There are two arrests in Florida after the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick (left) who was bullied on the Internet, including at least one mocking posting by one of the girls after the suicide. The two girls (aged 14 and 12) have been charged with felonies.
One of the suspects went to the same school with Sedwick and had been dating Sedwick’s former boyfriend. The boyfriend has since gone public to criticize the two girls. The other girl was once Sedwick’s best friend. The older suspect allegedly organized other kids to hound and abuse Sedwick. Up to 15 kids harassed Sedwick. Comments ranged from “drink bleach and die” to “You should die” and “why don’t you go kill yourself?” According to reports, the night before Rebecca killed herself, she messaged a friend that, “I’m jumping. I can’t take it anymore.”
One of the girls went to Facebook after the suicide to say that she didn’t care about the suicide. Police say that, despite being contacted in the case, the parents continued to allow their girls to use Facebook. The girls, ages 12 and 14, have been charged with felony aggravated stalking. The father of the 14-year-old told media that his daughter was “a good girl” and he was “100 percent sure that whatever they’re saying about my daughter is not true.” The prosecutor has said that he would arrest the parents if he could. The question is whether the parents of the victim will sue the parents of the suspects in torts as a civil matter.
The charges for some will renew the anger over the lack of any conviction for Lori Drew who pushed a young girl to suicide by tricking her on the Internet into believing there was a young boy in love with her and then dumped her.
This case also raises an interesting question of journalistic ethics. While other sites have released the photos and names of the girls (since the prosecutor did so as individuals charged with felonies), other sites have withheld the information due to their age. The question is whether, in light of the public release of the names and mugshots by the prosecutors, the information should be made available to readers or censored out of this and other sites. It is an ironic protection given the accusation against the girls of organizing a group of girls to hound Rebecca. Yet, these are very young girls who are normally protected from public disclosures in criminal cases.
What do you think?