Bullying and Harassment of the Disabled – Disability Rights

By | June 18, 2014

Cases of school bullying in American schools are an all-time high, as cyber bullying becomes one of the most destructive forms of bullying in our schools. This new form of bullying allows bullies to target vulnerable kids anywhere and at any time. Monitoring cyber bullying is difficult for both parents and teachers and this is why bullies prefer using it to other forms of bullying. Jeffrey Johnston was one such victim of cyber bullying, bullies would call him fat on social media and in person. He committed suicide in 2005 because he could not take the insults anymore. Johnston was only fifteen years old at the time.

Targeted Kids

Jeffrey Johnston is a constant reminder that bullies target kids with certain physical traits e.g. being obese. Children with disabilities also face the same kind of stigma from their fellow students. Students taunt them, ridicule them and at times, physically abuse them. Florida has taken steps to protect the rights of disabled children as bullies can easily target them. The Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act, in memory of Jeffrey Johnston, is the most significant step taken by the State of Florida to protect these rights. The Act requires the adoption of a bully prohibition policy by each public K-12 educational institution.

Definitions within the Act

This Act limits itself to protecting children against harassment and bullying by their fellow students and this is why defining bullying and harassment is so important. These definitions help us understand who is on the wrong side of the law and what the law can do for the aggrieved party. The Act defines bullying as the systematic infliction of harm on a student either physically or psychology through teasing, social exclusion, threat, intimidation, stalking, physical violence, theft, public humiliation or destruction of property. It then defines harassment as insulting or threatening a person using words, gestures computer software or physical conduct.

Provisions of the Act

The Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act has far-reaching consequences for schools if bullying persists among their students. For example, schools can lose their funding if they do not adopt an effective prohibition policy on school bullying. This policy should prohibit bullying during educational programs conducted by public K-12 academic institutions as well as during educational programs sponsored by the same institutions. It also prohibits harassment of students or employees using computer software or data.

If a school in the state of Florida is not holding up their end of the deal, you are eligible for legal action to be taken against the school.  More and more personal injury attorneys are seeing bullying cases in their offices.  In order to make sure that the Act is followed and bullying is stopped, schools and officials need to be held accountable.  You should seek legal action if the school your child attends fails to implement these simple provisions of the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act.