Lawyer Wants New Law To Hold Parents Criminally Liable For Their Kids' 'Cyberbullying'

from the another-tragedy-and-another-misguided-crusade dept

Lakeland, Florida has yet to erect any cyberbullying laws in the wake of a 12-years-old student's suicide, setting it apart from many other locales which have reacted badly to tragedies by rushing out overly broad and under-thought legislation. Of course, this plus is somewhat mitigated by the fact that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has pretty much turned his office into a vigilante squad after declaring his "zero tolerance" (and made up just right now) policy against cyberbullying.

Judd arrested 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw for a Facebook post in which she acknowledged bullying Rebecca Sedwick and noted she "didn't give a fuck" that the 12-year-old had killed herself. Judd charged Shaw with aggravated stalking. Not content with that, Judd tasked his investigators with finding something he could charge Shaw's parents with because he was unimpressed with Shaw's unrepentant attitude and her parents' failure to "smash" Shaw's computer into "thousands of pieces" after they found out about her activities.

Lucky for Judd, investigators found something, although that "something" isn't entirely related to Shaw's alleged bullying of Sedwick.

An outspoken Florida sheriff who arrested a 14-year-old girl for cyber-bullying after a younger schoolmate killed herself has filed child abuse charges against her mother, over an unrelated incident.

Polk County sheriff Grady Judd said Vivien Lee Vosburg, 30, punched and shouted obscenities at several children in her care in a violent incident in June that was captured on video [which can be viewed here] and later posted to Facebook by one of the children.
Judd has held Shaw's mother, Vivian Lee Vosburg, on child abuse charges. Meanwhile, Shaw has been released pending a court appearance. Not exactly what Judd was looking for when he first stated his desire to charge Shaw's parents for contributing (I guess) to the bullying of Rebecca Sedwick, but it seems to fit the narrative he's portraying.
"This clearly indicates to us that this appears to be a normal way of life," said Judd, who has declared a "zero tolerance" approach to cyber-bullying in his county. "They're laughing and cussing and throwing the F-bomb around, then they're posting that conduct for all to see. It is clear not only has Vosburg demonstrated she cannot control the behaviour of children she has access to without using violence, but she is obviously not monitoring the social media sites of children she has access to either.

"I'm astounded by this conduct, I'm astounded that it was posted and then I'm even more astounded that it stayed there."

Of Guadalupe Shaw, Judd said: "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
Judd's getting what he wants: a chance to prosecute parents for a child's behavior, all of which is punishment for another child's suicide. But so far, he and his "zero tolerance" have been limited to existing laws. Unfortunately, someone wants to change that, and that someone is none other than George Zimmerman's defense attorney, Mark O'Mara.
Florida attorney Mark O'Mara is stepping onto center stage in the debate over how much parents should be held responsible for children’s cyberbullying. He plans to draft legislation to impose criminal liability on parents who show "willful blindness or gross negligence" to the kind of online torment allegedly inflicted on Rebecca Sedwick, for which two girls were recently arrested.

"If a child kills someone while operating a parent’s car, the parents can be held responsible. If a child kills someone while using a parent's gun, the parent can be held responsible. If a child breaks the law using a computer or cellphone provided by the parent, how is that different?" wrote Mr. O'Mara, who served as defense attorney for George Zimmerman in this year's Trayvon Martin murder trial, in his "O'Mara Law Blog" on Thursday.
O'Mara's terrible idea looks to do more damage than Sheriff Judd's new found interest in zero tolerance policing of cyberbullies. O'Mara's proposal aims to do what Nova Scotia's atrociously bad cyberbullying law does: hold parents responsible for their children's actions. While O'Mara may have point about legal adults having been historically held responsible for certain illegal acts utilizing property owned by parents, this is breaking new ground.

For one thing, while Nova Scotia's law has the (to date untested) potential to hold parents civilly liable for their children's online bullying actions, O'Mara's draft legislation would hold parents criminally liable, a much more negative potential outcome. The attorney believes the law is needed because (in his opinion) parents have become too lax in monitoring and controlling their children's online activities.
O'Mara acknowledged in his blog that "there are substantial obstacles in the way of passing such legislation," but he said, "If parents won't adopt that responsibility, we need to hold their feet to the fire and insist they share liability, especially when their children's actions have life or death consequences."
If O'Mara's legislation is combined with the worst aspects of Nova Scotia's law (purely subjective "standard" for what can be termed "bullying," the entire process is ex parte -- no input from the accused during any step of the process), Floridians are going to have a new nightmare on their hands. Laws like this chill speech by holding normally protected expression to broadly restrictive standards. But all of this is what's come to be expected when people with the power to push legislation and deploy investigators decide to turn a tragedy into a crusade.



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    Ninja (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:47am

    Right, let us punish at an extreme level and fuck up the kid entirely not only by arresting them in the present, fucking up their future with criminal records but also let's remove any possibility of having their basic needs fulfilled or any attempt of education by removing the parents too.

    Start building State-sized prisons America, you'll need them.

     

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      Deranged Poster (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:30am

      Re:

      State sized ?
      Don't you realize that the goal is to get the Wall put up around The United States, so we can just declare the Entire US Population to be in Prison.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:38am

      Re:

      How the hell is arresting the parents of the child accused for 'cyberbullying' based on evidence that has been found that shows those parents abusing a child a bad thing!!!????!

       

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        Rikuo (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:14pm

        Re: Re:

        While not a bad thing in and of itself (arresting a child abusing parent), the way law enforcement went about it is just plain wrong. As the article indicates, Sheriff Judd desperately wanted to arrest the parents, so he went fishing about for whatever he could find to charge the parents with. Law enforcement (in theory) isn't supposed to do this. It shows the cop is being vindictive.
        I know, this isn't black and white. The same sort of thing applied to Al Capone, where law enforcement knew what he was guilty of but couldn't prove it in court, so they fished around and eventually got him on tax evasion.

         

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          madasahatter (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:48pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Capone was guilty of income tax evasion because he failed to pay taxes on his earnings. The evidence was in the financial records. The Feds were fishing for something that was legitimate and would stick. In many cases today, the overcrimilization and abusive police mean that it is fairly easy to charge someone with a felony even if there was no intent, malice, or very indirect responsibility.

           

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        Ninja (profile), Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 2:15am

        Re: Re:

        Because they are totally separated problems and the children actions should not trigger actions against their parents except in VERY specific cases. Because children don't have the maturity to know what they are doing is stupid and wrong no matter how good their parents are. I did stupid things as a kid and some of them even involved property damage (albeit it wasn't the intention at the time). My parents gave me that big punishment and paid for the repairs. No law enforcement involved.

        I will concede that this case could bring some civil procedures against her parents (supposing the abuse had not taken place) and the kid should receive one huge wrist slap and proper punishment which again does not need any involvement from law enforcement.

        And last but not least, suicide can have SHITLOADS of reasons. The bully could have been the trigger but it's unlike she was the only reason much like you can't say that Ortiz and Holder overreach were the sole responsible for Swartz suicide (even though they should be punished hard but that's another story).

         

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    Transmitte (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:08am

    More grandstanding from public officials trying to curtail problems that happened on their watch(or trying to look tough in general) along with trying to make a name for themselves on someones bad fortune/bad mistakes.

    Why do we knee jerk some damned badly in this country?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:17am

    Attention Floridians

    Don't go overboard here.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:18am

    How about we stop rewarding suicide? Think about it: well alive, if some kid says something mean to you, the general reaction is "fucking grow up", or more politely, but just as bad, "kids will be kids". There's very little support, and having just gotten out of high school, I know all too well.

    Once you commit suicide, nothing is your fault, everything is because of the bullies. If people cared half, or even a quarter as much while these people were alive, then most of them would probably still be alive.

    I'm not saying it's right, but for some people, it actually makes sense to commit suicide. It makes the pain of being bullied go away, and also the bullies will be punished, something that won't happen unless you do kill yourself.

     

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      Digger, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 6:05pm

      Re:

      Children's current world was created by all the idiots that told them that they were special, that they were winners (nobody is a loser), that they never did anything wrong, that they can have anything and everything they want, that they can do anything they want (the bad way, like stay up all night, watch any movie, play any video game, blah blah blah without ever having any consequences to their actions, because punishing is WRONG)...

      Guess what folks, all those "parenting seminars" that told you to act that way are wrong, they are setting you and your kids up for suicide, because when the real world comes crashing down on little Susy or little Johnny, ack - they just don't know how to cope with rejection, with losing, with being told they were wrong, or not good enough.

      Life's tough, make sure your child understands this.

      People suck, they will do anything to get ahead, including back-stabbing, lying, cheating because they were taught that it's okay to do this as long as it's so they get what they want, because they deserve to get it without earning it.

      Children have to be taught morals, the differences between right and wrong.

      Whether or not you have a religion, the 10 commandments make a pretty simple set of rules to teach your kids.

      The golden rule also applies heavily.

      Parents have a responsibility to their children and their community to make sure their kids take responsibility for their own actions. This includes punishment. Punishment isn't always verbal, corporal punishment is sometimes a must. A swat to the bottom, a slap to a hand, a stern voice, publicly berating a child who steps out of line isn't a bad thing.

      Abusing a child? you bet, that's bad - punishment isn't, never has been, and never will be.

      If punishment were bad, why do we have prisons? Why do we have death penalty?

      Wouldn't a few spankings when a child be better than lethal injection as an adult because you thought you were entitled to get what you wanted, just because you wanted it, so you decided to take that person sexually, or steal their car, and when they fought you, you killed them (again, because you were raised to believe you deserved anything and everything you wanted without consequence).

      Do yourselves, your children, and your community a favor.

      Become a parent again, do the right thing, educate your children that there are consequences to their actions.

      Teach them that in most things in life, there is only 1 winner, and everyone else doesn't win.

      Teach them that in order to get something, you have to strive, to work for it, to EARN it.

      Teach them that if they mis-step, someone will catch them and they will have to pay the consequences.

      Teach them to respect authority, start with their Elders, then their friends and finally themselves.

      Talk to them for crying out loud. Find out their concerns, their worries. Talk to them while they do their chores, their homework. Take responsibility for what you created.

      You might be surprised, a little old-school raising and parenting would probably help to turn the country around.

      I'm sure our current crop of "you-owe-me" politicians certainly wouldn't act the way they do if they'd had a steadier hand teaching them right from wrong growing up.

       

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    Guardian, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:21am

    i think stupidpeople.com is taken

    hey can we hold parents liable for a 5 yr old taking a hammer to another 5 yr old?

    hey why not

    then parents get life in prison and htat kid gets screwed up in foster care and the world is more like how the nsa wants to keep its existance

     

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      Ntlgnce, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:28pm

      Re: i think stupidpeople.com is taken

      I think you should actually think about what your saying..
      A 5 year old with a hammer? How did the 5 year old get a hammer? Of course the parents should be held liable. Its the parents job to teach their children right from wrong, and produce a productive child. And if they failed at it then they should be held responcible. GET A CLUE already..


      Oh wait, I know lets not teach our kids not to steal so they steal us a fortune, The kids under 18, they wont be held liable, and me and mom will be rich. Stupid people produce stupid comments.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 6:36am

        Re: Re: i think stupidpeople.com is taken

        "How did the 5 year old get a hammer?"

        Not a parent are you?

        No matter how hard you try they will find something dangerous from somewhere!

         

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    Guardian, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:22am

    people that kill themselves...

    people that kill themselves , aren't exactly the picture of stable health even without bullying....ask a shrink they will tell ya as much

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:45am

      Re: people that kill themselves...

      This is true - for some reason they never investigate the parents of the suicidal teen - I guess they just assume "they've suffered enough!"

      In the grand scheme of things, to have to have a pretty damn low self-esteem to kill yourself. What kind of parents allow their children to be like that?

      Guessing mommy was a stripper, daddy is a verbally abusive ass who sits on the couch drinking beer all day. Neither of them care what their daughter is up to.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:03pm

        Re: Re: people that kill themselves...

        In the grand scheme of things, to have to have a pretty damn low self-esteem to kill yourself

        A low self esteem also opens the person up to being bullied.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 6:45pm

          Re: Re: Re: people that kill themselves...

          True, it is also true that a low self steem opens up people to become bullies.

          They are 2 faces of the same coin.

          Some chose death other chose to hit back at life and show everyone that they are something by any means necessary.

           

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      Brazenly anonymous, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 8:26pm

      Re: people that kill themselves...

      Actually, this is a misrepresentation. As part of the onset of suicidal depression, there is generally at least some naive assumption about the world that will be broken, but then all of us hold naive assumptions. When things go really really wrong and it looks like they won't ever get better, the depressed withdraw from society and become increasingly unstable as they fall into a lethal spiral.

      Suicide is also one of the most selfish and self-serving actions I have ever come across. In fact, I'd say knowingly and intentionally driving someone else to suicide is probably the only more selfish act. When someone commits suicide, those around them will blame themselves, even if they publicly rage against someone else (I have seen what the pain of those in this state). The suicide trades their own pain for the pain of those around them, and it is their burden for creating that pain (yes, I'm speaking ill of the dead, it needs to be said).

      I came very close to committing suicide. The first statement I make from the standpoint of having regained stability in my life and being able to reflect on my own past. The second part is largely why I am still around, and why I know I will never again walk that path. And for those of you wondering, I encountered what the pain of suicide looks like only after having made the decision that I could not cause it, so it isn't necessary to witness that to arrive at such a conclusion.

       

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    Michael, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:25am

    Attention Florida Children

    Attention Florida Children!

    This is fantastic news for all of you slightly sociopathic children that are interested in doing something that shows just how much you don't "give a fuck". Now, by taking out your frustration on your peers, you are also able to rain a big shit storm down on your parents! It's a two-for sale!

    I have only one question. What are they going to do when foster children (who's "parents" are officially the state of Florida) bully someone after this law has passed? Will these unfortunate souls FINALLY have a way to get back at the state by opening it up to civil and criminal liability for their actions? Yay! Thank goodness for morons that come up with really bad legislation!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:28am

    Remember kids, if you're having a tough time with bullies the best way to get back at them is to kill yourself because that way your bullies well be arrested, their parents will be put in jail, and they'll have to grow up in foster care! At least as long as guys like sheriff Judd are on the case!

     

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      madasahatter (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:52pm

      Re:

      As a kid I remember the best lesson I learned was to stand up to a bully, winning the fight was not important. The vast majority of bullies are really cowards seeking very easy prey.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 1:29pm

      Re:

      The problem is that we teach children that they should not fight back; the child, quite correctly, surmises that nothing can be done, and, with no other escape, commits suicide.

      Teach you children that the best way to deal with a bully is to make sure he's not capable of bullying you again. This will allow the child to proactively deal with the problem.

       

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        Pragmatic, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 3:33am

        Re: Re:

        That'd work fine if the usual targets were built like the proverbial brick outhouse. You forget that targets tend to be small, weak, and socially inept. That's what makes them targets in the first place.

        So how the hell does a Bart Simpson take on a Nelson Muntz and win?

         

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          Brazenly Anonymous, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 6:28am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Karate classes seem to work well for many.
          Learning how to check someone a la hockey also works really well.
          Kicking shins is a good one that is fairly easy to figure out.
          My brother always preferred a nice headbutt, but then he hit his head on everything growing up.

           

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    Glen, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:36am

    Is he going to hold himself and his fellow prosecutors to the same standard when they start with the prosecutorial overreach?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Zero tolerance of bullying obviously does not ext5enmd as far as law enforcement, they are free to bully people into admitting something, or accepting a plea bargain.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:53am

    So according to Zimmerman's lawyer we should throw parents of bullying children in jail, but let people who chase random unarmed strangers doing nothing illegal, and murder them with a gun go free?

     

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    Trevor, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:02pm

    Um

    Anyone else notice the leap in logic in O'Mara's reasoning for the proposed law?

    If a child KILLS someone with their parents' car, the parents can be found responsible.
    If a child KILLS someone with their parents' gun, the parents can be found responsible.
    If a child BREAKS THE LAW on a computer provided by the parents, shouldn't the parents be responsible?

    One of those things is NOT like the other.

    Also, since suicide is not technically illegal (only attempted suicide is) how can one BREAK THE LAW by conduct that leads to a successful suicide? Had the girl tried and failed, I can see them going after the bullies for aiding and abetting an attempted suicide, but you can't get charged with "aiding" something that isn't a crime.

    It seems the first step would be to outlaw suicide in order to properly charge people who bully others into killing themselves. For now, "Cyberstalking" has to cover it. :/

    *Note: This is horrible and the bully is a horrible person, and I don't condone that conduct ever (I have kids, I would personally hunt down anyone who tried this with mine).

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:20pm

      Re: Um

      "Also, since suicide is not technically illegal (only attempted suicide is)"

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_legislation

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide#Legislati on
      "In most Western countries, suicide is no longer a crime,"
      "No country in Europe currently considers suicide or attempted suicide to be a crime."
      "In the United States, suicide is not illegal but may be associated with penalties for those who attempt it.[113] Physician-assisted suicide is legal in the states of Oregon[124] and Washington.[125]"

      At worst, in certain western nations, there may be legal liabilities on those who assist the person committing suicide, or are present and do nothing to help save their live.

       

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        Trevor, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:39pm

        Re: Re: Um

        Unless "assisting the successful act of suicide" is a crime, how can "assisting" someone in committing suicide (which isn't a crime) be a crime?

        That's like being charged with Assisting driving while not under the influence.

        The target act (suicide/driving while not intoxicated) is not illegal, so how can the assist (helping the target be achieved) be illegal?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 6:41am

          Re: Re: Re: Um

          If you have to assist someone in suicide it usually means they don't have the capacity of capability to do it themselves. So they also don't have the ability to fight back.

           

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    Chris Brand, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:02pm

    I know the answer!

    "If a child kills someone while operating a parentís car, the parents can be held responsible. If a child kills someone while using a parent's gun, the parent can be held responsible. If a child breaks the law using a computer or cellphone provided by the parent, how is that different?"

    Well just from that quote, in the first two cases the "child kills someone" whereas in the third, the "child breaks the law".

    Do I get a prize ?

     

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      Trevor, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 4:44pm

      Re: I know the answer!

      Yes. you win 5 internets!

      Congratulations!

       

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      Brazenly anonymous, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 8:34pm

      Re: I know the answer!

      No, the problem with the analogy is that allowing a child to operate either a car or a gun (without proper supervision and age requirements met) is highly negligent. Allowing a child to operate a computer is not.

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    "seems to fit the narrative he's portraying." -- Yeah, does EXACTLY.

    As described, that incident was overdue for prosecution. I'm sure no one is defending that, so what exactly is your point here? Worrying that abusive and lax parents might be charged for actual crimes committed with video evidence? -- Or that putting common law terms of "willful blindness or gross negligence" into statute is a bad idea?

    Yeah, yeah. Slippery slope. You kids can just never see that your own "anarcho-libertarian" notions of being able to do whatever you want without regard to potential or actual harm to others is what makes the slippery slope questions so frequent. A free people must regulate themselves FIRST, and well ahead of gov't actions.

    By the way, when did this turn into a law blog?

     

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      Brazenly anonymous, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 8:38pm

      Re: "seems to fit the narrative he's portraying." -- Yeah, does EXACTLY.

      The argument is that gross negligence should not come to mean allowing your child use of a computer without monitoring their actions with it constantly; that being a helicopter parent should not be enforced by the legal system.

       

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    arcan, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:22pm

    there needs to be a one year moratorium for enacting legislation on an event.

    If legislation references an event or the people who proposed and or support it reference an event as why we need said legislation within one year of said event then said legislation should undeniably and permanently declared unconstituitional.

     

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      Trevor, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:33pm

      Re:

      What about continuing events, such as mass shootings or other people being bullied online, which happen repeatedly? The Aurora shooting occurred in July 2012, and 1 year later in July 2013 13 people were murdered on a basketball court in Illinois. Is the clock reset?

       

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        arcan, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 2:55pm

        Re: Re:

        those are new events. they must be counted separately. in july 2013 you would be able to reference everything that happened prior to july 2012.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 1:35pm

      Re:

      Add to that, for every law you enact you must remove Two from the books.

       

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        Brazenly anonymous, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 8:41pm

        Re: Re:

        Needs a limit where this stricture is no longer enforced. This limit should be able to be decreased through a bill, but never increased.

        Also needs to define the exact boundaries of what constitutes a single law.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    It looks like Grady Judd thinks the best way to solve bullying is to be a bully.

     

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    Ntlgnce, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:39pm

    Stupid parents produce stupid kids, they all should be held liable.

    Am I the only one who knows how to use his brain?
    I honestly dont understand how anyone could disagree, that holding the parents responcible for their childrens crimes, is the wrong thing to do! Seriously, Parents NEED to raise their children. Not set them free to terrorize the world, as no one ever taught them right from wrong. Its the parents responcibility to teach them right from wrong. Oh wait those who disagree are the parents who let their 16 year old daughter run the streets at 2 am. Or let their 16 year old son take their hand gun to their friends house for the weekend. Think about what your saying before you say it people.

     

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      Dmbshll, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 1:13pm

      Re: Stupid parents produce stupid kids, they all should be held liable.

      1st problem: Children can be prosecuted as adults. If you hold the parents responsible simply because they didn't raise their children correctly, then no longer can we prosecute children as adults.

      2nd problem: If the parents didn't raise their kids right then the parents of those parents are also at fault. Where does it end for this loose idea of criminal responsibility?

      3rd problem: Knowing right from wrong is still the basic rationale used to determine if one can be held responsible for their own crimes. You can't be prosecuted if you can't tell right from wrong (the insanity defense).

      That's just the beginning. I suspect, though, you are just trolling and it is now my lunch time and not yours.

       

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    btr1701 (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:43pm

    Overturned

    Won't last ten seconds in a court challenge.

     

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    aldestrawk (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:46pm

    legal inconsistency

    If you accept O'Mara's argument that the parents of a bullying child are criminally responsible because they exhibit "willful blindness or gross negligence" in allowing the bullying to occur, then you have to accept the same argument for the victim's parents. The victim's parents also must have been too lax in monitoring their child's online behavior. I doubt O'Mara is willing to hold the victim's parents equally responsible and I wonder how he would argue himself out of that inconsistency.

     

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      Deranged Poster (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 1:25pm

      Re: legal inconsistency

      "I wonder how he would argue himself out of that inconsistency."
      Something along the line of "They've been punished enough by the loss of their child."

       

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        aldestrawk (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 1:44pm

        Re: Re: legal inconsistency

        There are too many prosecutors willing to punish parents further for a child's death even in marginal circumstances. That argument might come into play in a decision to prosecute, or a judges sentencing decision, but I don't see a fair way of keeping a victim's parents from being included in such a law. Once you take a step away from direct criminality (i.e. bully/victim and that's assuming the bully can be prosecuted under the law) then both sets of parents are criminal in allowing unmonitored internet access.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 1:22pm

    There is no such thing as cyberbullying

    There are only grandstanding politicians, celebrities, and attorneys who wish to personally profit from continuing to pretend that it exists.

     

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 1:23pm

    Tim Cushing says in his article that "Laws like this chill speech by holding normally protected expression to broadly restrictive standards".

    WOW! I can't believe he actually said that.

    For one thing, this doesn't chill free speech. It only seeks to make those responsible for the criminal acts of their children. For one thing, the supreme court has said that free speech as outlined in the first amendment is not absolute and that it has limits. For example, it's against the law to act out in a verbal fashion when your speech is likely to "incite imminent lawless action". This is why it's against the law to shout "fire" in a crowded theater because of the risk of the potential loss of life.

    O'Mara is simply seeking to hold parents liable for the conduct of their children when their children use websites to verbally act out. After all, when you post defamatory content online, you can still be held civilly liable for the content that you have posted online. O'Mara is simply seeking to expand that responsibility to "criminal" acts.

    If you have a child and your child causes the death of another person by what he or she has posted online and that's your child that has posted it and you did nothing to prevent your child from posting that content or you knew about what your child posted and did nothing to monitor your children's online activity, then you really should be held criminally liable for what your child has done.

    I wholly support laws of this nature being passed in every state, not just Florida.

     

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      Deranged Poster (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 1:28pm

      Re:

      Shut up you friggen moron. If you're incapable of understanding how laws like this chill speech, you need to go back to your Momma's basement.

       

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      Trevor, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 1:35pm

      Re:

      Problem with your analysis:

      The First Amendment is NOT absolute, true. For example, speech "likely to incite imminent lawless action." such as riots or crimes.

      How is Suicide a crime?

      Also, was it IMMINENT? or over a period of time? You can't shout FIRE in a theater or BOMB on a Plane because of the IMMINENT threat it causes to people's safety, nor can you get on a microphone and tell a crowd of people to stone a cop the crowd has surrounded, because of the threat of IMMINENT harm to that person. But can cyberbullying be considered an IMMINENT threat to someone's life/safety?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 2:08pm

        Re: Re:

        That's a limitation placed on the 1st amendment. The fact is, the bill of rights enumerate the rights we are born with. The rights that are without question. I disagree with the courts interpretation on this one. I believe all speech should be protected.

         

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 2:30pm

      Re:

      For one thing, this doesn't chill free speech. It only seeks to make those responsible for the criminal acts of their children. For one thing, the supreme court has said that free speech as outlined in the first amendment is not absolute and that it has limits. For example, it's against the law to act out in a verbal fashion when your speech is likely to "incite imminent lawless action". This is why it's against the law to shout "fire" in a crowded theater because of the risk of the potential loss of life.

      The above paragraph is immediate evidence that you don't know what you're talking about.

      http://www.popehat.com/2012/09/19/three-generations-of-a-hackneyed-apologia-for-censorship-are -enough/

       

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      Digger, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 5:48pm

      All those who believe O'Mara's rhetoric...

      Bullying isn't a crime, otherwise you'd have been in jail when you were a child.

      Children will be children, bullying (and being bullied) is a part of the growing up process.

      Good grief. Bullying isn't a crime, neither is cyber-bullying.

      Now, having an attorney general threaten someone who was arrested for no legal reason until they kill themselves, now that is murder and should be punished.

      However, someone teasing someone, calling them names, poking fun at them - well, sorry folks, that's just part of being human. People are rude, people are cruel, but nothing anyone says, or anyone writes can hurt anyone physically. If their mental state is so badly off that it can be affected that deeply, then there are other issues involved, including poor parenting skills of the child who is being bullied and thinking about offing themselves because of it.

      If you don't like what people are saying about a choice you made, perhaps you shouldn't have made that choice.

      Kids are cruel, it's a fact of life. you can't reprogram kids not to be, if you think you can, you're fooling yourself. Peer pressure, croud-think, wanting to fit in all lead to perfectly normal, perfectly adjusted kids bullying others at one time or other.

      If you try to claim that you never bullied anyone, you're a liar.

       

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        The Real Michael, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 7:24am

        Re: All those who believe O'Mara's rhetoric...

        Welcome to the New Orwellian America v1.2, where freedom of speech is only allowed in designated areas and thought crimes are now punishable by the State.

        Since activist judges and prosecutors are now looking at legislature for the purpose of extending punishment for thought crimes to third-parties, will they also seek to prosecute the relevant authorities whenever someone beneath their chain of command breaks a law or steps out of bounds?

        This court case is a blatant affront to the Constitution, as is Obamacare (what a farce) and pretty much everything else going on these days. Note to US soldiers who cherish their freedoms: the enemy isn't thousands of miles away in some third-world country; the enemy is within.

         

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 1:26pm

    I forgot to add the case law to my above post. Check out Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), where the U.S. Supreme Court that defined the limits of free speech:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg_v._Ohio

     

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    Nathan F (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 2:31pm

    So. Mother hits some kids and throws some bad words around, one of said kids records it and posts it on the interwebs. Sheriff gets all upset and then says

    ""This clearly indicates to us that this appears to be a normal way of life," said Judd, who has declared a "zero tolerance" approach to cyber-bullying in his county. "They're laughing and cussing and throwing the F-bomb around, then they're posting that conduct for all to see. It is clear not only has Vosburg demonstrated she cannot control the behaviour of children she has access to without using violence, but she is obviously not monitoring the social media sites of children she has access to either.

    "I'm astounded by this conduct, I'm astounded that it was posted and then I'm even more astounded that it stayed there." "

    Hey genius.. the mother didn't post the video, and there was no guarantee that the kid was part of her daughters circle of friends to see the video if in fact she checked her Facebook as often as claimed. If you are astounded that the video was posted in the first place, talk to the kid who posted it, if you are even more astounded that it stayed there go talk to that kids parents and bring them up on charges for something or another.

     

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 2:58pm

    Mike, I'm a firm supporter of the right to free speech but I also believe that if your child is responsible for the death of another person, then you, as well as your child should be held responsible.

    The problem with the internet is that most children think that there are no consequences and they do things without thinking. Children look at the internet like they do a videogame and think that nothing will happen.

    I simply don't see the first amendment as an all encompassing protection where it is used to excuse all verbal behavior. If I make a comment that "I wish you would die", then that's a personal statement that would be protected. But, if I make that same statement and the person the statement is aimed at goes out and commits suicide, then that is an action by which I should be liable for.

    The fact is, children think that there are no consequences by posting something online and they need to be forced to see that there are consequences for everything you do, whether that's in real life or on some social media website.

    The simple truth is, that soon, Congress is going to end up passing legislation to classify cyber-bullying and that parents are going to end up finding themselves responsible for the conduct of their own children.

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 3:04pm

      Re:

      "then that's a personal statement that would be protected. But, if I make that same statement and the person the statement is aimed at goes out and commits suicide, then that is an action by which I should be liable for."

      So somehow by your reasoning, when you say to me "I wish you would die" and I do nothing, then your statement is protected free speech. But, if I go out and commit suicide, which is something wholly outside your control (maybe prompted by your statement, or maybe because of other reasons, who knows), somehow your statement, through no action of your own, falls outside of free speech protections.
      How? I'm the person making the decision to commit suicide. Not you.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 5:46pm

      Re:

      I'm a firm supporter of the right to free speech but I also believe that if your child is responsible for the death of another person, then you, as well as your child should be held responsible.

      Three questions:

      1. Do you think that it's appropriate in this situation where the children did not kill the other person, but they committed suicide?

      2. Why do you think the parent should be responsible for the actions of their children?

      3. Do you realize how that absolves the children of responsibility for their own actions, and (often) gives them incentive to do bad things to punish their own parents?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 4:39am

        Re: Re:

        1. People who are subject to persistent bullying, either from an individual, or by society as a whole are often driven to suicide. Homosexuals, religious minorities... The bullies need to suffer some sort of consequences for their actions and speech. Instead, we get people lining up to defend shitbags like WBC, anti-abortion people who get doctors killed and so on.

        Apparently it's much more important for our society that those cretins can spread their poison than people being allowed to live free of persecution. This kind of hate is embedded in society precisely because of this dogmatic position in America that free speech must be absolute regardless of who suffers.

        Many other countries in the developed world would put people like that in jail. And most of those countries rank higher than the US in many quality of life statistics. And one more thing, in most of those countries, other forms of speech remain intact. Imagine that! So there goes the slippery slope fallacy.

        2. Because the parents are responsible for the upbringing of that child.

        3. Like that one episode of South Park, right? This is why we gather evidence first and hold both parties responsible.

         

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          Brazenly Anonymous, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 6:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Many other countries in the developed world would put people like that in jail. And most of those countries rank higher than the US in many quality of life statistics. And one more thing, in most of those countries, other forms of speech remain intact. Imagine that! So there goes the slippery slope fallacy.


          The US does too, actually, through manslaughter and hate crime laws. The requirements for conviction are strict and the punishments are certainly not as much outright murder, but we do have laws on the books capable of handling these issues when someone actually does set out to destroy the life of another.

           

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      Gwiz (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 8:47pm

      Re:

      If I make a comment that "I wish you would die", then that's a personal statement that would be protected. But, if I make that same statement and the person the statement is aimed at goes out and commits suicide, then that is an action by which I should be liable for.



      So the only distinction you make between those two scenarios is the action of a 3rd party (ie: the person who actually committed the act of suicide)?

      You really think it makes sense to hold someone criminally responsible for the actions of another person?

       

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      JMT (profile), Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 3:44am

      Re:

      "...I also believe that if your child is responsible for the death of another person..."

      As applied to this particular case, your argument falls apart in the first sentence, because this bit simply isn't true.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 3:45pm

    The only speech being 'chilled' is speech that seeks to cause harm to other people. Good riddance. Providing all other forms of speech remain intact, our society is better.

     

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      AC Unknown (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 4:45pm

      Re:

      First they came for the bullies...

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 4:21am

        Re: Re:

        Yup, the ol' slippery slope fallacy. Good one! Never heard that one before!

        If your entire counter argument rests on a fallacy, you lose.

         

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      Brazenly anonymous, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 8:52pm

      Re:

      The speech being chilled is any speech that anyone could argue led to someone committing suicide, like thoroughly and somewhat roughly trouncing someone in a debate when they had built their entire worldview around the belief being debunked. Debates, at least any that are any good at all, tend to get rather heated, so when that final debunking comes, it tends to be just a tad rough. The leap seems a bit much right now, but then, leaping to criminal negligence for not monitoring every single thing your child says online seems just as absurd a leap to me.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 4:23am

        Re: Re:

        That's why they need to evaluate each situation on its own merit. I believe the underlying theory is sound, it's just the details like this that need working out.

         

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          Brazenly Anonymous, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 6:39am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The details are rather simple and already covered under manslaughter laws. If the prosecution can demonstrate intent to drive someone to suicide and action to carry out that intent, then the perpetrator goes down for manslaughter. This is hard to prove, but necessary to satisfy basic principles of law, such as those subject to it knowing what is illegal.

           

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      Gwiz (profile), Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 7:24am

      Re:

      The only speech being 'chilled' is speech that seeks to cause harm to other people. Good riddance. Providing all other forms of speech remain intact, our society is better.


      That comment has caused me irreparable emotional harm. Are you willing to relinquish your speech rights now?

      The slippery slope here is the simple fact that interpretation of speech is entirely subjective. Your so called "harmful" speech may seem completely appropriate to me and vice versa.

       

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    Digger, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 4:19pm

    Sticks and Stones.....

    *Begin Rant* - offensive language used - get over yourself

    You know what? Here's the simple way to solve this.

    #1 - Anyone less than 18 years of age - no online accounts, anywhere. No game accounts, no mmo accounts, no facebook, twitter, whatever, period.

    #2 - Kids - Grow a fucking pair.
    When I was growing up, and yes, I was bullied - the real kind, you know, when someone actually hit you, gave you a black eye, or kicked your ass just for being smarter than them. So what if they call you names, big whoop. Get over it. The biggest thing wrong with America today is that people feel that if they are offended then they can prevent someone from doing what offended them.

    The PC (politically correct) virus spreading through the American culture today is dangerous. If someone doesn't like something, they get to say so. If it offends someone, that offendee can go fuck themselves, too bad, shut the fuck up and move on.

    Nowhere in the constitution does it say:
    "Congress shall pass no law inhibiting a citizens right not to be offended" - ie
    "You do not have the right, not to be offended".

    Politically correct, isn't.

    If I don't like something, I can say so, and you can piss off if you don't like it, or you can so you don't like what I said.

    You cannot shut me up. You cannot sue me. You cannot threaten me with copyright violation, or other legal antics.

    I get to say what I want, period. Freedom of speech/expression baby.

    If I don't like morons, I will say so. If I don't like someone's choice, like drinking and driving, or smoking in an enclosed space with minors present, I'm going to say something.

    If I don't like someone's choice about how they want to live their life, I will, by God, say something.

    It doesn't make me a hater, it doesn't make me evil, it doesn't even make me a bully.

    I don't like red-headed-step-child antics pulled off by every piss-ant-with-a-chip-on-their-shoulder-and-a-cause getting in the way of my rights and priveleges outlined in the Constitution.

    Daddy Daughter dances get to be called Daddy Daughter Dances, fuck it, if you only have Mommy Daughter in your family, then go that way, but don't sue to change the name or put a stop to it you fucking moron. You don't have the right not to be offended.

    Christmas parties in school, church, at work. Guess what, the majority of the people in America when it was founded were Christians. The majority to this day are still Christians. If a school, or workplace wants to have a Christmas party, then by all means have one. If you aren't a Christian, then either go and enjoy it in the spirit that it was meant, or don't go, but don't you fucking dare sue or threaten the group having the Christmas party you fucking Moron. You don't have the right not to be offended.

    That ought to cover the beginnings of fixes here.

    Kids will be kids, kids will be bullied, and parents can't always control their kids.

    Should parents spend more time monitoring their kids? Yup.

    Should parents be allowed to discipline their children? Yup.

    Does a swat or two constitute abuse? Fuck no.

    Does a slap to the hand when a child does something dangerous constitute abuse? Hell no.

    Discipline is discipline, which is essential in proper child-raising.

    Without discipline, all we end up with are self-centered, feeling-entitled-without-doing-anything-to-earn-it, everyone-is-a-winner, nobody-can-tell-me-no-or-I'm-gonna-cry-abuse, cry-to-mommy-when-someone-calls-me-a-name, nobody-can-do-anything-that-I-might-be-offended-by asshats.

    Stop the spread of asshats, reign in your holy terror, spank their asses when they deserve it, slap their hands if necessary, take away their iPhone - all they need is a way to call mom or dad (substitute to fit your lifestyle, but you can't tell me I can't say mom and dad you fucking moron), or have mom and dad call you.

    Kids shouldn't have the ability to text or e-mail. They shouldn't have online personas. They should be going outside to play together. Run their fat asses off.

    *end rant*

     

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      Pragmatic, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 3:38am

      Re: Sticks and Stones.....

      Damn straight!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 4:25am

      Re: Sticks and Stones.....

      There's a difference between being offended and being bullied and persecuted. One can be ignored, the other causes you to be beaten, be discriminated against for jobs, etc. I don't expect you to understand since you are likely a member of the privileged class.

       

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        Pragmatic, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 6:03am

        Re: Re: Sticks and Stones.....

        No, I was bullied to the point of suicide like Brazenly Anonymous was. The thing is, I can tell the difference between a bit of name-calling and persistent persecution with a side order of violence, threats of violence, and everybody joining in. Don't get me started on ACTUAL bullying.

        The trouble is, PERCEIVED bullying is often given the same weight as ACTUAL bullying and some people have trouble seeing what the difference is. Allow me to clarify:

        being so easily offended that you demand the removal of religious symbols from public areas or from public offices is actually a form of bullying and possibly a First Amendment violation because you're heading down the "approved speech" route with that. And it's bullying.

        Prohibiting parents from applying sanctions including a smack that leaves no lasting marks/bruises to unruly children creates situations like the one we're discussing here. And it's a form of bullying because it's heading down the "approved child-rearing" route, which is already causing the social problems Digger mentioned.

        Making catty and cruel remarks about a person's sexuality, appearance, religion, amount of subcutaneous melanin, etc., over and over again and encouraging others to join in; constantly criticising and complaining about someone to make them look bad; and encouraging others to think badly of an individual for any reason is ACTUAL bullying. Add violence, spamming someone's inbox into oblivion, locking someone out of their email account by repeatedly trying to access it, signing people up to websites, etc., they may find offensive, robbery and threats of violence to make it much, much worse.

        That "sticks and stones" crap only works on confident kids with lots of friends and supportive parents who actually understand what being bullied is. To be a victim is to be alone, and that's what can drive a kid over the edge.

        I was bullied as a kid and as a grownup and each time it sucked. You can't bash your way out of it, but once I was able to stand up for myself against a workplace bully. I allowed her to really get going, shouting away, and began to move away from her, leading her to my boss's desk. The boss told her to shut up, end of problem. I had to do it a few times.

        Another colleague then took it upon herself to tell me how to do my job, a job she had never done herself... I quit when I realised that bullying was tolerated at that place as long as it wasn't too noisy. I quit.

        So yeah, I know the difference. The rest of us need to learn it, too.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 6:47am

          Re: Re: Re: Sticks and Stones.....

          No, I was bullied to the point of suicide like Brazenly Anonymous was.


          Clarification, I was bullied and I eventually came to the point of suicide, but these events were unrelated from each other.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 7:28pm

    What could go right and what could go wrong?

    As pointed out before, in the US we have a culture centered on oneself, egoistic with little regard to others, this mean in practice that children are learning all those traits from their parents and they will act accordingly, if they see the parents using force(physical or otherwise) they will do the exact same thing, they also will absorb all those egoistical traits imbued their social environments, and this should give pause to anyone who wants to make others responsible for another's actions. It will be used to punished the others.

    We like to think that all parents and children love each other so much that they would never do anything to harm that, this is not real life this is wishful thinking, life is messy, people hate each other for a great number of reasons and people do things to harm each other constantly.

    Mother walking into police stations to file pedo charges against her daughters boyfriend that becomes her future son in law, filling nuisance suits against a disaffect, spreading rumors and the list goes on, people really want to empower those people with laws?

    On the other hand it could stop some people from doing bad things, because they wouldn't want to harm others, now who believe that will be the majority?

    Sorry in my experience most people don't like each other and they all will try to get back at someone for one reason or another, even between friends this happens all the time, so I don't see the upside in enabling this type of crap to escalate.

    A car is something you can secure, a weapon is something you can secure, your children speaking is not.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 9:04pm

    wow - take a big bow Florida, you've out done yourself again.

     

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    mr. sim (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 9:52pm

    want to know why the usa has forty year old's living in their "mommies" spare room with their wife and kids? does anyone care to guess why this country has a huge gang problem amongst the kids and teens, it's connected and here's why. because they were coddled and told they were special, "they deserved" this or that, and spanking them or holding them accountable for their actions ooh no, that's child abuse.

    i went to school every day for three and a half years and got the crap kicked out of me by kids much much bigger than i was and guess what they never got punished. but i did for defending myself. i was held accountable at home and by the school for defending myself from a violent assault. i was raised to be punished for my own actions and not stand around saying "but but they did this...."

    a person is responsible for their own actions, if we prosecute teens and kids for crimes they committed saying they are competent enough to be put on trial, then we don't need to be prosecuting the parents. if Florida wants a new law then criminalize "the systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion and the usage of criminal charges for political bias, religious bias, or electoral benefit."

     

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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:24pm

    you folks are missing something very key here and its the aggravated stalking charge.

    in florida if a death occurs as a result of aggravated stalking- that opens the door for a 1st degree murder charge.

    which changes the entire landscape of the thing wouldnt you agree?

     

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      icon
      harbingerofdoom (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:35pm

      Re:

      and i forgot to add-
      in florida, its the prosecutor who decides if a teen is going to be charged as an adult and the last time i checked, the minimum age a defendant must be in order to be tried as an adult is........... you guessed it- 14.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:41pm

    Give me a break

    It is clear that the cyber is what scares them as it is new, they don't understand it, and it may as well be witchcraft to them. They clearly don' give a shit about bullying. Blind eyes towards the bullies in schools that just happen to notice when the victim does anything.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 2:20am

    Let's also charge the parents of the child that committed suicide with something. Because clearly it's everyone else's fault the child made a decision less than 0.00144% of the population makes.

    A decision that has a statistical 1 in 12 chance of actually succeeding, making it a follow through that less than 0.00012% of the population does.

    http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.s html

     

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    identicon
    BadassSailor, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    Hmm, how about we stop bullying by ending this "self esteem is the most important thing, let's give everyone a trophy" bullshit, and quit raising pussies.

    I was bullied, made me stronger, if you are such a loser you kill yourself over someone else being an asshole, the species is better off without you anyway.

     

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    identicon
    wildfire, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 11:13pm

    This would be a great news for everyone, having someone or some policies to protect children from this kind of treatment. Bullying has been the greatest problem that most children are facing in school;most of the bullied students are afraid to tell their parents that they are being bullied. Children suffer from various psychological and physical depression due to bullying; it may also lead to suicide at some point if it's getting worse. So parents should always take part on protecting their children in this kind of cruelty, I recommend as safety application on the phone that could monitor your children location because of its precise private GPS location using this app assure your child's safety even he is in school, the best part of it, just by pressing the panic button if your child is in harm it can create a conference call to a 24/7 call center, a safety network and can even escalate a call to 911 if it is a real emergency, it comes some good features that assure you and your love one's safety, just check it here http://safekidzone.com/#!/page

     

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  •  
    identicon
    sarah, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:45am

    testimony

    sarah
    My name is sarah and my ex-boyfriend dumped me 8 months ago after I caught him of having an affair with someone else and insulting him. I want him back in my life but he refuse to have any contact with me. I was so confuse and don't know what to do, so I visited the INTERNET for help and I saw a testimony on how a spell caster help them to get their ex back so I contact the spell caster and explain my problems to him..... he cast a spell for me and assure me of 3 days that my ex will return to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my peter came knocking on my door and beg for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that, we are about to get married. Once again thank you Moko spell caster, you are truly talented and gifted contact his email:dr.kokotemple@gmail.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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