Milford — Preventing bullying and promoting respect were the topics of the day at Milford Central School on Tuesday.
Katy Allen of the Impact Training and Evaluation, Inc., visited the district to host informational sessions about working together to implement The New York State Dignity for All Students Act. According the State Education Department, the legislation, which took effect on July 1, 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.
Allen went over the definitions of words such as conflict, bullying, cyberbullying, drama, and harassment and described mean teasing verses fun teasing – all things that educators will be dealing with to help ensure students feel like schools provide comfortable learning environments.
According to Allen, a study done in 2001 showed 9 percent of students bullied others in school yearly and 13 percent were victims. She said she estimates that 16 to 24 percent of high school students were involved in cyberbullying (bullying that takes place using electronic technology) the past year.
MCS Principal Michael Miller said overseeing cyberbullying is hard enough, but dealing with something that turns into aggravated harassment is even more tricky because that is a crime. Miller said he understands aggravated harassment to be the use of electronic technology of some kind and making someone feel uncomfortable.
"We are not in a position to judge that. We do not know yet as a school district, because we won't know until July of 2013, as to whether or not the police departments- whether the state police or the county police or the local constables- will work with us. We don't typically turn things in. Our MO is to say to you as parents, 'that this is something you might want to take to the police department,"' Miller said.