Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Law Bolsters School Anti-Bullying Efforts; THE RULES the Duval School Board Spells out That Cyber Bullying and Cyber Stalking Violate Policy. NEW LAW It Requires the District to Probe Every Allegation of Bullying and Tell Victim and Accused's Parents

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Law Bolsters School Anti-Bullying Efforts; THE RULES the Duval School Board Spells out That Cyber Bullying and Cyber Stalking Violate Policy. NEW LAW It Requires the District to Probe Every Allegation of Bullying and Tell Victim and Accused's Parents

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY KELLI PALKA

There aren't bruises or black eyes, but cyber bullying can be just as traumatic to children as old-fashioned playground fights.

With a mandate from a new state law, school districts throughout Florida are making sure their anti-bullying rules are clear. On Monday, the Duval County School Board joined them, spelling out that cyber bullying and cyber stalking are a violation of the district's policy. School systems in Nassau and St. Johns counties are also updating their policies this month.

Duval's student code of conduct already prohibited any type of bullying, including that through electronic means, but the new state law requires the district to immediately investigate every allegation and notify parents of both the victim and the accused bully.

The state mandates these investigations to determine if the violation is in the district's jurisdiction -- but it may not always be.

Although much cyber bullying happens through popular social Web sites, such as Facebook or MySpace, for a district to take action it has to happen while on school grounds or with school computers, said Sonita Young, Duval County's executive director of policy and compliance.

The state law also gives districts jurisdiction over actions that happen on a school bus, during a district-sponsored or school-related event or activity or on a district's computer software. …

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