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Ovation: Girls Charged In Case Of Bullied Girl Who Committed Suicide.

10/16/2013

Shaw and RomanOctober has been declared Bullying Prevention Month.  I’m not entirely certain who made this declaration but, like every other cause that gets a month’s worth of focus, I think every month should be Bullying Prevention Month.  Bullies suck.  Of course, there have always been mean people and I believe there will always be mean people because young bullies grow up to be adult bullies who set an example for their children who then become bullies themselves.

I have mixed feelings about Bullying Prevention Month.  I think that, particularly in the nation’s schools, increasing awareness of the harm that bullying causes can inadvertently become a class in How To Bully.  In some programs students become highly exposed to what a bully is and then learn what to do or say when questioned by parents or teachers so they can get away with it.  But when bullying leads to suicide, I think the bullies should be held accountable.

Two Florida girls, ages twelve and fourteen, have been charged with aggravated stalking for what Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd described as “maliciously harassing” a twelve-year-old girl who jumped from a tower to her death to avoid their constant bullying.  The middle school students were booked into a juvenile detention center and released to their parents under house arrest.

On September 10th, twelve-year-old Rebecca Sedwick jumped to her death from a third-story cement plant building in central Florida after being verbally, physically and cyber bullied throughout 2012 and 2013.  While gathering information from social media sites about the bullies’ interactions with Sedwick, investigators discovered a Facebook post by the fourteen-year-old which read “Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself, but I don’t give a (expletive)” and prompted the arrests.  In addition to the Facebook confession, both girls made “incriminating statements” when they were arrested.

The older girl started to torment Sedwick in 2012 and other children at the school joined in to avoid being bullied themselves.  The younger of the two arrested was Sedwick’s former best friend.  Sedwick’s mother removed her from the school but the bullying continued online where the older girl wrote terrible insults and told Sedwick that she should “kill herself” and “drink bleach and die”.

While bullying is not a crime, the two girls have been charged with aggravated stalking, a third degree felony, because the victim was younger than sixteen years old and their cases will proceed in the Florida juvenile system.  Their ultimate punishment is yet to be determined but Sheriff Judd has said “It won’t be severe enough, in my estimation, for this conduct.”

I hope this news travels fast … through every high school, middle school, Sunday school, scout troop, sports team, after-school club and family across the nation.  Maybe when children learn that their actions can have serious consequences they’ll think twice before bullying or tolerating bullies.

And not just in October.

UPDATE 10/19/13: Mother of Girl Charged in Florida Bullying Suicide Arrested on Unrelated Charges. 

UPDATE 11/20/13: Charges Dropped Against Girls In Florida Cyber-Bullying Suicide Case.

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From → Ovations

7 Comments
  1. Parents should be able to remove the bullied child from school (which this parent did) and the school district should pay for home tutoring (I cost a measly $15 an hour to my district). Only when they are hurt in the pocketbook will they stop telling kids to develop a thick skin. Unfortunately, for our tax dollars sakes, districts (some already do) will have to start monitoring social media and get their feet stuck in privacy issues and first amendment issues. But if the parents are going to raise such monsters then we have to protect our kids from them.

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  2. This breaks my heart. How can our kids become so sociopathic to even think that this is OK? I go back to what one of the 8th grade teachers told us parents – 8th graders are not very nice people, in general. Their hormones are flaring and brains are not fully developed. Then you add the technology and cyber intimidation becomes easy. A friend removed her daughter as noted above because of this. It takes a village and parenting.

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    • Surely, all kids don’t think bullying is OK. I firmly believe (always have and always will) that a child’s behavior is a direct reflection of their parent’s behavior. Everything a child learns throughout their early formative years is learned at home from their parents and/or siblings. The parents of the older girl, in this case, appear to be in complete denial. Why they let her continue to use social medial after the events of last September boggles my mind.

      I applaud Sheriff Judd and hope that the example he is setting by arresting these two girls doesn’t fall on deaf ears. It is my wish that this news spreads like wildfire and sparks conversations at dinner tables across the nation and around the world so that young people are reminded that their actions have consequences and parents are reminded that theirs do, too.

      Thanks for reading!

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      • I agree with your comments. The key is the parents need to act before, but definitely after. If I acted up in school, my mother and father would let me know about it as the teacher cued them in. It gets back to that football coach who suspended his entire team as a character lesson.

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        • Yes, I think that coach is also doing the right thing.

          I understand that the parents of the older girl are now saying that they weren’t aware of a problem. They claim that they monitored their daughter’s cell phone and Facebook usage and that they never received any indication from the school that their daughter had misbehaved. They’re in complete denial. The investigation has been ongoing since the suicide in September and their daughter posted a confession online just last Saturday. Although it’s unlikely, I hope the parents are charged with something and that they receive some sort of mandatory counseling.

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  3. If kids think it’s OK to bully other kids, then putting them on house arrest is useless. Where did they learn their lack of respect for another person? At home with parents too busy to monitor what their children were doing! House arrest just means you can’t see your friends face to face – with all the electronic methods of communication, most kids don’t see their friends face to face anyway! Make kids like this suffer – take away every social media device, including an old fashioned telephone) & make them do some volunteer work with people who have been bullied.

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    • I think parents should be held financially accountable for damage that their children do. If their wallets take a blow, they’ll be more likely to supervise their children.

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