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Mother of Bullying Victim Who Committed Suicide to Pursue Federal, State Legislation

November 25, 2013 | WMFE - The mother of a 12-year-old Lakeland girl who committed suicide in September says she'll pursue federal and state legislation making bullying a crime. Tricia Norman also announced Monday she'll file a wrongful death civil suit against those she feels are responsible for the death of her daughter, Rebecca Sedwick.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2013 would be the first-ever federal anti-bullying law. It would require schools receiving government funding to have an anti-bullying policy.

The state bill would be called Rebecca's Law.

"To be honest I am very angry with the individuals I believe are responsible for my daughter's death. I know having anger in my heart is not good, but I am not perfect. I keep waiting for an apology I now know will never come. This lack of personal responsibility is beyond upsetting."

Norman is represented by Morgan & Morgan, the same firm where gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is an attorney. Crist is part of her legal team.

Attorney Matt Morgan says current state law prohibits bullying but offers no punishment. Rebecca's Law would change that.

"If Tommy is bullying Billy for example, Tommy is immediately taken out of the classroom and taken to the principal's office. And it's reported to the state, at which point he's put into counseling. If he does it again there is a higher penalty. If he does it again there could be a juvenile detention for him."

Rebecca jumped to her death from a concrete silo tower. Two girls, ages 12 and 14, were charged with aggravated stalking. Authorities said their bullying contributed to Rebecca's death.

The charges were dropped last week.   

 

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