NY State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, (D-Bronx/ Westchester), and Assemblyman William Scarborough, (D-Jamaica) were joined by Miss New York 2011 Kaitlin Monte, anti-cyberbullying advocates, and victims to announce the launch of the New York Cyberbully Census.
This data gathering initiative - the first of its kind - is expected to provide a comprehensive picture of the problem of cyberbullying in New York State. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, more than 43% of teens nationwide have reported being the victims of cyberbullying. While news of cyberbullying related teen suicides - most recently the death of a 14-year-old Buffalo area student – have been well reported, there are currently no New York specific numbers on just how pervasive and extensive the trend of cyberbullying is.
The New York Cyberbully Census, which can be found at www.nycyberbullycensus.com, is a 12-question online survey aimed at gathering information from students in Grades 3-12 throughout New York. The survey is designed to gauge student attitudes, as well as experiences with cyberbullying. The survey is anonymous, allowing students to answer questions honestly and without fear of embarrassment.
Monte, who has made combating bullying part of her platform as Miss New York 2011, has joined Klein in efforts to promote the New York Cyberbully Census. Additionally, the survey will be promoted by the anti-bullying groups Teen Angels, the Jamie Isaacs Foundation for Anti-Bullying, and similar organizations.
The survey was developed with Parry Aftab, a lawyer, recognized authority on anti-cyberbullying efforts and the founder of www.stopcyberbullying.com.
Cyberbullying, which is persistent harassment through electronic communication, has become more and more prevalent as technology, such as smart phones and social networking sites, continue to evolve and make communication easy, quick and readily accessible to teens and youth. Many experts believe the laws, however, have not kept pace with technology, which has made cyberbullying difficult to prosecute.
Senator Klein and Assemblyman Scarborough have proposed new legislation to modernize New York's stalking laws to include cyberbullying and to make “bullycide," the act intentionally causing a suicide via cyberbullying, covered under manslaughter statutes.
The data from the Cyberbully Census, which is expected to run until the end of the year, will be collected and released during the next legislative session, which starts in January 2012.