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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
February 25, 2011

NYC Teachers Doubt Effectiveness of City Anti-Bullying Efforts

(New York, New York) February 25, 2011 –The New York City Department of Education is providing teachers insufficient resources and training to protect students from bullying and bias-based harassment, according to an overwhelming majority of city teachers surveyed in a report released yesterday by the Sikh Coalition, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“Any staff training on harassment that my school did last year was conducted in a lackadaisical, perfunctory manner,” said Pat Compton, a former teacher at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn who retired at the end of the 2009-10 school year. “While some information on harassment and bullying is presented as a single item at the staff conference at the start of the school year, it is always done very briefly, as a single point on the agenda.”

The report, Bullying in New York City Schools: Educators Speak Out, summarizes the results of a survey conducted during the 2009-2010 school year of 198  teachers and school staff at 117 public schools.  It assesses the Department of Education’s (DOE) progress in enforcing Chancellor’s Regulation A-832, which was issued in September 2008 to address student-to-student bullying and bias-based harassment. It also assesses the DOE’s “Respect for All” program, a diversity training initiative. 

The report’s key findings were:

  • Only 14 percent of teachers and staff surveyed said that the Chancellor’s Regulation and the Respect for All program are “effective” or “very effective” in addressing bullying and bigotry in their schools. 
  • Although the DOE’s two-day “Respect for All” training is available to all teachers, only about 30 percent said their school even offered training. 
  • Only about 31 percent of the respondents said students in their schools received diversity or “Respect for All” training.

In June 2009, the Sikh Coalition, the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, and AALDEF released a survey of more than 1,000 students and educators in city public schools on the implementation of the city’s anti-bullying measures. The survey found that many students didn’t know how to report bullying incidents, schools were failing to implement harassment-prevention measures, and educators were failing to investigate bullying reports. 

In response, the DOE and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in October 2009 announced several important expansions to anti-bullying measures in city schools.  Among the improvements, the DOE made mandatory two-day Respect for All teacher trainings for two staff members in every public school. Unfortunately, the latest survey results cast doubt on the success of these measures.

Today’s report therefore makes the following recommendations to the DOE:

  • Fully implement Chancellor’s Regulation A-832, and allocate resources for its implementation.
  • Follow state law. Expand Chancellor’s Regulation A-832 so it is in compliance with the recently enacted New York State Dignity for All Students Act by prohibiting staff-to-student bullying and expanding public reporting requirements.
  • Expand and make mandatory student and staff training on diversity initiatives such as “Respect for All”

“Too many students suffer from bullying in their schools because of their race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation,” said Amardeep Singh, Director of Programs at the Sikh Coalition. “Today’s report tells us why: Few teachers know that they have specific obligations under existing rules to protect students from bullying. The Department of Education must invest resources to end this dynamic. Otherwise the city’s good intentions to combat bullying are merely good intentions lacking substance.”

Check out recent media coverage on the report's release at NPR or New York Daily News.

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