Anti-Bullying Efforts Get A Cyber Lifeline

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Legislator Josh Lafazan and County Executive Laura Curran (far left) with Shayna Sakhai, a 12-year-old Syosset middle school student who raised more than $5,000 for the Long Island Coalition Against Bullying (LICAB)

A countywide anti-bullying website, www.nassaustopbullying.org, was unveiled recently as part of a new initiative backed by County Executive Laura Curran, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, Legislators Joshua Lafazan and Arnold Drucker, and local
anti-bullying advocates.

The site, developed by Nassau County’s Department of Information Technology, Department of Health and Human Services and the Nassau County Police Department features definitions and explanations of different kinds of bullying, guidance for spotting bullying and bullying prevention resources.

After passing with unanimous support in the Nassau County Legislature, Curran recently signed the NassauStopBullying.org bill.

“There is no excuse for bullying. It’s nothing new and there are so many ways to do the bullying through social media and kids posting things. I think it’s very difficult for children to live in this world,” Curran said. “I am proud to support Legislator Lafazan’s initiative to protect our youth and provide much-needed anti-bullying resources with this new site. Anything that we can do as adults to help [our children] and arm them with confidence, kindness and strength, I am all for. I’m so excited about this initiative that we’re rolling out today.”

“When families first confront the ugly realities of bullying, it’s often hard to know where to turn and what to do. By launching NassauStopBullying.org, we hope to make these challenging and frightening moments more manageable for everyone involved,” Lafazan said. “I am extremely grateful for the support County Executive Curran and our colleagues across Nassau County have shown this important initiative.”

The proposal for this website was brought to Lafazan by Joseph Salamone, the CEO of the Long Island Coalition Against Bullying. For the young legislator, it was an important idea that would only come to fruition via broad support.

“Today we rejoice in hope because while politicians cannot legislate hope, hope can be given to others through legislation. Nassau Stop Bullying means that we have brought together a broad and powerful coalition of stakeholders including police officers, social workers, teachers, parents and students to take meaningful action that will make a difference in the lives of others,” Lafazan said. “This website means that no longer will parents, students or community leaders, in times of adversity and difficulty, have to struggle to find the resources they need to help themselves or to help a loved one. NassauStopBullying.org will be a bright beacon of information for people of all ages, when it comes to bullying, as well as bullying prevention.”

Part of the initiative includes identifying a Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) school coordinator for each of Nassau County’s 56 school districts. DASA coordinators will act as anti-bullying change agents throughout Nassau County’s schools.

“Bullying is dangerous. Our precious commodity is our children. We are pushing forward with a lot of different programs in the police department with our county executive and our legislature on school safety and this is one of them,” Ryder said. “We have a zero tolerance for it in the schools. We have been working very closely with all our superintendents and all the principals in our schools about bullying issues. The Nassau County Police Department is proud to work with the County Executive and Legislator Lafazan on this initiative.”

Ryder also announced a School Safety Forum that will be held on Sept. 25 at the David S. Mack Center at Hofstra University, It will specifically address cyber-bullying, along with active shooter situations and the county’s current opiates situation in Nassau County.
Zero tolerance for bullying was the buzzword bandied about at this event by Lafazan, Jericho School District Superintendent Hank Grisham (whose schools have been at the forefront of anti-bullying efforts) and Ryder. It was a sentiment echoed by the county executive.

“Bullying of an individual of any nature should never be tolerated and often leads to more significant negative outcomes as it harbors ill feelings for decades to come,” Curran said. “I applaud Legislator Lafazan’s efforts for bringing this topic to light, for creating a useful website and for aggressively working with other agencies to decrease its harmful effects.”

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In addition to being editor of Garden City Life and Syosset-Jericho Tribune, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

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