Education

New York City Launches $8 Million Anti-Bullying Campaign

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In the wake of a fatal classroom stabbing at a Bronx high school, the city of New York is doing what it can to help fight bullying in classrooms throughout its five boroughs. It has been announced that the city will spend $8 million on an anti-bullying company, which is set to provide programming for 300 schools with high reported incidents of bullying.

According to a statement, the city will dedicate the $8 million to support new community workshops, mental health training, reporting portal, expansion of student clubs, and increased protection for students, which will enhance supports for students, families, and staff. Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña described the goals for the forthcoming initiative. “Bullying, harassment and discrimination have no place in our schools and these reforms, including strengthened training for staff and families, a new family-facing reporting portal, and expanded mental health services, will deliver critical resources to prevent and address bullying in schools,” Fariña said in the statement. “We must work together to ensure that all school communities, particularly parents, are engaged as partners in this ongoing work.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also spoke about the new campaign. “As a parent and your Mayor, there is nothing more important than the safety and wellbeing of all New York City kids,” he said. “Guided by input from parents across the five boroughs, this new investment will build upon our current efforts to ensure that our classrooms are inclusive learning environments, and keep crime in schools as its historic low.”

According to the statement, along with the $8 million, the plan will also set aside $1 million in funding to support clubs, including the Gay-Straight Alliances and Respect for All. Earlier this month, Mayor De Blasio and the Chancellor hosted a discussion with parent leaders on school safety – with the feedback they received, they informed several of the new initiatives. Per the statement, an in-depth look of the reforms include:

  • Bullying Complaint Portal: Family engagement is critical to strong school communities and the Bullying Complaint Portal will be an easy-to-use, public-facing tool for families to report online any incidents of student discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying. Families who report incidents of bullying against their children will receive an electronic acknowledgment of receipt within one school day and will be informed of the outcome of the investigation within 10 school days. Launching in 2019, the portal will increase access for families and help the DOE determine where additional resources are needed at schools across the city.
  • Mental Health First Aid Training and Community Workshops: Families, community members, staff, and students will also be provided with Mental Health First Aid training and workshops on bullying prevention and reduction. The Mental Health First Aid trainings will be offered in partnership with DOHMH and ThriveNYC, and will cover the five-step action plan for assessing, identifying, and offering assistance to students in crisis. There will also be anti-bullying workshops focusing on restorative practices, LGBT supports, cyberbullying, and religious tolerance.
  • Anti-Bias and Anti-Bullying Training for Staff: In January, DOE will offer Kognito training — a web-based anti-bias interactive training — for all school-based employees, in addition to anti-bias training that is conducted by the Anti-Defamation League for school staff. Additionally, Parent Coordinators will receive targeted training from the Family and Community Engagement Office (FACE) that will cover topics including creating a supportive environment, identifying bullying, and supporting those involved in bullying.
  • Increased Protection from Bullying for Students: The DOE will implement a new protocol that requires schools to develop individual student action plans to address instances when there are several substantiated claims of bullying against the same student. Students who experience one or more incidents of bullying or harassment will be eligible to receive a transfer, and the DOE will work with the family to identify alternative placement options as soon as the transfer is requested.
  • Funding for Student-Led Clubs: The City is dedicating $1 million to support the establishment of groups, such as student-led Gender and Sexuality Alliances and Respect For All clubs. Middle schools and high schools across the city will be able to apply to receive funding to support the launch of new organizations.
  • Targeted Support for 300 Schools: Schools with high bullying rates will receive targeted social-emotional support to train staff and support students. Programs for these schools will focus on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

The news of the new campaign comes after a fatal stabbing at The Urban Assembly School of Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx. Back in September, an 18-year-old student, Abel Cedeno, stabbed his classmate to death and seriously injured another in front of the entire class –according to a friend and former schoolmate, the student snapped after being harassed frequently and bullied for his “flamboyant” personality.

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