With help from her attorney, Matt Morgan, Rebecca Sedwick’s mother, Tricia Norman, has launched PassRebeccasLaw website with the hopes of collecting enough signed petitions to persuade state legislators to create laws that would criminalize all forms of bullying in Florida.
With PassRebeccasLaw.com, users can sign the petition to connect with lawmakers directly and urge them that this legislation is necessary not only to protect our children, Morgan says, but to stop bullying among all demographics.
“It happens in the workplace all the time. We see it on a regular basis,” Morgan said. “There’s really no age-specific bracket.”
If enacted, Rebecca’s Law, known officially as House Bill 451, would make it a first-degree misdemeanor to “willfully, maliciously or repeatedly harass or cyber bully another person,” and a third-degree felony if a “credible threat” is made. According to state House Representative Heather Fitzenhagen, who sponsors PassRebeccasLaw.com and has publicly backed the proposed bill, this law must be passed because the first step to ending the national bullying epidemic must be taken at the state level.
“We have a pervasive [problem] across our country and in Florida with bullying and cyber bullying,” Fitzenhagen told WSMV in January. “And it absolutely must stop.”
Florida’s lack of laws that punish bullying came to the forefront when two girls, ages 12 and 14, were arrested and charged with aggravated stalking in connection with Sedwick’s September 2013 suicide. It was alleged that the two girls were the main aggressors toward Sedwick online and in school before she jumped to her death from an abandoned cement factory tower near her home. Though charges were dropped against the juveniles, Morgan said at a press conferencelast month that his client is considering filing a lawsuit against both the Polk County School District and the two alleged bullies.