ALBANY - State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, is one of a group of legislators backing three bills aimed to address hazing, bullying and cyber-bullying.
The one Little is sponsoring would increase penalties for hazing and is sponsored in the Assembly by Ron Canestrari, D-Cohoes. It has been referred to the Codes Committee in both houses.
The other two bills, sponsored by Republicans Kemp Haland of Garden City and Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie in the Senate, would define bullying and cyber-bullying and require school personnel to report them, require anti-bullying instruction in schools and create the crime of aggravated harassment of teachers and school personnel, among other measures.
Little joined several other Senate Republicans at a press conference Tuesday urging action on the bill, saying New York is one of only seven states that does not have a law to target school bullying. They cited the frequency of cyber-bullying, which allows harassment via text message and social networking sites long after school lets out. Forty-three percent of teenagers report being victims of cyber-bullying, but only 10 percent of them told their parents.
"Cyber-bullying goes far beyond what many of us may have encountered on the playground when we were kids," Little said. "Our schools are on the frontline and it's not an easy issue to address. But increased sensitivity, clearer guidelines on how to prevent bullying, and what to do when it happens, would mean a lot to thousands of kids who are needlessly suffering because they can't escape the bullying."