Mark O'Mara pushes for parents to be charged in cyberbullying cases
Proposed bill comes after cyberbullying death of 12-year-old Polk County girl
Attorney Mark O'Mara says if parents don't stop their children from cyberbullying, they should be held accountable.
O'Mara, former Local 6 legal analyst and attorney for George Zimmerman, is speaking out after 12-year-old Katelyn Roman and 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw were arrested in connection to the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick after authorities found Facebook posts connecting them to harassment and stalking her.
O'Mara said he intends to move forward and draft a bill that would criminally charge parents who are "grossly negligent" and "willfully blind" of children are found guilty of cyberbullying. He said he hopes to get a state legislator interested in sponsoring it.
"We want these kids to get to 18 and be good responsible adults, but they're not going to get there if they cyberbully each other to death," O'Mara said.
The Polk County girls who allegedly bullied Rebecca were charged with aggravated stalking, but their parents, who allegedly knew of the bullying, never banned the girls from their computers and cellphones and were not arrested.
Sheriff Grady Judd said because Roman and Shaw's parents allegedly knew of the bullying but did nothing to stop it, they should be arrested too.
"But there's no obvious charges or we would have brought them," Judd said at a press conference last week.
"If a kid is doing something so horribly wrong that it causes damage to another child, not just death but damage, then I think a parent can be held criminally liable," O'Mara said.
O'Mara said he is not a fan of knee-jerk legislation, but says the Internet isn't going anywhere and needs to be regulated.