Helen Browning, of Land O’ Lakes, Fla., has made a made difference in the lives of students she has come in contact with throughout her 25 year career as a guidance counselor. Although Browning has dealt with bullying issues throughout her career, she feels it is more prevalent than ever before in her recollection. Browning emphasized, “Bullying is an issue that is being dealt with both at a local and national level.” When an issue is brought to her attention, she deals with it immediately and she is empathetic to the situation at hand. Browning stated, “I express to students that they are not just a student identification number but a person. The students I interact with know I genuinely care and will do whatever I can to protect them, provide the necessary resources for them to feel safe and get assistance.” Often times, Browning is able to provide direction and support to students herself. “Sadly, the repercussions of bullying takes up a majority of a counselors time,” Browning said.
Throughout the state of Fla., bullying is on the rise and because of that, Florida lawmakers approved HB 609. The use of technology and social media is not making it easier to deal with bullying. In fact, Browning stated, “It is making it more difficult because students feel they have a right to express whatever they feel about their peers 24/7.”
Browning further indicated that, “There had been a recent tragedy caused by bullying in Lakeland, Fla.” This has resulted in the law firm of Morgan & Morgan “drafting legislation called ‘Rebecca’s Law’ to provide for criminal penalties for bullying, which he said do not exist under current law.”
Furthermore, Morgan said, “Our message to parents is simple and it’s clear. Monitor your child’s behavior if you believe they are bullying another. You must take the steps necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future. It has to stop immediately. Because if it doesn’t you might find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit with your personal assets in jeopardy.”
Browning expressed “I am relieved that further action is being taken by our state legislators in regards to constituents concerns in regards to bullying.” It is unfortunate that students are utilizing technology and social media to express how they feel about one another in a negative way.
Browning knows it is imperative that she remains aware of what is occurring in cyber space. Browning often checks Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see if students are posting anything inappropriate. “Students need to be aware that once they press the send button, those words cannot be retracted and or erased,” Browning expressed.