Putting Education Reform To The Test


What "Bullying" Means in Florida Schools


Courtesy of Sheri Leitch

Shayne Ijames, 13, committed suicide in Port St. Lucie on May 2, 2012. The family suspects he was bullied after a text message came in on his phone that said, "happy funeral."

In Florida, “bullying” means: systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students.

It may involve:

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

In 2008, the Florida Department of Education required each school district to create a policy prohibiting bulling. Each school district creates its own policy based on the FDOE guide. 

Section 1006.147 of the Florida Statutes says bullying or harassment of any student or employee of a public K-12 educational institution is prohibited:

(a) During any education program or activity conducted by a public K-12 educational institution;

(b) During any school-related or school-sponsored program or activity or on a school bus of a public K-12 educational institution; or

(c) Through the use of data or computer software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, or computer network of a public K-12 educational institution.

“Harassment” means any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, use of data or computer software, or written, verbal, or physical conduct directed against a student or school employee that:

  1. Places a student or school employee in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property
  2. Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities, or benefits
  3. Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of a school.

Latest Posts

New Technology Making It Harder For Florida Schools To Track 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 […]

Read Florida’s New Law Targeting Online Bullying

Last week Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill targeting bullying, HB 609, into law. The law makes three big changes: Students can be bullied publicly or privately; defines cyberbullying as harassment using electronic means, such as email or impersonating someone online; and allows schools to get involved if off-campus bullying affects the targeted student’s on-campus […]

The Problems With Florida School Data

Wednesday the Florida Department of Education unveiled statewide teacher evaluation data, part of a new law that overhauls how teacher performance is measured in Florida. The agency held a press conference by phone to discuss the accomplishment. And then the data quietly disappeared that afternoon. The agency later admitted that Hillsborough County school officials had […]

Education Secretary Wears Purple to Support Speaking Out Against Bullying

  Arne Duncan U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan posted this picture on Facebook today in honor of Spirit Day, when Americans wear purple to support speaking out against bullying and to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. Duncan wrote: I’m wearing my purple tie to support our LGBT youth on […]

Lawsuit Says Palm Beach County Bus Driver Didn’t Stop Bullying

A student who tried to stop a classmate from being bullied and was then attacked himself is suing Palm Beach County schools because a bus driver did not follow the county’s anti-bullying policy, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Palm Beach County schools have one of the state’s highest rates of bullying, according to state […]

Are There More Bullies in Palm Beach County Schools — Or Just More Honesty?

Three of every ten bullying incidents reported in Florida last year happened in Palm Beach County schools, according to state data. That’s been the case since Florida approved a law in 2008 requiring school districts to report bullying and follow-up with parents — or face penalties. Palm Beach County schools reported one incident of bullying […]

How Bullying (Temporarily) Disappeared From Alachua County Schools

In 2009 Alachua County schools reported 182 cases of bullying. In 2008 the number was 101. But bullying disappeared from Alachua County schools in 2010-2011, according to state data. Except that it didn’t. Instead, 143 bullying incidents were not reported to the state because of a glitch with the school district’s new computer system, said […]

Feedback Loop: Sounding Off About Bullies

This week’s story about a pair of brothers who felt bullied in their schools sounded familiar to a few StateImpact Florida readers. Parents said they had pulled their children from school because of a threat or fear of bullying. Adults said the story took them right back to school hallways where they were treated similarly […]

How A Florida School Told Sixth Graders About A Classmate’s Suicide

When a sixth grader at Southport Middle School hung himself at his Port St. Lucie home, his school made the announcement to some students the next morning. A crisis intervention team went to every class 13-year-old Shayne Ijames attended to tell sixth graders their classmate had committed suicide. His mom, Sheri Leitch, is outraged. “They […]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »