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USA City Teachers Doubt Effectiveness Of Bully Bill, New Survey Finds


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
City teachers doubt effectiveness of bully bill, new survey finds

Albor Ruiz

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local...ery_effective_survey_finds.html#ixzz1FC9kPoK0

A few months after student Jagmohan Singh Premi, a Sikh, was brutally assaulted in Richmond Hill High School in 2008, then Schools Chancellor Joel Klein issued new, strict regulations to address the problem of bullying.

But city teachers doubt the effectiveness of that and other Department of Education anti-bullying initiatives, according to a survey released last Thursday.

Premi's case is a harrowing example of the reality of bullying in city schools due to bias against race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. The incident illustrates the urgent need to take effective measures to eradicate the problem.

Premi was 18 when he was attacked by another student with a long history of violent behavior. The bully punched the slightly built Premi in the face while gripping a key between his knuckles. The shy, young teen suffered an orbital fracture and severe bruising. It was not child's play.

Premi was wearing a patka or the turban his religion prescribes for all Sikh men. The physical assault came after the attacker tried to rip off Premi's patka while he was sitting in class, incredibly, with a teacher in the room.

But despite Chancellor's Regulation A-832, issued in September 2008, bullying continues to be a deeply emotionally scarring experience for many of our children.

"[This] report tells us why: Few teachers know that they have an obligation to protect students from bias-based bullying," said Amardeep Singh, director of programs at the Sikh Coalition, a survey sponsor.

The report also gauged the effectiveness of Respect for All, a diversity-training initiative launched in 2004 to combat homophobia in city schools.

Anly 14% of teachers and staff surveyed believed the regulation and the Respect for All program are effective in addressing bullying and bigotry in their schools.

Those who were offered Respect for All training complained about a lack of specific training on how to respond to bias incidents. They also expressed concerns about a lack of commitment from administrators, the survey found.

The Sikh Coalition, the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the New York Civil Liberties Union conducted the survey last school year. Some 198 eight teachers and school staff representing 117 public schools participated.

The reality, say teachers interviewed, is that not much has changed since the Chancellor's regulation was issued.

"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.

Singh said, "One of the problems is that the regulations are in the book but are not followed," noting the DOE has not yet commented on the survey.

The city is already taking some steps to strengthen its anti-bullying efforts.

"We're going to be expanding our school safety team," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is expected to meet with the survey sponsors this week. "Every school in the city has a school safety team but, up until now, that safety team was never charged with the issue of fighting bullying and harassment."

Beginning in September, those teams will have a Respect for All program liaison to respond to complaints about bias and harassment.

"I am sad this is happening in America," Premi said after his attack. "I want to go to school to learn."

He could have been speaking for the thousands of students who, like him, have been victims of bullying in their own schools.


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