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Girl's Suicide Could Hasten Crackdown on Cyber-Bullying

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who last week arrested two middle-school girls for their role in the suicide of a third, has a message for bullies and their parents:

"When are we going to stand up, as a society, and say, 'Bullying is unacceptable and there are consequences?'"

Last week Sheriff Judd charged 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw and 12-year-old Katelyn Roman with felony aggravated stalking for their role in the suicide of Rebecca Sedwick, who jumped to her death at an abandoned cement plant in Lakeland in September.

Judd said Shaw led as many as 15 girls in bullying Sedwick in person until she switched schools, and then in sending her months of hate-filled cyber-messages: "You’re ugly." "Why are you still alive?" "Go kill yourself."The 12-year-old's suicide came just weeks after a new law went into effect, adding cyber-bullying to the public school system's list of banned behavior.

State Senator Bill Montford is also CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

"Most of the superintendents welcomed this law, because they knew it was a problem and they needed the legal authority to reach out and do something about it", Montford said.

State Senator Dwight Bullard, a sponsor of the measure, said Rebecca's suicide would speed its implementation.

"I kind of wish that we had had and implemented this bill a couple of years ago, and hopefully, could have saved a life", Bullard said. "But looking forward, the hope of what's in place is going to prevent similar circumstances from happening other to children."