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BILL ANALYSIS AND FISCAL IMPACT STATEMENT for BILL: SB 548

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The Florida Senate
BILL ANALYSIS AND FISCAL IMPACT STATEMENT
(This document is based on the provisions contained in the legislation as of the latest date listed below.)
Prepared By: The Professional Staff of the Committee on Criminal Justice

BILL: SB 548
INTRODUCER: Senator Simmons
SUBJECT: Bullying
DATE: February 4, 2014

ANALYST STAFF DIRECTOR REFERENCE ACTION
1. Dugger Cannon CJ Pre-meeting
2. ACJ
3. AP

I. Summary:
SB 548 creates a criminal statute penalizing bullying and aggravated bullying. The newly created
statute provides a first degree misdemeanor penalty1
for bullying and a third degree felony
penalty2
for aggravated bullying. Cyberbullying is included in each new crime. The elements of
these two new offenses and the definitions provided in the bill are the same as the elements and
definitions in the stalking statute (found to be constitutional by the Florida Supreme Court in
1995).
II. Present Situation:

Florida law requires each district school board to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying and
harassment in district schools.3
Violation of these policies can result in school disciplinary
actions being taken. Among other things, the law prohibits the bullying or harassment of any
public K-12 student or employee during a public K-12 education program or activity; during a
school-related or school-sponsored program or activity; on a public K-12 school bus; through a
computer, computer system, or computer network that is within the scope of a public K-12

 

 

The law defines “bullying” as systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or
psychological distress on one or more students, which may involve teasing; social exclusion;
threat; intimidation; stalking; physical violence; theft; sexual, religious, or racial harassment;
public humiliation; or destruction of property. It includes “cyberbullying” and defines it as
bullying through the use of specified technology or electronic communications; the creation of a
webpage or weblog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or the knowing
impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages; or the distribution
by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an
electronic medium that is accessible to others.5
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