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Mom criticizes school district's bullying policy

Lakeland, FL -- While reacting to news of the two arrests following her daughter Rebecca Sedwick's suicide, Tricia Norman issued some stinging criticism aimed at the Polk School district.

School officials, she said, were as much to blame as anyone for "not taking Rebecca's reported bullying seriously enough."

Norman was eventually so fed up that she pulled her daughter Rebecca out of classes at Crystal Lake Middle school and began to home school her instead.

But Norman says it should never have come to that.

"They just didn't take it seriously enough," she said while reacting to news of two arrests stemming from the relentless bullying that led to her daughter's suicide.

Norman said the school system had failed Rebecca as much as anyone.

"I think the school, in particular, didn't take it serious enough. Because 'Becca was told several times that she needed to 'adapt' to her surroundings. That she needed to develop a thicker skin. She just needed to ignore them," she said.

Norman says she eventually pulled Rebecca out of school, but the cyber-bullying continued.

On Tuesday, Polk detectives announced the arrests of 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw and 12 year-old Katelyn Roman.

More than a month after Rebecca jumped to her death from an abandoned cement silo, investigators saw a heartless online post - callously boasting about it.

"They gotta stop bullying. Why you gotta bully somebody?" said John Borgen, the young boyfriend at the center of the girl's ongoing argument.

Borgen told 10 News he agreed the whole thing should never have gotten so far out of hand.

"They need to stop just, like, playing around," said Borgen.

"I cannot imagine what Rebecca's mom is going through," said Nancy Woolcock. Woolcock is the Polk Schools Assistant Superintendent who is in charge of the district's anti-bullying program.

Woolcock sympathized, but defended the measures the district takes to prevent and quickly address bullying... including, she says, in Rebecca's case.

"Well, Crystal Lake did do the investigation. And there were class changes, a suspension and referral to law enforcement," she said.

But Woolcock says after Rebecca was removed for homeschooling, they had no official record of any further bullying complaints; not reported by her mother, her friends, or anyone.

"It's available online, or there could have been other students at the school or other places that knew what was going on and have access to report."

"But there wasn't one?" asked 10 News reporter Eric Glasser.

"No, not to my knowledge there was not," replied Woolcock.

School officials say their part in this case is not over yet. They too were "appalled" by the heartless social media post over the weekend.

The district is waiting for the Polk County sheriff's office to complete its investigation before deciding whether Shaw or Roman will face additional discipline at the school level as well.

You can read more about your school district's bullying policy by clicking the links below:

Hillsborough County

Pinellas County

Polk County

Pasco County

Manatee County

Sarasota County


Bullying Prevention tips from the FL Department of Education

SafeCircles- Tricia Norman launches online social media site that protects registered users from bullying. Click here for a tutorial.


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Arrests made- 2 girls arrested after bullying victim's suicide 

Rebecca's mom speaks after teen arrests in bullying suicide case

Sedwick's former boyfriendSpeak up if you see bullying

Mother says school district could have done more to stop bullying

PHOTOS: Rebecca Sedwick's story 


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