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What is bullying, and are there bullying laws in Florida?

Bullying is an issue in all schools, and it's hard to imagine a time when children won't have to face some kind of bullying in their lives. There comes a time when bullying goes too far, though, and that can be a major problem for parents and their children. As a parent, you want to know that the school is going to prevent and stop bullying whenever possible. If it doesn't, your child could get hurt, and that could mean filing a lawsuit.

October was National Bullying Prevention Month, and as such, schools in Florida have recently been reeducated on bullying and how it affects students and families. Florida Statute 1006.147 now requires schools to have an official bullying policy; the policy must ban harassment of both staff members and students on school grounds, at local school events and online.

Bullying is loosely defined, which helps educators and districts enforce the rules. Essentially, bullying is any systematic or chronic pain caused by physical or emotional distress. If the bullying is severe enough to make the environment hostile or intimidating, that's enough to draw attention to the problem.

All schools in Florida should be trained to recognize bullying when it takes place. The personnel in the school should be able to educate students and staff members about bullying policies, and anti-bullying curriculum should be encouraged and included in classrooms for role-play and discussion. Developing a tolerant, respectful and accepting school environment is the goal, according to the Florida Department of Education, so it's up to educators and the school districts to make that happen.

Source: Florida Department of Education, "Bullying Prevention," accessed Nov. 05, 2015

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