In a tragic case of middle school bullying, a seventh grade boy was intimidated and assaulted by a larger sixth grade boy off the grounds of their school, Sleepy Hill Middle School, in Lakeland, Florida. To make matters worse, the sixth grade boy continued to stalk and bully the assault victim after the incident. Fortunately, Judge James Yancey of Polk County thought enough was enough, and issued a restraining order requiring the sixth grader to stay at least 50 feet away from his accuser for one year.
Six Grade Assaulted and Continued to Bully A Fellow Student
According to the police report, a nearly six foot, 210 pound sixth grader wanted a 5 foot 7 inch, 120 pound seventh grader to give him the popcorn the seventh grader was selling for a fundraiser. When the seventh grader refused to comply, the sixth grader picked up the seventh grader by his shoulders, threw him to the pavement, and repeatedly punched him in the head. The seventh grader suffered a severe concussion, as well as lingering neurological issues and post traumatic stress disorder. Though both boys attended Sleepy Hill Middle School, the school opted not to intervene because the assault happened just off the school grounds. Soon thereafter, the sixth grade student returned to stalking and bullying the seventh grader. After the judge issued the restraining order, the school district transferred the aggressor to another school.
Florida Anti-Bullying and Harassment Laws
Florida does have anti-bullying and harassment laws, and harassment does include physical conduct directed against a student. Florida also has laws covering off-campus conduct if the bullying substantially interferes with or limits the victim's ability to take part in school offerings or disrupts the education process or orderly conduct of the school. Therefore, it is unclear why the school didn't intervene after the original assault.
Middle School Bullying Still Prevalent
Middle school bullying is unfortunately quite prevalent, even though a spotlight has been put on the issue in recent years. According to a recent survey, over 32 percent of middle schools student experienced bullying in the form of shoving or pushing, and over 27 percent experienced threatening behavior. However, only 20 to 30 percent of students bullied notify adults. Instead of reporting it, many keep the problem to themselves, and that can manifest itself in many detrimental ways.
If you feel your child may be bullied at school, take action. Listen to your child, and if you have reason to believe there is a bullying issue, make a complaint to the school, and ask to speak to a school counselor about the matter. Bring in any detailed information you may be able to gather from your child about the incident, and brush up on the school's code of conduct prior to meeting with school officials. You may also want to take this matter further by speaking with an education attorney. Lawyers specializing in this form of behavior are adept at speaking with school and district officials, as well as opposing attorneys and judges, in order to get the protection every child deserves to enjoy.