Schools, officials take aim at cyberbullying

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“Why would you allow everyone to see what you’re doing?” he said. “’Oh, I’m in the shower, oh, I’m making pancakes, who cares?’”

Burak pointed out that only a few decades ago, children had no way of regularly communicating with someone thousands of miles away, but now it’s a common occurrence.

“The world to a child is no longer one’s immediate surroundings,” she said, “it is no longer the family environment and neighborhood stability that parents provide for them. It is indeed the entire world — the good, the bad. Online capabilities force us to become more sounded when it comes to parenting as we cannot protect our kids from everything or everyone in that world online.”

Santino spoke about his childhood in East Rockaway and said that there were only isolated instances of bullying, but not anything like what goes on over the Internet today. He said the subject is too important not focus on when people from thousands of miles away, “can reach into our little safe communities and do irreparable harm to the people we love.”

Julie Bergin, a PTA member at West End Elementary School, attended the event with her nine-year-old daughter Emily. “I wanted to learn how to teach my kids be good citizens on the Internet and to not do anything wrong,” she said. Bergin added it’s important for kids to know how to be responsible on the Internet since they can access it at any time.

Bullying has been in existence forever, Curran said, and it probably always will be in one form or another. “Although bullying has been around forever,” he said, “that doesn’t mean we should accept it in today’s world. We should do everything in our power to limit it as much as possible.”

New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act, which went into effect on July 2012, will feature a new measure on cyberbullying come July 2013. The law requires that schools act in cases of cyberbullying, which may occur on or off campus, when it creates or would create a substantial risk to the school environment, substantially interferes with a student’s educational performance or mental, emotional or physical well-being, or causes a student to fear for his or her physical safety. 

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