When does bullying become a crime? - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

When does bullying become a crime?

Posted: Updated:
POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

On Monday, a 12-year-old girl was buried, her family says she was a victim of bullying.

The Polk County sheriff's office is investigating to see if any charges will be filed in her death.

Rebecca Ann Sedwick will never know what it's like to go to high school, to have a driver's license, or even what it's like to be a teenager.

Polk County deputies say last week, the 12-year-old went to an abandoned cement plant and leapt to her death.

Her family says, over the past year, she was a victim of relentless bullying.  She received online messages like, "nobody cares about you" and "you seriously deserve to die."

Attorney Robin Allweiss said, "Parents don't know what to do when their kids are bullied. And so because of that, bad outcomes can happen."

She said, "We have kids who are dying, and that's the biggest thing, we have to stop this."

Robin Allweiss is a former state prosecutor.  She also represented the family of Zachery Gray, a Pasco teenager who tried to commit suicide after being bullied.  He's now paralyzed.

Allweiss says for a case to be considered 'bullying', it must be prolonged.

She said, "Bullying is not one incident. It is a period time, it could be a period of time of a week, but it has to be ongoing and continuous."

She says the bullying must cause physical or psychological harm to the victim, and the bullies could face various charges from battery to stalking to harassment.

It's all up to the state attorney's office to decide.

Allweiss says Florida has civil laws that say schools must have anti-bullying policies and investigate claims. But she says the schools have no legal accountability.

She said, "There are no consequences really if the school does not follow the law."

Allweiss feels more can be done. She thinks the state should criminalize bullying, which would make punishments more direct and discourage any future bullies.

For now, she advises parents to make sure they know whether their kids are bullied at school.

Allweiss says parents should make sure any attacks or cases of bullying are reported to authorities.

 

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Mortgage nightmare for Plant City couple

    Mortgage nightmare for Plant City couple

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-16 03:44:22 GMT
    Karl and Vicktoria Hanson thought their foreclosure nightmare was long over. It may be just beginning.
    Karl and Vicktoria Hanson thought their foreclosure nightmare was long over. It may be just beginning.
  • Bradenton massage therapist banned from contact with women by state

    Bradenton massage therapist banned from contact with women by state

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 5:03 PM EDT2014-04-15 21:03:21 GMT
    The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.
    The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.The order says Holmes "unrestricted practice as a massage therapist with female clients constitutes an immediate serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the public
    The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.The order says Holmes "unrestricted practice as a massage therapist with female clients constitutes an immediate serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the public
  • State takes emergency action against Bradenton massage therapist after 8 On Your Side investigation

    State takes emergency action against Bradenton massage therapist after 8 On Your Side investigation

    Monday, April 14 2014 7:09 PM EDT2014-04-14 23:09:06 GMT
    Kevin Holmes, massage therapistKevin Holmes, massage therapist
    According topolice records Kevin Holmes, age 60, toldinvestigators the client he gave a therapeutic massage to last month"was an attractive girl, plain and simple."It turns out she was also an off-duty detective, and Holmes said what he did to her was "absolutely inapproriate."
    According topolice records Kevin Holmes, age 60, toldinvestigators the client he gave a therapeutic massage to last month"was an attractive girl, plain and simple."It turns out she was also an off-duty detective, and Holmes said what he did to her was "absolutely inapproriate."
  • NewsMore>>

  • Lightning's Lindback to start Game 1 vs. Canadiens

    Lightning's Lindback to start Game 1 vs. Canadiens

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 3:54 AM EDT2014-04-16 07:54:49 GMT
    Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper grudgingly gave up the news.Injured goaltender Ben Bishop will not play in Game 1 of the team's Eastern Conference playoff series against Montreal.
    Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper grudgingly gave up the news.Injured goaltender Ben Bishop will not play in Game 1 of the team's Eastern Conference playoff series against Montreal.
  • South Korea says 293 missing in ferry disaster

    South Korea says 293 missing in ferry disaster

    More than 100 people were still unaccounted Wednesday several hours after a ferry carrying 476, most of them high school students, sank in cold waters off South Korea's southern coast, killing at least two and...
    Nearly 300 people were still missing Wednesday several hours after a ferry carrying 459, most of them high school students, sank in cold waters off South Korea's southern coast, killing at least two and injuring seven,...
  • Police say 5 dead in Calgary stabbings

    Police say 5 dead in Calgary stabbings

    A recent graduate of the University of Calgary was charged in the fatal stabbing of five people at a house party that the police chief called the worst mass slaying in the western Canadian city's history.
    A recent graduate of the University of Calgary was charged in the fatal stabbing of five people at a house party that the police chief called the worst mass slaying in the western Canadian city's history.
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

1336 Augusta West Parkway
Augusta, GA 30909

Telephone: 706.722.6664
Email: talkback6@wjbf.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.