Legislation Makes Bullying a Crime

Legislation to make bullying a crime was approved by a Senate Committee Wednesday. Under the proposal, a first conviction would likely draw counseling from a judge. But, a second bullying conviction could send someone to jail for a year.

Rebecca Sedwick jumped to her death last September after being severely bullied. Two teens were charged with aggravated stalking... but the charges were later dropped.

Now legislation moving at the state Capitol, likely to be named for Rebecca, will close the loophole that let those accused of bullying off, making it a misdemeanor to bully someone.

Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, "People need to know that there are boundaries and right now, there are a group of people who simply don't believe that they have any boundaries, particularly on the internet."

School districts find themselves in an awkward position. A lawsuit could be threatened against Rebecca's school and the districts told lawmakers they are already being sued if they act and sued if they don't.

Robert Harris represents the Panhandle Educational Consortium. "People who've said, you didn't do enough to help my child in your school and I'm suing you. And we have cases over here where you have went too far and I'm suing you."

Senators promised to work on the lawsuit problem, "Yes, thank you Senator Simmons for bringing..." but kept the bill moving. “Although they're not following them around like stalking, but they are so abusive to another person that we need to say enough is enough."

Someone convicted a first time could get 60 days and a small fine, but they are likely to get probation and mandatory counseling.

Not so on a second offense, the second time could bring up to a year in jail and a thousand dollar fine. The Senate bill has one more committee stop: Appropriations, but staff analysis already suggests that it will have little fiscal impact on the state budget


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