By Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes
Bullying is a growing problem affecting many children and adolescents. Unfortunately, all too often national headlines report a youngster tragically taking their lives as a result of bullying. Bullying is defined as repeated, unwanted, hurtful, and negative behavior against someone. Bullying occurs on a daily basis in schools and playgrounds throughout the country. With the emergence of the Internet and social media, bullying has also extended to cyberspace.
Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and at least 10 percent are bullied on a regular basis. It is important to recognize that children who are bullied experience real suffering that can interfere with their social and emotional development, as well as their school performance. Studies have shown that children who have been identified as a bully by age eight are six times more likely to have a criminal conviction by age 24.
In an effort to curb bullying, my office spearheads the production of several anti-bullying videos by fourth and fifth graders through a contest that we run each year. Students are asked to create a 90-second video that addresses the topic of bullying. One student produced a “pledge to stop bullying” video that offers bullies help to stop their bullying. Others created rap songs to get out their message that bullying is not okay. Peer pressure can be very effective. If more young people were to take a stand against bullying, then the phenomenon would likely diminish over time.
On July 1, 2012, New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act took effect. The Dignity Act seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.
For the past four years my staff has visited and met regularly with Brooklyn teachers, school administrators, students and parents about how to prevent or address various types of bullying. To learn more or to request a workshop, please call my office’s hotline at (718) 250-3395.
When parents, teachers and kids work together, we can all help put an end to bullying.