More people getting behind push for new state law to crack down on bullying

LAKELAND, Fla. - Support is growing for a new anti-bullying law in Florida.

The push began after the tragic loss of Rebecca Sedwick, who committed suicide last year in Lakeland. Polk County deputies said she had been bullied prior to her death.

Earlier this year state lawmakers discussed a bill that defined a "bully" and laid out the punishment, but the movement fizzled.

"When I was a kid, I was bullied. I had a speech impediment. I stuttered," said Marc Wilkes, a motivational speaker who goes from school to school around the country spreading the anti-bullying message.

At 12-years-old, Wilkes discovered weight lifting as a way to escape his bullies and cope with the abuse.

Today he's turning his childhood experience into a full time job known as "Omega-man," a comic book superhero who kids can look up to during school assemblies.

"I do believe we need a law to raise greater awareness because as I travel across the country, I see it is getting out of hand," he said.

It's been about nine months since Rebecca jumped to her death from an old cement plant. Since then, she's been the face of the anti-bullying push locally and around the country.

Her mother, Tricia Norman, even traveled to Tallahassee asking for a new law.

Now another name continues the fight: Mark O'Mara, who became famous defending George Zimmerman.

In an op-ed published Tuesday on CNN.com, O'Mara writes that he will spend the next year campaigning to get the bill introduced to "protect the children who are victims of bullying."

"In my practice of family law and criminal defense, I know firsthand that while bullying may not be a crime, it can have devastating effects on young victims," he wrote.

Wilkes said if there was a state law back when he was in school, it would have eased some of the pain.

"I really feel by passing this law it's going to bring awareness, not just to the students and teens, but also to the parents," he said.
 

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