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The Florida Bar

Changes to Florida Cyber-Bullying Laws

Our Criminal Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale have been actively involved in both litigating and reporting on bullying cases in South Florida. This has been quite a serious topic following the tragic suicide of Rebecca Sedwick, a victim of cyber bullying and bullying in her school, Florida lawmakers are planning to make bullying and Cyber-Bullying in Broward County a criminal offense.

A New Precedent

The bill has been called Rebecca’s Law and it aims to prevent bullying in schools by making it a criminal offense. After Rebecca’s suicide, two girls accused of bullying her were initially charged with aggravated stalking but the charges were later dropped.

Florida defines bullying as “systematically and chronically inciting physical hurt or psychological distress”. This definition includes teasing, threat, social exclusion, intimidation, humiliation, physical harassment, and theft.

The state expects the law to make it clear to parents, students, and school authorities that bullying is a criminal offense. They feel that this will deter many potential bullies.

In another move, Rebecca’s mother plans to sue the school district for failing to protect her daughter from bullying. She is also reported to be contemplating filing a case for wrongful death.

Sending a Message

After Rebecca’s death, schools, parents, and law makers have moved to ensure that other children are not bullied. By making bullying a criminal offense and ensuring that students and parents are made aware of this, the law makers hope to send a strong message against bullying. They do not anticipate additional costs to arise because of the need to spread this message as they will be working with schools to ensure that students become aware of the law. The evolution of many cyber-bullying laws in Fort Lauderdale evolved out of Domestic Violence and Restraining Order Statutes.

No Longer Tolerated

If Rebecca’s Law becomes a law, students who are being bullied will be able to find relief. They will now be able to file a criminal case or complaint against the people bullying them, ensuring that effective action is taken against the bullies. With bullying becoming a criminal offense the school as well as law enforcement authorities will also have greater powers to stop the practice.

For representation for cases involving cyber-bullying:

William Moore
110 SE 6th St #1713
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
United States
(954) 523-5333

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