aggravated stalking, anti-bullying, arrested, bullies, bullies arrested, bullies suck, bully, Bullying, bullying prevention, bullying prevention month, consequences of bullying, consequences of cyber bullying, Cyber-bullying, Florida, florida juvenile system, grady judd, guadalupe shaw, juvenile, katelyn roman, maliciously harassing, middle school student, october, online bullying, polk county, punishment for bullies, rebecca sedwick, school safety, students, Suicide
Ovation: Girls Charged In Case Of Bullied Girl Who Committed Suicide.
October 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.
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