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Addressing Bullying

May 4, 2022 by in Blog

In recent years, states and school districts have passed numerous laws and adopted policies prohibiting or regulating bullying in schools. No child deserves to be bullied. Florida parents should understand their rights when addressing children being bullied at school.

What Constitutes Bullying in Florida?

Bullying is strictly prohibited under Section 1006.147 of the Florida Statutes (also known as the “Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act”) in any public K-12 institution. Further, bullying is prohibited during any school-sponsored program or field trip and on publicly operated school buses.

Section 1006.147 states that the act of bullying means “systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students.” Acts of bullying include:

  • Teasing.
  • Social exclusion.
  • Threat.
  • Intimidation.
  • Stalking.
  • Physical violence.
  • Theft.
  • Sexual, religious, or racial harassment.
  • Public or private humiliation; or
  • Destruction of property.

Does Cyberbullying Count as Bullying?

Yes. Cyberbullying can include using technology to bully someone directly or distributing material used to bully someone. Means of transmission of material used for bullying purposes can consist of:

  • Email.
  • Internet communications.
  • Instant messages.
  • Facsimile messages.

How Schools Address Bullying

The Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act states that public K-12 institutions must implement a district-wide policy to address bullying amongst students. The procedure must include a definition of what constitutes bullying, consequences for students that violate the policy, processes to investigate allegations of bullying, and a notification process to inform parents of when their child is being bullied. Further, school districts must provide students, parents, educators, and administrators with a list of available programs and resources on identifying and addressing bullying at school. 

Actions Parents Can Take When Their Child Experiences Bullying

No parent ever wants to hear that their child has been bullied. Schools should be safe for children to learn and grow, but they can also be a place for children to utilize critical services for essential development and care. If a parent believes their child has been bullied, they can follow the steps below for guidance.

Ask the Child About Their Experience

Parents should provide their children with a free and safe space to discuss issues openly without judgment or stress. Asking a child to talk about their bullying experiences can help determine whether it is appropriate to take further steps. Parents should always encourage their children to keep lines of communication open.  

Reach Out to Educators

Parents should always talk to their child’s educator about bullying and their child’s well-being frequently. If parents have  concerns that are not being addressed at the classroom level, they should be escalated to administration.

Speak with an Attorney

If a parent believes they have exhausted their options, parents should consider seeking legal action. By consulting a special education and school law attorney, parents can determine whether they may have an actionable claim. Contact our office or send us a message regarding your situation. 

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