Dignity at School, Dignity at Home

The Dignity for All Students Act or DASA was passed by the New York State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Paterson in 2010 and became effective July 1, 2012. Under this law, schools are required to provide a school environment free from discrimination and harassment which is defined as verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being, or cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety.

In addition to amending codes of conduct, all schools must inform students about anti-harassment policies in plain, age-appropriate language, train all faculty and staff, and provide instruction in civility, citizenship and character education. At least one employee is designated as the DASA Coordinator (DAC) who is available to students and staff to handle issues of bullying and harassment. The law specifically forbids discrimination and harassment based on: race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, religious practices, mental and physical abilities, and weight.

What parents can do at school

Here are some steps parents can take to assist with creating a school environment free from harassment:

  1. Read all materials from the school, especially the Student Code of Conduct and the Parent-Student Handbook, paying particular attention to information on DASA.
  2. Attend any Open House or Parent Orientation meetings and ask about DASA if specific information is not shared.
  3. Participate in your PTO and work together with other parents to learn about DASA.
  4. Know the DAC and initiate a relationship especially if your child is vulnerable to bullying or has a history of being victimized.
  5. Talk to your child about DASA and how he or she should behave in school.

What parents can do at home

In addition to being informed advocates for their children at school, parents can create a home environment that supports their child’s dignity. Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Be a role model for sensitivity and tolerance. Refusing to entertain gossip or racist jokes is a good start.
  2. Avoid labels. While you may think calling your child irresponsible or lazy will motivate her, it may only reinforce the negative names she is called at school
  3. Be careful with criticism. If you are unhappy with your child’s behavior or effort, say “I’m not happy,” then focus on a plan for improvement, using lots of encouragement.
  4. Allow your child to have his own ideas and opinions and make his own decisions, even when you strongly disagree. Unless it’s a matter of safety, letting kids handle their own issues and make mistakes is the best way for them to become confident and competent.

For additional resources on this topic, please click on the PDF’s attached below:

AL POP Social networking and cyberbullying
MT Children and Bullying Guide for Parents
NH Why Do Some Children Bully
NC Bullies

Last updated August 8, 2015