Hillsborough law enforcement tackles bullying at school and onli - WFLA News Channel 8

Hillsborough law enforcement tackles bullying at school and online

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

One of the biggest issues for law enforcement patrolling local schools, can be harder than ever to spot these days.

Related Content: Battle against Bullying: Cyberbullying facts and stats

Now that school bullies have migrated to online websites and messaging programs, cracking down on the problem takes online monitoring, close attention – and some help.

"It's gotta be something that one of the parties comes up to us and says, ‘Hey, this is going on,'" said school resource deputy Dan Serrano, who works at Pierce Middle School in Hillsborough County. "It's not always obvious to us."

Serrano said deputies rely on a good relationship with students, who will come to them or their teachers when someone is bullying someone else online.

Law enforcement does monitor social media, and investigates every allegation, said Corp. Jason Napoli of the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office.

"You try and educate these kids, you try and educate them on the consequences, what bullying is – you define it, the consequences, and that there are repercussions," Napoli said. "That if you choose to  engage in that type of behavior, there are consequences."

At Pierce Middle School, where Serrano works, students found to be bullying are given a written warning that includes a definition for bullying.

"I make them read it aloud so there's no excuse," Serrano said.

Students involved in bullying at that school can also end up in mediation sessions, which Serrano says can resolve issues and even mend friendships.

"A couple weeks ago, we had two young ladies that one of them was being bullied by the other, and they left hugging and crying," he said. "So that mediation does work."

Related Content: Bullying Resources and Experts

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