Components of State Anti-Bullying Laws and Regulations
|District policy requirement||Yes|
|Reporting and investigations||Yes|
|Communication of policy||Yes|
|Safeguards and supports||Yes|
|Review and update of local policies||Yes|
Which Florida laws and regulations cover bullying?
- Florida Statutes Annotated §1002.40. The Hope Scholarship Program
- Florida Statutes Annotated §1003.4205. Disability history and awareness instruction
- Florida Statutes Annotated §1006.135. Hazing prohibited at schools with any of grades 6-12
- Florida Statutes Annotated §1006.147. Bullying and harassment prohibited
- Florida Administrative Code Annotated 6A-1.0017, F.A.C. School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting (SESIR)
- Florida Administrative Code Annotated 6A-19.008, F.A.C. Educational and Work Environment
How are bullying and cyberbullying defined in Florida anti-bullying laws and regulations?
Florida anti-bullying laws and regulations include the following definitions of bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment:
"Bullying" includes cyberbullying and means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students and may involve:
- Social exclusion;
- Physical violence;
- Sexual, religious, or racial harassment;
- Public or private humiliation; or
- Destruction of property.
"Cyberbullying" means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which includes, but is not limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic system, photoelectronic system, or photooptical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, Internet communications, instant messages, or facsimile communications. Cyberbullying includes the creation of a webpage or weblog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person, or the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying. Cyberbullying also includes the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.
"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:
- Places a student or school employee in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property;
- Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's educational performance, opportunities, or benefits; or
- Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of a school.
Fla. Stat. § 1006.147 (2019)
Do Florida anti-bullying laws and regulations cover cyberbullying that occurs off-campus?
Yes. Florida anti-bullying laws cover off-campus conduct if bullying substantially interferes with or limits the victim's ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by a school or substantially disrupts the education process or orderly operation of a school.
What are the policy requirements for schools to prevent and respond to bullying behavior?
Florida school districts must adopt a policy prohibiting bullying and harassment of a student or employee of a public K-12 institution. District policies must be in substantial conformity with the Department of Education's model policy and must contain key policy and procedural elements, including, but not limited to:
- Statements prohibiting bullying and harassment;
- Definitions of prohibited behavior;
- Descriptions of the type of behavior expected from students and employees;
- Disciplinary consequences for a student or employee who commits an act of bullying or harassment;
- Procedures for reporting and investigations;
- Procedures for parent notification and notification to all local agencies where criminal charges may be pursued;
- Procedures for referring victims and perpetrators for counseling and regularly reporting to a victim's parents any actions taken to protect the victim; and
- Statements of how the policy will be publicized within the district.
Florida state law requires districts to review the policy at least once every three years. Districts must also establish a procedure for including incidents of bullying and harassment in school safety and discipline reporting.
Do Florida anti-bullying laws and regulations include protections for specific groups?
No. There are no specific groups listed under Florida anti-bullying laws or regulations. The law states that the school district's bullying and harassment policy shall afford all students the same protection regardless of their status under the law. Districts may establish separate discrimination policies that include categories of students.
Florida schools that receive federal funding are required by federal law to address discrimination based on certain personal characteristics. Find out when bullying may be a civil rights violation.
Do Florida anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to implement bullying prevention programs or strategies?
Yes. Florida school district policies must include a list of programs authorized by the school district that provide instruction to students, parents, teachers, school administrators, counseling staff, and school volunteers on identifying, preventing, and responding to bullying or harassment, including instruction on recognizing behaviors that lead to bullying and harassment and taking appropriate preventive action based on those observations.
Do Florida anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to train teachers and other school staff on how to respond to bullying incidents?
Yes. Florida school districts policies must include a list of programs authorized by the school district that provide instruction to students, parents, teachers, school administrators, counseling staff, and school volunteers on identifying, preventing, and responding to bullying or harassment, including instruction on recognizing behaviors that lead to bullying and harassment and taking appropriate preventive action based on those observations.
Do Florida anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to provide safeguards or mental health supports for students involved with bullying?
Yes. Florida school district policies must include a procedure to refer victims and perpetrators of bullying or harassment for counseling and a procedure for regularly reporting to a victim's parents the actions taken to protect the victim.
Do Florida anti-bullying laws and regulations involve parents in efforts to address bullying behavior?
Yes. Florida school districts must involve students, parents, teachers, administrators, school staff, school volunteers, community representatives, and local law enforcement agencies in the process of adopting and reviewing the policy.
Florida school district policies must include a procedure for providing immediate notification to the parents of a victim of bullying or harassment and the parents of the perpetrator of an act of bullying or harassment, as well as notification to all local agencies where criminal charges may be pursued against the perpetrator.
For More Information
Visit the Florida Department of Education's "Bullying Prevention" webpage and/or view the Florida state model policy on bullying and harassment.
The key component framework used in the analysis of state laws is based on the review of legislation presented in the "Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies – December 2011" (U.S. Department of Education).