Thursday, September 8, 2011

Florida has no anti bullying Criminal Laws!

In Florida there are civil laws under the education code that pertain to bullying.  I have talked quite a bit about those laws.  The Statute is 1006.7.  But they are civil in nature and do no incorporate any penal system or punishment code. As previously stated the law  mandates  school districts  how to procedurally deal with bullying.  The law also defines bullying, harassment and even discusses cyber bullying.  But let me make this clear, the law is NOT a criminal law.  Unlike Governor Christie who so bravely instituted anti bullying laws pertaining to schools, the Governor also instituted criminal anti bullying laws.  Florida has quasi harassment and stalking laws but they mainly pertain to domestic related situations or more adult situations.  Rarely do they pertain to children and state attorney's offices are reluctant to prosecute  harrasment/stalking cases involving juvenile perpetrators.
  They may prosecute a juvenile for assault and use the term bully.  But real world bullying cases are rare.  Many times the bullying attacks are in the school and if the physical attacks are at the school the bully is handled by the police resource officer.  It is common for police reports  not to be generated and even parents not to be notified.  Bullying can get lost in the shuffle like moving feet down a crowded stairwell. 

There are criminal laws like cyberstalking, which means, " to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.

The above cyberstalking is a misdemeanor but when the intended person is put in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury then it can become a felony.  There are many levels and the statute groups types of victims including those who are minors. But let's be clear there is no criminal law for cyberbullying. It is not against the law in Florida to cyber bully.  There are subcategories like if you physically assault someone, that is a crime, and you repeatedly assault then each time you batter the person it is a distinct and separate crime.  And because it is continuous and systematic on the same person it is bullying.  But the bullying itself is not a crime. So wouldn't it be easier to make bullying a crime?  Well the problem is, like a most crimes, especially with juveniles, no one wants to stand up for the person who was bullied.  Most kids and teachers like to bury their heads, like nothing has ever happened.  It is sad. 
It is sad because most of the bullying is happening as hate crimes.  It is happening to kids who can't fight back.  It is happening to kids who are disabled.  It is happening to kids who are discovering their sexual orientation.  It is happening to our most vulnerable child.  Criminal laws wont help unless we had a tough enforcer. Our state bullying laws aren't working because we don't have good enforcement. 
Truly the best enforcement we could ever ask for is the parent. The parent, is now, in today's world our child's only true source of advocacy of survival in a world full of bullies.


  1. I miss your old personal blog, but you're perpetually cool ;)


  2. I was curious myself about the penalties for Bullying and the failure to report bullying by teachers or school employees? In reading the statute I saw plenty of definitions and procedures but no civil, administrative, or criminal penalities. For example, Failure to Report Bullying by a teacher will result in Reprimand, suspension, dismisal, fine, or criminal sanctions.