Niagara Gazette —
Much of the focus, he said, is in online bullying – or cyberbullying – on websites like Facebook and Twitter.
"Maybe in the old days, these things would have been part of a note passed under a table," Casseri said. "Now, if you call somebody ugly or stupid or fat, that gets back to that person instantaneously. So we do deal with it. At this point, it's not an over-the-top issue, but it's something we're concerned with."
In the fight against bullying, technology is both the greatest tool available and the worst enemy administrators face. Phones equipped with more computing power than laptop computers are attached to children now and many districts are even allowing them to remain on. They're accessing Facebook and Twitter during school hours to post these derogatory comments or photos with applications like Instagram.
For Niagara Falls City School District Dignity Act Coordinator Tom Fisher, technology only makes the law much more important as students get away from tormenting face-to-face.
"We see it as an ongoing issue," he said. "Because of the way technology is today, I think this act is important. Bullying is no longer something kids need to do in-person. So I think this act helps because it covers that area."
It isn't easy to fix
A common theme among most of the responses from administrators is the Dignity Act doesn't actually give districts, teachers or parents any new teeth with which to combat harassment in any of its forms. Instead, it boils down, in practice, to more paperwork for them and the state, since it only requires schools to keep a detailed log of every instance and submit it to the education department every month.
It does, however, provide districts like Lewiston-Porter, Niagara-Wheatfield and Niagara Falls with clear definitions of bullying and harassment, allowing them to better judge what is problematic and what needs to be worked through.