Teenager who killed herself over cyberbullying sparks soul searching in US

Two Florida girls have been arrested for the vicious cyberbullying of a 12-year-old girl who killed herself after one of her alleged tormentors apparently boasted about her role online. This is from the Telegraph

Rebecca Sedwick’s mobile phone was the window to her virtual world, but also the door to her cyber-torment. And on her last morning alive, the 12-year old Florida child used the device a final time, changing her identity on a message sharing application to “That Dead Girl” before sending a farewell note to two friends.

Then, instead of going to school, she made her way to an abandoned cement works on the edge of hometown of Lakelands, Florida, climbed a tower and jumped to her death.

Rebecca’s suicide has unleashed a bout of soul-searching about the unregulated and unruly terrain where many children now live out so much of their lives.

She is among the youngest victims driven by the debilitating scourge of online bullying to take their own lives. That those sending her hate-filled messages were equally fresh-faced girls is all the more shocking.

“It was clear that Rebecca was being absolutely terrorised online when we looked at the messages she was receiving,” Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County told The Telegraph.

His officers have now arrested two girls, aged 14 and 12, who they suspect were responsible for the worst of the bullying after the older one of them apparently boasted about her role in a Facebook posting.

Mr Judd told local media that Guadalupe Shaw wrote: “Yes ik [I know] I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF [I don’t give a f—]”.

The 14-year-old reportedly told deputies that her account was hacked and said that she did not write the posting.

Rebecca’s mother Tricia Norman knew that in the past her daughter had been baited horribly at school and online after a dispute over a boyfriend. So she closed down Rebecca’s Facebook account, temporarily confiscated her phone, changed its number and even moved her to a different school.

What she did not know was that her daughter’s agony was continuing in a world of social media and messaging applications that are wildly popular with many children but a mystery to most adults.

This rapidly shifting landscape is challenging territory to even tech-savvy parents who may have worked out how sites such as Facebook and Twitter work, only for their children to disappear into the latest crevice of the internet.

Mr Judd said that one of the sites hosting the venomous tirades against Rebecca was ask.fm. It is the same Latvian-based social networking site on which Hannah Smith, a 14-year-old British girl, received relentless abuse from anonymous messagers before killing herself, according to her family…

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Another deeply disturbing case of cyberbullying and particularly noteworthy that the mother thought she was on top of the situation but was unaware of the network of messaging platforms being used, including ask.fm. Once this kind of thing kicks off, how can parents and/or schools put an end to it? Please let us know you advice in the comments or on twitter… 

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Categories: Parenting.

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