JERICHO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Families and educators on Long Island may be one step closer to identifying warning signs of bullying, and students’ rights if they are victims.
Bullying is a tough hurdle to overcome.
“You don’t feel good about yourself. You are upset. You don’t want to be near that person who bullied you,” victim Shayna Sakhai told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan on Wednesday.
No one knew the hurt 12-year-old Sakhai felt inside. She put on a brave front.
“She is a very strong girl and determined and she had her mind set to make a change,” father David Sakhai said.
Shayna started a youth grassroots anti-bullying middle school movement that caught the attention of Nassau County’s millennial legislator, 24-year-old Joshua Lafazan.
On Wednesday, the county executive and police commissioner launched a new website and app that confront the ugly realities of bullying. It is designed to link victims and their families with unprecedented access, telling them where to turn and what to do.
“Teen suicide is on the rise all across this nation,” Lafazan said. “We know that the minutes — not hours, not days — but it’s the minutes after somebody feels bullied that they need resources are key, and that’s what this website does.”
“When I was younger I definitely got bullied,” Jericho High School student Samantha Balko said. “It was really bad. I remember I would talk to my mom about it, cry about it.”
Shayna decided her bat mitzvah project would be to promote kindness and raise awareness about bullying. So far she has raised $5,000 and presented her check to the Long Island Coalition Against Bullying.
It is now law in Nassau County. Every public school must provide — and name — an anti-bullying counselor and coordinate with the county’s anti-bullying hotline, which is on alert 24-7.
The website was created with help of the Nassau police and health departments.