Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office says it's working to prevent cyberbullying. District Attorney Cy Vance opened a cyber crimes bureau in his office this year and they are going to schools and community centers around New York city to educate kids and their families about the problem. Vance said it may be easy to intimidate or mock someone via text and email, but the results can be devastating.
"I think its a growing phenomenon and we're trying to keep it out of our criminal courts by -- as we say -- educating parents and kids about the issue," said Vance.
The seriousness of cyberbullying came into focus this fall when a Rutgers University student committed suicide after his roommate secretly recorded and posted a video of him on the web.
Vance will speak at a forum on bullying on Wednesday along with NYPD school safety officers, therapists and members of an LGBT- friendly "safe schools" program.
Schools from elementary to college-level are struggling to implement policies against cyberbullying. One challenge schools face is that students often send the offensive emails and texts after school hours and off-campus.
According to the Department of Education, there is currently no set punishment for cyberbullying. Instead, there are a range of actions principals can take, including parent conferences, counseling or suspension.
The D.A.'s office says it has no city statistics on cyberbullying but, when speaking to parents, personnel in the the cyber crimes bureau cite a UCLA study from two years ago that found nearly 3 out of 4 teenagers were bullied online over a 12-month period.