Students: More needs done to prevent online bullying

Lawmakers question effectiveness of bullying law


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Students say more needs to be done to prevent online bullying. A new Florida law aimed at protecting students has lawmakers questioning ways to make it more effective.

"If you're getting bullied, you should say something to somebody," one student said.

Students say bullying at school is all too common, but alerting school administrators is not nearly as popular.

"You want to do something about it, but then you don't want to interfere, because it may come on you too," another student said.

This past legislative session state lawmakers passed a law prohibiting online bullying. It bans any type of online bullying that interferes with a student's learning environment.

"At the end of the day, it's a tool in the toolbox to help deal with what we know is an alarming issue," said Sen. Dwight Bullard.

In a meeting Tuesday morning, the same lawmakers who helped pass the bill questioned how effective it's been.

"What do we have in the law today that will enable or empower our schools?" said Sen. Maria Sachs.

A major concern lawmakers want answers to is: What legal authorities does a district have in gaining access to a cell phone or computer to access students' social networking sites?

School districts across the state have been required to implement their own rules against online bullying, but school officials say the main thing is to keep students safe.

"To do this, it takes a combined effort of everyone," said Sen. Bill Montford. "That's the teachers in the schools and the students and parents as well."

The law passed this year is an extension of the Jeffrey Johnson Act which required all districts to adopt a policy banning bullying and harassment.

It's estimated that 28 percent of students are bullied at school.