Bullying is a problem in schools all over America, but recently Florida took radical action against bullying to help victims.
In Florida, bullying is handled on a case-by-case basis, and a full investigation is performed on each incident that is reported. Unfortunately, schools often don’t take things far enough.
Guin, the mother of a 12-year old who was bullied on the bus in Florida, called and reported it to the school. Later she received an email stating “well, the little boy said it didn’t happen, so basically we can’t do anything.”
The issue appears to be one of definition. The dictionary defines bullying as “abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger or more powerful.” School psychologist Arwen Guida explains the school defines bullying as “any kind of unwanted, aggressive behavior that occurs repeatedly between a person and another person or group of people.” The Florida Department of Education defines bullying as “systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress.”
The disconnect in these definitions leaves a lot of cases of abuse unresolved.
Principal David Murphy claims kids mistreat each other all the time and “a student treating another student unfairly or in a bad way does not necessarily classify itself as bullying because of the ongoing nature of a bullying relationship.”
Unfortunately, attitudes like these keep the Florida bullying stats low, but those numbers could be way underestimated due to one-time and irregular occurrences.
Florida Bullying Facts
In 2017 Florida reported only 6,107 incidents of bullying equalling 3% nationwide. However, the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 31% of all students are bullied so Florida’s bullying statistics may be low due to how they classify bullying.
Palm Beach Florida – 1 in every 95 students say they have been bullied.
Duval County claims only 1 in 4,700 students have been bullied.
State-wide Florida reports only one student in a 1,000 is bullied.
600 schools in Florida say no bullying has occurred at all.
64% of all bullying victims never report it to the police.
LGBT bullying at schools is on the rise and victims are less likely to report it due to guilt and shame.
Recent Bullying Events in Florida
In March of this year, Florida’s Governor Rick Scott penned a new law providing all students who have been bullied the right to switch to a private school, regardless of income level. The law requires an investigation, and upon confirmation of bullying, the child is issued a voucher to switch schools. The bill named “The Hope Scholarship Program” covers any student who is a victim of harassment, violence, and bullying.
Following another school shooting in Florida, the suspect’s brother, Zachary Cruz started his own anti-bullying campaign. In a statement made to the press, Zachary admits to having bullied his brother and witnessed others buying him as well. He believes this was a significant factor which led to the incident that killed 17 people.
Back in February of this year, a 12-year old Florida girl committed suicide as a direct result of being cyberbullies by classmates. Following an investigation two of those classmates face charges.
Another 12-year old boy named Sam was physically attacked and his watch broken on the school bus. When his mother reported it to the school, they backed off saying the offender denied it and there was nothing they could do.
On a Positive Note
On a more positive note, students who are fed up with bullying have taken matters into their own hands. In Hillsborough County students have formed a group called Student to Student aimed at preventing bullying through awareness, support, and proactive activities.
If the administration cannot fix the problem then perhaps it is up the students to find a way to police themselves and bridge the gap between bullying and getting along.