Cyberbullying Bill Passes Senate Committee Without a Fight

By: Eric Giunta | Posted: April 15, 2013 3:59 PM
Dwight Bullard

Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay

A bill that greatly expands the authority of public K-12 schools for cyberbullying activities received unanimous approval -- without discussion or debate -- in the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, less than two weeks after a similar bill passed the full House, also by unanimous vote.

SB 626, sponsored by Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, and titled the “Imagine Sheterria Elliot Act" (after an albino girl whose mother has become an anti-bullying activist), now makes its way to the Senate Rules Committee.

Under current Florida law, a school may discipline a student for cyberbullying if the student uses a computer, computer system, or computer network owned by a school; Bullard's bill expands prohibitions to cover the use of any computer located on school grounds, a school bus, or at the site of a school-sponsored activity.

The bill further specifies that cyberbullying is prohibited when it is “reasonably foreseeable” that it might significantly interfere with school activities or threaten a student's safety and security. The measure also expands the definition of bullying to include conduct that involves “emotional pain or discomfort.”

A similar bill, HB 609 (“Bullying in the Public School System”) passed the full House on April 4.

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at (954) 235-9116.

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