Recognizing and Dealing with Harassment: A Guide for Students

Including sexual harassment, bullying, cyberbullying, discrimination, and hazing

The Niskayuna Board of Education and administration care about you and are committed to providing students and staff with an educational environment that promotes respect, dignity and equality. This brochure provides a brief overview of the Board’s policies on harassment, designed to promote such an environment. These policies prohibit all forms of harassment on school grounds or at school-sponsored events, programs or activities, including those that take place at locations off school premises.

This policy has been updated in accordance with the Dignity for All Students Act, which says that it is wrong for students to be treated differently because of their actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity or expression), or sex. School principals are the Dignity for All Students Act Coordinators for their schools and in charge of working with everyone at school to create a safe and supportive environment.

In addition, the district has identified staff members in each building who can serve as a resource. They are listed on the back of this brochure.

Board policies prohibiting harassment are: No. 3420 – Non-discrimination and Anti-harassment in the School District; No. 7550 – Dignity for All Students; and No. 7551 – Sexual Harassment of Students.

If you would like a copy of the complete district policy on student harassment, contact Niskayuna’s Title VII/Title IX Officer (Director of Student and Staff Support Services Deborah Marriott) at (518) 377-4666, ext. 50740 or

What is harassment?

Harassment is behavior that creates a hostile environment, through threats, intimidation or abuse that interfere with a student’s education or well-being or cause a student to fear for his or her safety. It is against school rules for anyone to make students feel unsafe or threatened at school.
Harassment can consist of verbal, physical or written conduct. It can include such things as derogatory remarks, jokes, demeaning comments or behavior, slurs, name calling, innuendo, gestures, physical contact or threats, etc. It includes actions based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity or expression), sex or any other legally protected status.

Harassment comes in a variety of forms, each of which are prohibited by district policy and by law.

Bullying is a pattern of behavior that creates a hostile environment through threatening or intimidating acts, including treating others cruelly, terrorizing, coercing, habitual putdowns and/or badgering of others that causes harm or induces fear and the threat of further aggression.

Cyberbullying is harassment that takes place over the Internet, text messages, or other types of electronic communication, including social media.

Discrimination is the act of denying rights or fair treatment to an individual or group of people because of the group, class or category to which that person belongs.

Hazing involves acts directed against another for the induction or initiation in any school activity, including teams and clubs, that produces public humiliation, physical or emotional discomfort or injury and/or public ridicule.

Retaliation is when a person mistreats another because they reported or provided information about alleged harassment.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:  Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly in connection with a students’ ability to participate fully in their education;  Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for academic decisions affecting the individual; or Such conduct interferes with an individual’s academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or demeaning environment.

Sexual harassment also includes sexual violence, which refers to sexual acts that are against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent.

Sexual harassment can take many forms, including…

  • Unwanted sexual, abusive or lewd language or
    suggestive jokes, including sex-oriented comments on one’s appearance;
  • Direct or indirect threats or bribes for unwanted sexual activity, including insinuating that refusal may affect a student’s grades, references or participation in any other school activity;
  • Asking or commenting about a person’s sexual activity;
  • Displaying or distributing pornographic or any other sexual material;
  • Unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature, including assault, impeding movement, and/or touching (such as brushing, pinching, patting, etc.);
  • Leering, suggestive or insulting sounds or gestures;
  • The use of profanity or other obscenities that are sexually suggestive or degrading; and
  • Behavior that perpetuates sex-based stereotypes.

What can you do if you are being harassed?

It is important to address instances of harassment as quickly as possible. Do not pretend the problem will go away on its own. Remember, you can always talk to a teacher, counselor or administrator in the event you believe you have been the victim of harassment or bullying.
The important thing is to tell someone as soon as possible to prevent a situation from getting worse. A trusted adult at school will help you contact the appropriate person to stop the behavior.
The district has identified specific staff members in every school, including your school principal, who can serve as a resource for you on the topic of harassment. These individuals are listed on the back of this brochure. You should feel comfortable talking to them if you need to.
It is a violation of district policy for any person to retaliate, intimidate, harass or interfere with an employee or student who has filed a complaint regarding harassment or any individual who has assisted with an investigation.
It is also a violation of district policy to intentionally file a false complaint regarding harassment. Appropriate action will be taken against any person filing a false complaint.
The law and school policy require all reports of harassment and bullying to be investigated promptly. All reports of harassment will be confidential to the extent possible.