This is only a Preview!

You must Publish this diary to make this visible to the public,
or click 'Edit Diary' to make further changes first.

Posting a Diary Entry

Daily Kos welcomes blog articles from readers, known as diaries. The Intro section to a diary should be about three paragraphs long, and is required. The body section is optional, as is the poll, which can have 1 to 15 choices. Descriptive tags are also required to help others find your diary by subject; please don't use "cute" tags.

When you're ready, scroll down below the tags and click Save & Preview. You can edit your diary after it's published by clicking Edit Diary. Polls cannot be edited once they are published.

If this is your first time creating a Diary since the Ajax upgrade, before you enter any text below, please press Ctrl-F5 and then hold down the Shift Key and press your browser's Reload button to refresh its cache with the new script files.


  1. One diary daily maximum.
  2. Substantive diaries only. If you don't have at least three solid, original paragraphs, you should probably post a comment in an Open Thread.
  3. No repetitive diaries. Take a moment to ensure your topic hasn't been blogged (you can search for Stories and Diaries that already cover this topic), though fresh original analysis is always welcome.
  4. Use the "Body" textbox if your diary entry is longer than three paragraphs.
  5. Any images in your posts must be hosted by an approved image hosting service (one of: imageshack.us, photobucket.com, flickr.com, smugmug.com, allyoucanupload.com, picturetrail.com, mac.com, webshots.com, editgrid.com).
  6. Copying and pasting entire copyrighted works is prohibited. If you do quote something, keep it brief, always provide a link to the original source, and use the <blockquote> tags to clearly identify the quoted material. Violating this rule is grounds for immediate banning.
  7. Be civil. Do not "call out" other users by name in diary titles. Do not use profanity in diary titles. Don't write diaries whose main purpose is to deliberately inflame.
For the complete list of DailyKos diary guidelines, please click here.

Please begin with an informative title:

Yesterday, the mother of Rebecca Sedwick, the Lakeland, Florida teen who was driven to suicide by a yearlong campaign of bullying, announced that a new law has been introduced that would make bullying a crime.

During a news conference, Tricia Norman, along with her attorney and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, said that HB 451 and an accompanying bill in the Florida Senate have been filed. They would make it a first-degree misdemeanor to willfully, maliciously or repeatedly harass or cyberbully another person and a third-degree felony if there's a "credible threat" involved in the harassment.

Possible consequences for a misdemeanor violation could include counseling, community service and juvenile detention; punishment for the felony would be harsher.

No bullying law in currently on the books in Florida; some youths have been charged with aggravated stalking.

Norman said that if such a law had been in place in 2013, maybe her daughter wouldn't have committed suicide.

The companion Senate bill is SB 458.  Read the state house version here and the state senate version here.  The text of both bills is practically identical.  Both would make misdemeanor bullying a crime punishable by up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine.  Felony aggravated bullying would be punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, with the prospect of enhanced penalties for repeat offenders.  

Although bullying is illegal in Florida, this law would be the first to impose criminal penalties for it.  There's no provision as of yet to hold parents accountable for their kids' bullying.  Unless there's no way to do it that passes constitutional muster, the law needs to be amended to include one.  

Thus far, the only people who have been arrested for this were the two ringleaders, Guadalupe Shaw and Katelyn Roman, who were brought up on aggravated stalking charges back in October.  The charges were dropped after they agreed to counseling.  I have to agree with Norman--if they'd known out of the gate that they would face criminal penalties for this, they wouldn't have kept it up for this long.

Norman also announced she plans to sue Polk County Schools for failing to protect her daughter from the in-person bullying she endured on school grounds.  According to Norman, the bullying continued even when she complained to school administrators, and she was forced to transfer Rebecca to another school.  Several other parents say that bullying is rampant at that school.  She's also seriously considering whether to file wrongful death suits as well.  According to authorities, as many as 15 girls were involved, so methinks the parents of those girls ought to be very afraid.

Given the circumstances, these bills should probably pass with close to unanimous support.  Something like this shouldn't be partisan.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Extended (Optional)

Your Email has been sent.