Winterhaven Florida was rocked recently by the suicide of 12-year-old (name withheld for privacy), who threw herself from a tower at an old concrete plant after having been teased online by two other girls aged 14 and 12. The increase in the instances of suicide in Florida has been increasing, causing state lawmakers to wonder if they should pass laws against cyber bullying.
The two unnamed girls, described as ‘tormenters’ by the press, have been charged with felony stalking instead. They have been accused of telling the victim to “drink bleach and die,” accosting her physically, and the online evidence includes a Facebook post that reads, “Yes, I bullied her and she killed herself but I don’t give a ___.”
The state of California was the first to pass anti-cyber bullying legislation in 2009(CA Education Code 48900(r)). It addresses everything from content posted on websites, information relayed in chat rooms, and blogs to social media-related material like content on Facebook, text messages, and email. The code was made even more comprehensive after the bullying suicide of another 13-year-old (“Seth’s Law:” CA Education Code 34483, 46660) in that it included laws against harassment and bullying on the basis of sexual orientation. This is in addition to SB 1411, which went into effect on January 1, 2011.
Because the law in Florida does not specifically cover cyber bullying, it remains unclear how harsh the punishment for the two girls will be. Yet, this and other occurrences remain on the forefront of the Floridian lawmakers minds.