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I just posted a news article about a Florida bullying incident that occurred in a West Palm Beach middle school.

School bullying occurs when a person or group repeatedly tries to harm a student who is weaker or more vulnerable in some way. Students who are disabled, gay or otherwise perceived as “different” are often the targets of school bullying.

Bullying can be physical and involve hitting, intimidating or other violent behavior that can cause serious personal injury. Physical bullying may also include the stealing or damaging of a student’s personal belongings. In other cases, bullying is verbal and may include teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual remarks, threats or the spreading of rumors about a student either verbally or on-line in forums such as Facebook.

Nearly 30 percent of American teenagers (or over 5.7 million) are involved in school bullying either as a target of teen bullying or as a bully.

A national survey of students in grades 6 to 10 found the following:

  • 13 percent of teens reported bullying others at school.
  • 11 percent of teens reported being the target of school bullies.
  • 6 percent of teens said they both bullied others and were bullied themselves.

Florida has one of the strongest anti-bullying laws in the nation. In 2008, the state of Florida passed the Jeffrey Johnston Stand up for All Students Act. The Act was named after a Cape Coral student who committed suicide in 2005 after being the victim of school bullying.

This law requires local school districts to adopt policies to prohibit bullying and harassment of any student or employee in a public K-12 school. However, despite the law, there were 6,134 incidents of bullying reported in Florida schools during the 2009-2010 school year.

Young teens are already insecure. Teen bullying can cause victims to feel depressed, tense, anxious, and afraid. Bullying may affect school performance, grades and extra-curricular activities. A child who is bullied may avoid school and social interaction. In several cases, victims of school bullying have committed suicide.

The effect of bullying can last into adulthood. Researchers have found that adults who were bullied as teens have higher levels of depression and poorer self-esteem than adults who did not experience bullying.

Every child should be safe at school. If your child is the victim of West Palm Beach school bullying, you have legal rights.

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