Florida State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
Florida State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, has filed a bill in the Florida Legislature that will make it a crime to bully others. Sen. Simmons admitted that kids bullying other kids has happened since the beginning of time, but what happened to a Lakeland teenager moved him to action.
"They haven't done it to the level of causing to commit suicide."
Rebecca Sedwick, 13, killed herself after being tormented for months at school and on line. Simmons says this bill would make bullying a first degree misdemeanor.
"It's going to be the kind of conduct that is going to be relentless, continuing, and by any stretch of the imagination transcends that which would be acceptable in a civil society."
Simmons is a strong believer that Florida law is not keeping up with the digital age in all aspects, and he does not want people to use anonymity and free speech rights to be used to drive others, especially children to suicide.
"They can truly and relentlessly bully another person, even to the point of causing that other person to commit suicide. All we're trying to do is put some boundaries on people, not impinge upon free speech at all, but we all know. It's sort of like obscenity. You know it when you see it."
Simmons took the language for his bill against bullying straight from the current stalking statutes and firmly believes that it will not allow over zealous parents to get police to haul 10 year olds off the playground every time an incident happens. He stresses that the actions of someone must be continuous and without cause for the statute to apply.