Civil Action for Bullying

Bullying is not taken as seriously as it should be in under criminal law, so parents are now turning to civil litigation to address the problem.

Most people have grown up with at least one bully in school, and most of the time it is upsetting but most children quietly suffer through it. However, with an increasing number of bully-induced suicides and the 24-hour reach of bullies through social media, it is not something that can be safely tolerated any longer. Most states have anti-bullying laws in place, but legislation is a far cry from enforcement.

In a recent case in Polk County in Florida, 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick committed suicide by jumping off a cement silo after 18 months of relentless bullying in school and in cyberspace from schoolmates. Two suspects were charged with felony aggravated stalking but were later released for lack of evidence.

Frustrated, Rebecca’s mother Tricia Norman filed a civil lawsuit against one of the bullying suspects Guadalupe Shaw, the Polk County School Board for failing to address the issue when it was brought to their attention, and Cemex Construction which owned the property where Rebecca committed suicide for failing to properly secure it. Mrs. Norman seeks more than $15,000 for funeral costs and pain and suffering.

Investigations suggest that the bullying was only one of Rebecca’s problems. However, the plaintiff alleges that the emotional and verbal abuse was the direct cause of sending the fragile pre-teen over the edge.