The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

November 6, 2013

Criminal case puts focus on bullying laws

WASHINGTON — Once considered a teenage rite of passage, bullying is now the subject of hundreds of state laws and a rallying cry for pundits, parents and celebrities.

The stakes are high — many teens who commit suicide experienced at least some bullying. Bullying by itself does not cause suicide, according to a research review conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But researchers found that youth who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, think about suicide and actually attempt suicide.

Coming up with a workable plan to stop bullying has proven difficult. The approaches are all over the map. For instance, Illinois requires schools to do social-emotional learning exercises to prevent bullying. During the exercises, students describe their emotions during a stressful event or recognize the emotional reactions to stress.

On the punishment side, five states don’t have any sanctions for bullying in their anti-bullying laws, while 12 states include a criminal sanction for bullies, ranging from school suspension to jail time, according to an analysis of state bullying laws from the Cyberbullying Research Center.

Montana is the only state with no law to address bullying.

The criminal side of these laws is generating controversy in Florida. Two young central Florida teens are facing felony aggravated stalking charges for bullying a 12-year-old classmate, Rebecca Sedwick, who committed suicide. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the bullying crossed the line from teen meanness into criminal harassment.

Sedwick received text messages and online messages from the two teens telling her to kill herself and that she should “drink bleach and die.” Sedwick was also physically attacked by the two girls, according to the sheriff’s department.

“Bullying shouldn’t be a law enforcement issue … but when it becomes a crime, we have to become involved,” Judd said in an interview with WBUR’s “Here and Now” radio show. Sedwick had been hospitalized after a suicide attempt in 2012 and also changed schools, but the bullying continued online.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • ND deputy hurt in scuffle Suspect charged with assaulting, trying to disarm law officer

    July 28, 2014

  • Fergus Falls plans deer hunt Hunters are selected by a lottery, pay $20 fee

    July 28, 2014

  • Man killed in home invasion Homeowner's son in Ray, Minn., fires fatal shot

    July 28, 2014

  • Charges filed in July 8 fatal Dodge Center woman criminally charged in fatal car crash

    July 28, 2014

  • American doctor in Africa gets treatment for Ebola BOONE, N.C. (AP) — An American doctor infected with the deadly Ebola disease received intensive treatment Sunday in West Africa and was in stable condition, talking to his medical team and working on his computer, a spokeswoman for an aid group said.

    July 27, 2014

  • Salmonella Outbreak Trial [Duplicate] Trial in salmonella outbreak to start in Georgia ATLANTA (AP) — Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georg

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitfalls emerge in health insurance renewals WASHINGTON — For the 8 million people who persevered through all the technical travails in the new health insurance exchanges and managed to sign up for coverage in 2014, their policies will probably automatically renew come November when open enroll

    July 27, 2014

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Sunday agreed to observe a 24-hour truce in Gaza after initially rejecting a similar Israeli offer, as fighting resumed and the two sides wrangled over the terms of a lull that international diplomats had hoped c

    July 27, 2014

  • Solar car race to end at University of Minnesota MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A cross-country solar car race is set to finish at the University of Minnesota on Monday. About 10 solar cars from colleges around the world are competing in the eight-day, 1,700-mile American Solar Challenge. The race began July

    July 27, 2014

  • Dozens of oil trains pass through Minnesota weekly Railroad documents released by the state Department of Public Safety show about 50 trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota are passing through Minnesota each week.

    July 26, 2014