New York State's Dignity for all Students Act
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, and harassment (which includes bullying) on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function."No student shall be subjected to... harassment by employees or students on school property or at a school function; nor shall any student be subjected to discrimination based upon a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity or expression), or sex by school employees or students on school property or at a school function."*Put into effect July 1, 2012 (Amended July 1, 2013)
The Dignity Act Terms & Definitions
The Dignity Act (as enacted on July 1, 2012) prohibits discrimination and harassment of students by staff and other students defined as: the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student's educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being; or conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety; such conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse includes but is not limited to conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse based on a person's actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.
Bullying is a form of harassment. According to the US Department of Education bullying generally involves the following characteristics:
An imbalance of power:
Children who bully use their power, such as physical strength access to embarrassing information or popularity, to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
The Intent to Cause Harm:
The person bullying has a goal to cause harm.
Bullying behaviors generally are repeated and happen over time.