Osceola County

Osceola County sheriff & Miss Florida USA launch anti-bullying campaign after viral school incident

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Days after a video of a Liberty High School student being punched from behind in what was described as a bullying incident went viral, the Osceola County sheriff tried to bring an anti-bullying message to the kitchen table.

“It’s only going to get worse, and you really affect people’s lives until they’re adults,” Sheriff Marcos López said, asking parents to be more proactive.

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The incident, which was filmed in October, appears to show a 16-year old getting punched from behind and refusing to fight back in the school hallway as his alleged attackers, three other boys, attempted to provoke him.

An affidavit reports the same student was also assaulted inside the school bathroom and that the teen hesitated to report the incident, fearing retaliation.

Read: Town hall meeting at Carver Middle School tonight to address recent fights, shooting

After the video went viral, the school district reported that the attackers had been punished appropriately but legally couldn’t provide more details on the punishments. The sheriff’s office charged the three other boys with battery and referred the case to prosecutors shortly after the incident happened.

It is unclear why the video went viral two months later, nor is it known if the three other boys have returned to school. The 16-year old’s mother told a Spanish language local news outlet that she had withdrawn her son from Liberty.

Read: Shots fired in East River High School parking lot, district says; no injuries reported

On Tuesday, López and Miss Florida USA Ashley Carino, an Osceola County native, unveiled their new campaign.

“Getting the point across to students that they do not need to tolerate and become victims of crimes,” he said.

Read: More than a dozen students arrested for violence, threats in Central Florida schools Thursday

He advised parents that if they became aware that their child might be bullying others, they should act quickly and end that behavior.

“Children are a lot smarter at 11 or 12 years old than they were when I was a kid,” he explained. “Now, we’ve got to start approaching this at a different level.”

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