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Repeat bullying could become a felony in Florida


Should bullies be treated as criminals? The Florida legislature will be talking about it in their next session.

Channel Three's Laura Hussey tells us about a bill that would set criminal penalties for bullying, and make repeated bullying a felony.

"Here at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast, they've taken a strong stand against bullying. In the hallways there are lots of educational materials, and you'll see these in schools as well. But one legislator says it's just not enough."   

A Central Florida representative proposed criminal penalties for bullying after the suicide of a 12-year-old Lakeland girl who was repeatedly cyberbullied. The bill says someone who "willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly harasses or cyberbullies another," could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.

Repeat offenders could face third degree felonies. A sixth grader who says he's always been bullied thinks the consequences would make a difference.

"That would probably make them stop. Some kids think they wouldn't care, because then the next time it would happen, then they would start caring," said sixth grader Kaden Prevatt.

Supporters of this bill say it doesn't just protect kids. It sends a broader message to anyone who might think of harassing someone online.