Putting Education Reform To The Test

New Technology Making It Harder For Florida Schools To Track Bullying

A new Florida law asks schools to crack down on online bullying.


A new Florida law asks schools to crack down on online bullying.

Florida schools are running into a handful of problems as they try to carry out the state’s new law targeting online or electronic bullying, according to testimony at a Senate committee meeting today.

Florida lawmakers approved HB 609 in May. The bill defines online, or cyber, bullying, and allows school districts to investigate if off-campus online bullying affects a student’s school work and life.

Sam Foerster, a deputy chancellor with the Florida Department of Education, said school districts have learned its hard to keep up with kids these days, technologically.

“The ever-evolving landscape of social media presents some challenges,” Foerster told lawmakers. “By the time a specific type of social media has become well understood by the grown ups in the building, very often it has lost favor with the young people.”

Instead of texting — which can leave a trail of messages — some students have switched to Snapchat. That app allows students to send photos and messages which delete (maybe?) themselves after a few seconds.

And instead of posting things on a Facebook account which features a name and photos, students might post things anonymously using ask.fm, Foerster said.

Foerster also said that school districts have run into a problems in how to store information related to bullying investigations. Many districts are too big to host all the investigations on one machine, Foerster said, but storing that data on more than one computer could become a security problem.

The hearing was a chance for lawmakers to follow-up with schools about the new law and to ask questions of school and law enforcement officials. The Senate is holding committee meetings in preparation for next year’s legislative session.


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