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Students return to school under new anti-bullying act

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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As students returned to the classroom this week, a new rule is in place that will help prevent bullying.  WBFO & AM-970's Eileen Buckley says the  newly enacted state-wide Dignity for All Students Act was signed July first.

"If we can support principals and teachers in creating the right environment will make not only a safer school  but more effective schools," said  State Education Commissioner John King.  King reacted to questions about the Dignity for All Students Act during a visit to Buffalo earlier this week. 

King said the act will create the right culture to instill in students that bullying is wrong.

"The challenge is how do you make sure when you implement something like the Dignity for All Students Act that you're focused not just on the consequences when students make bad decisions, but really about focus on creating a culture," said King.  

The Act provides new guidelines when a student bullies others.  It is created to promote awareness and sensitivity -- no matter their race, religion, physical abilities or gender identity. 

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Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
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State Board of Regents Chancellor-Emeritus Robert Bennett & State Education Commissioner John King

September 18th will mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Williamsville student Jamie Rodemeyer.  The young teen took own life for being bullied as he struggled with his sexuality. 

"Intolerance at the extreme and it was very bad and embarrassing," said State Board of Regents Chancellor-Emeritus Robert Bennett.  "and it continued after that child's death, which made it even worse,"

Bennett said it's also important engage parents and let them know that any form of bullying is not acceptable. lies. 

"I agree with the commissioner on creating a good culture, but when that line is crossed  and the behavior is bad  I think the students should have a consequence and well as their families," said Bennett.

The state legislature also took action to create a better law that deals with cyber bullying through email, social networks and texting.  Governor Cuomo signed it, but the new law doesn't take effect until July of 2013.