The Tampa Division is pleased to honor Ms. Rose Ferlita for her work in starting Bully Busters, a comprehensive nationwide anti-bullying program in Hillsborough County. Her work started after an alleged sexual assault at a local middle school, in which the victim shared that he had endured months of bullying prior to the attack.
Through Ms. Ferlita’s efforts, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay partnered to organize Bully Busters. To help implement the initiative, Ms. Ferlita created an anti-bullying advisory committee comprised of 13 voting members, including parents, caretakers, and participants from relevant agencies and children’s youth groups, to develop an approach to eliminate bullying. The committee serves as a vital resource to the County Commission in public policy development and evolution of bullying prevention. The group also has a youth subcommittee that assists young people in speaking out against bullying and violence.
Bully Busters’ efforts focus on public and community awareness and support. Parents and students can call or text the local sheriff’s office to report bullying behavior. In 2011, the program was honored by the National Association of Counties for effective and innovative county government initiatives.
The initiative is not Ms. Ferlita’s first foray into the world of public service—she has more than 20 years of experience serving on boards, commissions, councils, and task forces.