect your child is essential, so you may wish to keep them home from school until the situation is resolved.

Your attorney can give you more information about what to expect if you are facing trouble with bullying and harassment. If the school does not address the problem, you can take it to court.

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