Law should get tough with bullies, dead Florida girl’s mom says

Rebecca Sedwick, 12, jumped to her death after repeated bullying. Credit: Facebook
Rebecca Sedwick, 12, jumped to her death after repeated bullying. Credit: Facebook

The mother of a 12-year-old Florida girl tormented by schoolmates until she killed herself in September said on Monday she would file a civil lawsuit and launch a national crusade to rein in bullies.

“I’m going to make sure that other children are not tormented like my daughter was. My goal is to use this personal tragedy to make society a safer place to live. I know it is what Rebecca would want,” said Tricia Norman, mother of Rebecca Sedwick.

Her lawyer, Matt Morgan, would not say who would be targeted

in the upcoming civil lawsuit over Sedwick’s death.

Sedwick jumped from a silo at an abandoned cement plant in Lakeland, Florida, after enduring months of online bullying, even after switching schools.

Felony charges of aggravated stalking were filed against two girls, 12 and 14 years old, after Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the older girl posted a subsequent online message saying: “Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but IDGAF,” an acronym typically meaning “I don’t give a f—.”

The charges were dropped last week through a juvenile diversion program that will ensure the girls get counseling.

Morgan said he was drafting legislation called “Rebecca’s Law” to provide for criminal penalties for bullying, which he said do not exist under current law.

Morgan said his law firm was also helping Norman create a petition for national legislation, which he is calling the “Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2013,” that would require schools to enforce anti-bullying rules and procedures as a condition of state funding.

Morgan described bullying as “epidemic” and issued a warning to parents that his Orlando firm, Morgan & Morgan, which bills itself as the largest consumer protection and personal injury law firm in the Southeast United States, would aggressively pursue lawsuits on behalf of bullying victims through an in-house team devoted to the issue.

“We intend to use the civil justice system to change behavior while we wait for our legislation to go through the appropriate channels,” Morgan said.

“Our message to parents is simple and it’s clear. Monitor your child’s behavior if you believe they are bullying another. You must take the steps necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future. It has to stop immediately. Because if it doesn’t you might find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit with your personal assets in jeopardy,” Morgan said.

In the Sedwick case, Judd expressed concern that the older girl’s parents allowed her to continue using electronic devices after the suicide, and that “She’s right back online doing the same kind of things again.”

Norman said it was hard to express her reaction to her daughter’s death.

“I feel like I’m living a nightmare and I can’t wake up. I keep waiting for it to be over but it never ends. My heart aches constantly, my body is numb, I can’t sleep, my happiness no longer exists. My baby is gone,” Norman said.



OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…


Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."


Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.


Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…


Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.


Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.


Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.


Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.


Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.


Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.


Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.