Bullying: Its Serious Business.

Author:Mcmahon, Michael E.
Position:Special Section on Bullying Prevention

WHILE "BULLYING" may not be found within the sections of the New York State Penal Law, we know the many devastating forms bullying can take, and the life-altering impacts on those who are victimized. Through our community outreach efforts led by our Community Partnerships Unit, we have been made aware of many incidents of bullying involving students of all ages and the toll it takes on them and their families.

We know that bullying behavior among children can all too often lead to more serious criminal behavior when these children become adults. In 2017, 240 shooting incidents and 24 homicides that took place in New York City had their roots in cyberbullying, not to mention hundreds of assaults and other violent and life-altering crimes committed with a direct link to bullying behavior.

Further, in a recent community survey of Staten Island conducted by the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness, Islanders overwhelmingly stated that violence was their primary public health concern, despite the fact that crime continues to drop across the borough. With the advent of social media, acts of violence committed by adults and children are broadcast widely for all to see, furthering the perception that these incidents are happening with greater frequency.

It is our duty as members of the chief law enforcement agency in the borough to not only prosecute crime, but to prevent crime as well. We recognized that the opportunity to bring the message of respect and tolerance for all directly to Staten Island's schoolchildren would yield dividends for years to come.

Here on Staten Island, we recently met with the family of a 12 year old boy who committed suicide due in part to incessant cyber-bullying. His parents were unaware their son was being bullied; to them he did not exhibit stress, depression, or any of the tell-tale signs that something was wrong. It was not until after his death that his parents discovered he was being bullied in school.

Studies have shown bullying impacts approximately 1 in 7 students nationwide either as the victim or as the bully themselves. According to the National Education Association, more than 160,000 children nationwide miss school every day due to the fear of an attack or intimidation from bullies. Not only does bullying have immediate impacts on the health and safety of our children, it can have a long-term impact on a child's educational development if they miss extended time in the classroom.

Children who...

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