ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Since the implementation of the Jeffrey Johnston "Stand up for All Students" Act, which was passed in 2008, all schools in the state are required to have anti-bullying policies in place.
The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine is just one district working to eliminate bullying. Students from elementary through high school are learning about the importance of being respectful, responsible and cooperative.
"She was teasing me like 'I didn't know the words, I didn't know the English language," said student Julia Kadzis.
"In my last school, I had no friends. No one would talk to me really," explains freshman Gracie Delong.
"I've had lots of experiences with bullying here and in the world, and I've tolerated it," said senior D.J. Snell.
Students at FSDB recall their own personal experiences with bullying.
"They kept bullying me because I'm a deaf person," Snell said.
"No one would talk to me really, no one would sit next to me at the lunch table," said Delong. "And the same group of girls would bully me because they didn't think I could see certain things."
But now, they're taking a stand to make sure students, young and old, understand what bullying is so they can prevent it.
"Some people get the misconception that bullying is something physical," said student Chance Jackson. "But there's cyber bullying, like being bullied through text messages, Facebook and Twitter, and even isolation, not letting someone be around you for no reason."
Florida law defines bullying as "systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students," and these students say it's all about positive behavior, taking a stand and learning what to do at a young age.
"The younger you get to someone, the better they'll have the knowledge and the less likely it'll be," said student Isaac Thomas.
"Don't just let it happen. Don't ignore it. Do something about it," said Delong.
Since it began implementing a new anti-bullying program, FSDB says its behavioral incidents have dropped 43 percent on campus.
Dr. Michele Borba will be speaking about bullying prevention on Saturday at St. Johns County's Community Empowerment Series. For more information on that workshop, click here:
For more resources from the Florida Department of Education, including signs that a child is being bullied and tips on how to respond to bullying, click here:
First Coast News