What does the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) do?
- DASA is designed to protect public school students from bullying by employees or other students based on actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or sex.
- DASA requires schools and districts to revise codes of conduct to prohibit bullying and promote a bully-free environment, and to include age-appropriate versions of the policy in codes of conduct.
- DASA requires K-12 schools to incorporate curriculum that promotes awareness of and sensitivity to discrimination and diversity as part of civility and citizenship classes.
DASA requires every school to nominate a Dignity Act Coordinator that will be responsible for handling incidents of bullying.
- For elementary school buildings, please contact the building principal.
- DASA requires schools to collect and report data on bullying to the New York State education commissioner at least once a year.
- DASA prohibits retaliation against anyone who reports incidents of bullying.
DASA holds the State education commissioner responsible for helping school districts develop effective responses to bullying that are focused on solutions, intervention and education.
What does DASA define 'bullying' to mean?
- Threats, intimidating behavior or abuse on school property that interferes with a student’s safety and learning experience or causes a student to be afraid for his or her safety through the expectation of bodily or emotional harm.
- Effective on July 1, 2013, the definition of bullying will include cyberbullying as well as harassment that occurs off school property that creates a risk for harm or bullying on school property.
What to do if your child is being bullied:
- Listen to your child and assure them that they have a right to be safe.
- Know the facts.
- Make an appointment to speak with your child's counselor, social worker, psychologist, assistant principal or the school's Dignity Act Coordinator.
Children do not always tell parents or teachers that they are being bullied. Be aware of the signs that your child is being bullied:
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed property
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches
- Changes in eating habits
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Decreased self esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
Five Things Every Parent Can Do To Protect their Kids Online
(1) Talk to your kids about cyberbullying before it becomes an issue.
- Don't wait until an incident occurs to talk with your kids. Cyberbullying typically begins in 3rd and 4th grade so it's never too early to have a conversation with your child.
- Let your kids know that you are there for them if they are in trouble, no matter what – even if they are partly responsible for a situation.
Be sure that your kids understand the seriousness of the issue. What may seem like a practical joke among peers at first can have grave consequences. At least 27 teens have taken their own lives after being cyberbullied.
(2) Know what websites your child visits regularly and understand the risks and security measures of each site.
- Does your child have a Facebook account, do they use Formspring.me, do they have a blog or do they tweet? These are important questions that every parent should know in order to assess the potential risks their children face online.
- Once you know where your child spends most of their time online, do a bit of research about the safety measures offered by these websites. You should also create an account and log in yourself to understand what each of these websites offer. If you want to be able to have an open dialogue with your kids about online activities it's important to keep up to date on the latest sites and trends.
(3) Google your child’s name and set up a "google alert" to be notified when information about your child is posted online.
- When you google your child's name, look to see if there are any blogs, Facebook pages or Formspring pages that speak negatively about your child.
- Are there sites where you think someone may be impersonating your child? 86% of elementary school students share their passwords with their friend(s) and password theft or misuse accounts for 27% of cyberbullying.
(4) Monitor your child’s behavior and emotions when they are spending time on the internet or text messaging.
- Is your child avoiding the computer, cell phone, and other devices? Do they appear stressed when receiving e-mails, instant messages or text messages? Increased sadness, anger, frustration, reduced tolerance and worry are also signs that your child may be a victim of cyberbullying.
- Alternatively, is your child is switching screens or closing programs when you, or others, are nearby? Do they laugh excessively while using the computer or cell phone or do they appear to use multiple online accounts or an account that is not his or her own? If so, you may need to explore if your child is cyberbullying others.
(5) If you suspect your child is being bullied, address the issue immediately.
- Discourage your child from responding to the cyberbullying. If the cyberbullying is coming through e-mail, a cell phone or social networking website, it may be possible to block future contact.
- Preserve evidence. This is crucial for indentifying the bully and making a case.
- Contact your child's school. If the cyberbullying is occurring through a school district system, school administrators have an obligation to intervene. Even if the cyberbullying is occurring off campus, make school administrators aware of the problem.
- Contact 911 or your local police if cyberbullying involves acts such as: threats of violence; extortion; obscene or harassing phone calls or text messages; harassment, stalking, or hate crimes; or child pornography.
Adapted from the Office of the New York City Public Advocate, http://pubadvocate.nyc.gov/, 2012.