Incidents of bullying gone too far are rampant across Florida and across the United States. There was a time that a child who was bullied had a respite from the attack when he left school. But in today’s digital age, bullying extends far outside classroom walls. Kids who are bullied at school go home to find offensive text messages, Facebook posts, and emails waiting for them. Recent cases of such bullying have caused some kids to commit suicide in the face of the attacks. Still others have tried to fight back.
Such was the case of 17-year-old Steven Goldberg of Jupiter. Goldberg was the victim of high school bullying. He received threats that he would be beaten up and even killed. Then, nine teens showed up at his door, when he was home alone. Frightened and not knowing what to do, he went into his father’s gun safe, grabbed a rifle, and opened fire, striking two of the nine kids.
Goldberg was initially charged with attempted murder for his actions and he sat in jail for 288 days. It wasn’t until the threatening messages and the acts of bullying were uncovered that he was released. Prosecutors lowered the charges to aggravated battery with a firearm and Goldberg plead guilty to the reduced charges. He was sentenced as a youthful offender and placed on probation.
Normally, for a charge of aggravated battery with a firearm, where the person discharged the firearm and caused serious bodily injury to another, there would be a twenty-five year minimum mandatory sentencHowever, when a person is sentenced as a youthful offender, this minimum sentence doesn’t apply. In order to qualify for a youthful offender sentence, a person must be 18-21 years of age at the time of sentencing, never previously sentenced as a youthful offender, and the charge must not be a capital or life felony.
Goldberg’s situation is unfortunate and far too common in this era of digital bullying. Parents would be wise to monitor their child’s cell phone usage, Facebook profile, and email accounts to make sure they are not being bullied—and that they’re not bullying another child.