Bill would offer anti-bullying classes

Schools will be asked to teach lessons that discourage bullying if a Southern Brooklyn lawmaker’s bill passes.

Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie) introduced legislation in October calling for a city agency, the Commission on Human Rights, which already hosts conflict resolution and sexual harassment programs in schools, to hold classes on preventing physical harassment, verbal abuse and cyber-bullying.

“We need to make sure that kids understand the dangers of doing the wrong thing,” Fidler said.

But Fidler’s bill has a tough mountain to climb because state law prohibits the City Council from writing laws that affect the Department of Education’s curriculum.

To get around that fact, the bill would require that the city make the anti-bullying programs available for principals to use on demand.

But a representative from the Commission on Human Rights spoke out against the bill at a May 9 Committee on Civil Rights City Council hearing, complaining that an order to design specific anti-bias programs would strain the agency’s resources, claiming the Commission already makes hundreds of anti-bias presentations to community groups and after-school programs each year, and may not have the manpower to comply with the bill.

“The Commission is concerned that this legislation, by mandating the particular topics that it must cover, would have the unintended consequence of limiting its operational flexibility and timeliness,” said spokesman Lee Hudson.

More from Around New York