Fla. lawmakers crackdown on cyberbullying

Published On: Jul 10 2013 04:16:30 PM EDT
School Classroom

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

One in four students in America is bullied on a regular basis, and a new state law will allow schools to crack down on cyberbullying. They will now have to prove disruption in a classroom.

Statistically, nearly one of every four teenagers in a classroom has been bullied.

"Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, 'Today is the day I'm going to be bullied and picked on,'" said Dalton Settlemire.

Rising Junior, Settlemire said he's seen it all. Everything from bullying in the halls at, to his classmates being bullied online.

"I've probably seen types of bullying that doesn't even have names yet," Settlemire said. "It really is unfortunate."

"It's a lot easier for kids to sit behind a computer screen and be more confident or harsher to their peers than they would be face to face," said Wyatt Navarro.

Florida lawmakers just expanded a 2008 anti-bullying law to include cyberbullying and it includes some activities that take place off of school grounds.

"It looks at a student's actions, words and context they may be communicating digitally outside of school," said Erin Watson of the Florida Law Related Education Association.

Many worry the change invades a student's privacy. Both sides are worried how the law will be enforced.

"Can we dictate what students do outside of school as well as what they do in school? Or do students leave rights at school house gates or does it go further than that?" asked Watson.

The only way the school can discipline a student is if there is proof someone is threatening another student and it's a disruption at school.

"I think whatever kind of punishment is deemed necessary is necessary in that situation," said Settlemire.

Regardless, supporters said this is a step forward into protecting Florida's teens from online bullies.

The law went into effect on July 1.

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