Wednesday, April 25, 2018
News Roundup

Teens held responsible for bullying? Sheriff got it right

The moment gave me pause: Grady Judd, the Florida sheriff who once said his officers shot at a suspect 110 times and hit him 68 because that's all the ammo they had, suddenly was making sense on the subject of justice.

This time around, Judd was explaining the recent arrests of two girls after the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick. The Lakeland seventh-grader jumped to her death from an abandoned cement plant silo after reportedly enduring months of Internet and other abuse.

The cyberbullying investigation was ongoing. But last weekend, the sheriff said, a 14-year-old girl considered a major player in the bullying posted an unrepentant Facebook message: Yes ik I bullied Rebecca nd she killed herself, it said, and then got worse with a profane version of I-couldn't-care-less. And the sheriff said enough.

The girl's parents have said her Facebook account must have been hacked. But if Judd believed he had probable cause to arrest her and a second girl, he was right — right to say this won't be tolerated, right to say it's a crime.

Some people will say that what happened to Rebecca — the suggestions that she kill herself, drink bleach, die — was kids being kids no matter how dark. That some kids push parameters and some get bullied. That this is life, and the exquisite wretchedness of being that age will finally pass at last.

But bullying that once meant getting tortured on the school bus on the way home is now on the Web for all to see, to pile on. It does not go away. The world has changed. Texts will find you.

In the November issue of GQ, failed politician and serial sexter Anthony Weiner opines that if this was 1955 "and the Internet didn't exist," he'd probably be mayor of New York now. (Instead of a perpetual Carlos Danger punch line.)

Debra Lafave, the too-pretty-for-prison teacher who had sex with a 14-year-old student, got a plea deal and probation instead of a trial. The boy's mother agreed, knowing gavel-to-gavel coverage of a trial on Court TV could haunt her son forever.

Even Lafave seemed to get it when she apologized at a news conference, saying the boy's "privacy has been violated — his picture has been on the Internet."

Yes, we should be especially leery of arrests meant to send a message, since justice is supposed to be about what the accused actually did and not some big-picture lesson for the rest of us.

But we're talking teenagers (and even near-teenagers, since Rebecca and the second girl arrested hadn't even made it to 13). They live in a bubble, until it bursts. Someone from their tribe facing aggravated stalking charges might be water on a rock, a slow and steady drumbeat about how potentially harmful this is.

And a sentence that includes talking to other kids about consequences would have the distinct ring of something coming from tragedy.

A postscript: This week, many reporters did not publish the names or mug shots of the two girls arrested because they are so young, a policy that says something about the human ability to grow, to change.

But some did, and so there they are — up on the Web for anyone to see, to comment on, to pile on, pretty much forever.

Comments
Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic walkoff homer celebration

Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic walkoff homer celebration

BALTIMORE – Carlos Gomez is perfectly willing to explain the specific elements that went into his epic celebration tour around the bases following Sunday's walkoff home run.The bat flip and raised arms were his initial reaction to how well he h...
Updated: 9 minutes ago

High school scoreboard for April 24

Tuesday’s scoreboardBaseballCalvary Chr. 8, Jesuit 1Boys TennisClass 3A, District 9-10 Regional Semifinal: Osceola 4, King 1Girls TennisClass 3A, District 9-10 Regional Semifinal: Osceola 4, Freedom 1...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

ST. PETERSBURG — Caps and gowns were in the future for Bryson Welton-Williams and his two friends.Then came Tuesday’s horrific car crash.The three 18-year-old Lakewood High School seniors drove off from school a few minutes early, just 22 days away f...
Updated: 2 hours ago
SRO being investigated in Pasco County for arrest of student

SRO being investigated in Pasco County for arrest of student

LAND O’LAKES — A school resource officer at Sunlake High School is under investigation after he tried to take a female student into custody on Tuesday, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.School officials asked the SRO remove the student f...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Teen killed after SUV runs red light; man who fled scene captured

Teen killed after SUV runs red light; man who fled scene captured

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 17-year-old girl was killed Tuesday when her car was hit by a sport-utility vehicle that ran a red light, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.One of the occupants of the SUV who ran from the crash scene was captured hours late...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Softball: Haley Murphy, East Bay back in top form

Softball: Haley Murphy, East Bay back in top form

PLANT CITY — East Bay senior Haley Murphy had to take a few games off early this season to give the flaring tendinitis in her left knee a rest.When Murphy did come back around midseason, East Bay coach Glenn Rodriguez eased her into the fl...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Sarasota student, family apologize for racist ‘promposal’

Sarasota student, family apologize for racist ‘promposal’

The family of the 18-year-old Sarasota high school student under fire for the racist prom proposal he sent out on social media this weekend has publicly apologized for their son’s actions.They also said that as a result of his actions, he will not at...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Softball: Boca Ciega gets a shot at defending district champ

DUNEDIN — Standing in centerfield during her team's Class 6A-9 district semifinal Tuesday night, Boca Ciega's Mia Blasingane had one dominating thought: "We want Tarpon Springs real bad. I was saying that to myself. I want to see Tarpon Springs...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Softball: Alonso knocks off defending state finalist PHU in 9A-8 semifinals

PALM HARBOR — To get an idea of just how tough the competition is in Class 9A, District 8, consider that there has been a different tournament champion each of the past three seasons.All three — Newsome (2015), Alonso (2016) and Palm Harb...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

BALTIMORE – If the Rays were going to get rained out Tuesday, they were happy  the Orioles made the decision at a good hour, around 5 p.m."I think they probably did the right thing in the fact that they knew there's a bunch of rain coming,...
Updated: 3 hours ago