Two Girls Charged After Suicide Of 12-Year-Old Girl Who Was Bullied On The Internet

article-2420424-1BCF1102000005DC-539_634x502There 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.”

article-2462887-18C1E35700000578-522_306x423One 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?

67 thoughts on “Two Girls Charged After Suicide Of 12-Year-Old Girl Who Was Bullied On The Internet”

  1. We should draw a distinction between being a bully and being New Jersey. A bully picks on those weaker than he (or she). Stuffing it back in the face of the media does not constitute picking on someone weaker than you. It’s what passes for charm in the Garden State and is one of the reasons for Christie’s popularity. Media vs. politician is always a fair fight.

    More full disclosure: I am a son of the Garden State and know of what I speak.

    1. “More full disclosure: I am a son of the Garden State and know of what I speak.”

      Vincent,

      It’s funny but I have lots of family and friends in NJ and I find them not having that kind of Garden State charm as exemplified by Christie.

  2. It’s a bully off here this morning. Corzine tried to bully Christie w/ “He’s fat” ads and got it shoved up his elitist ass.

  3. Seems like the candidates for inmate of the month…. The proud parents should be charged as well….

  4. Vincent, I agree with your slippery-slope concerns but Christie is a poor poster-boy for the inappropriate use of the word bully. The first several times I saw him on the news I did not know or care what his party was but the first word that came into my mind was “bully”. He may be jovial when he’s making a point in a totally non-threatening venue but anyone that asks him a question, a question about something he doesn’t want to talk about, is in for a raft of rude and abusive vitriol. He’s thin skinned to say the least. He’s a bully.

  5. Full disclosure: I HATE BULLIES. Bullies rob kids of their youth; they impair the maturation of their victims; they negatively impact the educational process; they are petty; they are small. I could go on. In some cases, their actions lead to tragedy.

    When I was a youth, boys bullied and it was physical. Girls teased and it was verbal. Today, probably as an unintended consequence of gender equality, teasing has morphed into a form of bullying. Maybe this is a good thing, but physical bullying is easier for the legal system to deal with. An assault is an assault. It can be punished as an assault. When the bullying is verbal, things become more difficult. The slope from allowing legitimate speech to prohibiting verbal bullying is a slippery one.

    For example, the Democratic candidate for governor in New Jersey (whose name neither I nor anyone else can remember and who is destined to lose by a 2-1 margin in a state her party controls heavily) has, in a desperate attempt to demean her opponent Chris Christie has called Christie a bully. Christie, the rotund, jovial incumbent undoubtedly has, due to his girth, suffered from bullies in his youth. Surely, Christie did not physically bully his adversary. What could he have possibly said that could be considered verbal bullying that was not also legitimate political discourse?

    The legal system has difficulty dealing with bullying of the verbal kind. For example, in the Florida case, how do you punish adolescent girls when they act like adolescent girls? There are no easy solutions.

  6. Adults who smoke in front of children are encouraging them to smoke and that means encouraging suicide. Children who encourage others to smoke are encouraging others to be a dumb as their parents. Television is full of shows encouraging kids to smoke. This new one advertised constantly in TBS about the mob shows six different dorks smoking furiously. This will encourage punks who want to grow up to be adult punks to start smoking.
    The suicide thing would be of lessor consequence if the medical treatment that these smokers go through did not cost all the rest of us so much money.
    Teachers who smoke should be fired. Principals who smoke should be shot in public.

  7. Robin: “already at 14 she shows sociopathic behavior when it comes to relationships.”
    *

    Right, she’s a problem. I and others have argued on this forum that people’s brains are shown not to mature until their early 20s, that whole action-consequence network just isn’t fully formed. That builds in some slack based on age IMO. But when those terrible consequences are staring you in the face and you display no remorse? Maybe she needs some time in a medical facility where the doors lock from the outside.

  8. Juliet N. 1, October 17, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    They’re horrible, but they’re still children. REALLY HOW MANY CHILDREN DO THIS?

    the 14 year old went to the dead girls fb page after her death and posted and i quote” “”Yes ik (I know) I bullied Rebecca nd she killed her self but IDGAF (I don’t give a f–k),” the message read.

    Shaw’s parents have since argued that her daughter’s Facebook page was hacked because they actively monitor it and believe she wouldn’t write such a thing.

    lie number 1 if the parents actively monitored their childs computer activity it would never have gone this far

    The 12-year-old not only reported the abuse to her school, but when her mother felt enough wasn’t being done to help her daughter she was transferred to another school.

    Still, the bullying followed her in the form of cyber stalking say investigators.

    A search of Sedwick’s computer unveiled several messages from girls who among a number of heartless insults and cruel words encouraged her to go kill herself, authorities say.

    actually if all of the parents were monitoring their children this death would have never happened because there would be no little boy for them to be fighting over.. as each of them are to young to dating… BUT THIS LITTLE GIRL learned this behavior at home.. as they say about all kids.. already at 14 she shows sociopathic behavior when it comes to relationships.. when she reached adult hood it would have only been much worse she more then likely would be the type to kill any woman she thinks is interested in a man she is interested in. ex fatal attraction,, obsessed, sleeping with the enemy/.. yes they are movies but all movies are based on real life and we’ve seen the stories over and over again on investigation discovery so please dont attempt to act like im over reacting this scenario has already been played many many times

    1. Robin: All the things you mention are parental failures. Why should a CHILD — there’s a reason children are not held to adult standards, in most cases — be thrown away because her parents are useless? Maybe she will need to be incarcerated for life, but that’s a decision that needs to be made further down the road, after some intervention.

      I’ll also note that I find it incredible that someone who is so virulently anti-Semitic would be making value judgments about anyone else’s behavior. You ought to remove the log from your own eye, before you start digging around for a splinter in someone else’s.

    2. Vincent,

      I don’t know but I was bullied by many large, fat kids. I agree with LK, Christie has always seemed a bully to me.

  9. This is not murder, it is far worse. These little beasts programed Rebecca to kill herself, they introduced the idea suicide as a means of lessening the offence her existence posed to right thinking persons like themselves.

    One cannot say that suicide was the inevitable consequence of the bullying but one can say that the probability of suicide was significant. This behaviour should be prosecutable as murder.

  10. I am wondering if I commit suicide and leave a note blaming it on comments that i read on a social forum how successful my family would be to sue someone for their loss.

  11. there is only one way to deal with stuff as exhibited here, and elsewhere on this blog, such as the same day video of the off duty cop cuffing that women. I can’t believe that no one stands up. I will tell you now that I could not help myself from so doing.
    don’t know why, but I am wired that way. this shit only stops when people stand up in the face of it. all the talk in the world, including the (quite intellectual) talk on here does nothing. Acts carry the day and always have. Face it down every chance you get, or just learn to eat it. Life is, after all, nothing but a series of choices – binary really.

  12. Tragic as it may be the young girl was not forced to follow the insults on facebook. If everyone was held accountable for the feelings we cause everyone else we encounter we would all be in jail.

  13. This case makes me want to HIT someone…and I am a peaceful person at heart! Honestly, I can’t muster up any compassion for these 2 bullies! Lets face it they worked HARD at destroying Rebecca. I do not see these girls as to young to know what they were doing. They tormented this girl with relish and I think their faces should be plastered across every newspaper and they should be charged to the full extent of the law. Good point about guns not killing people, people do…and now we as a society have got to deal with those who use technology to kill people. It’s not about your freedom and civil rights…it’s about protecting the innocent!

  14. Mike S.,
    I have to disagree about the felony charges. These bullies, allegedly harassed this victim until she committed suicide. They can say whatever they want, but those words can have consequences.

    1. “Mike S.,
      I have to disagree about the felony charges.”

      Raff,

      I understand your position and acknowledge that what Rebecca went through and now her parents are going through is a horror. The girls though are 14 and 12. Remembering what it was like to be that age, even as a victim, I can’t say that they ever considered the consequences of their actions. No doubt they deserve some punishment, but the justice system would merely push them further into the direction they are heading. There needs to be a better method of dealing with this in my opinion. You must on one hand teach them what responsibility is, with the caveat though that few at those ages understand the concept. My preference would be supervised psychotherapy for a number of years and community service that might tech them some compassion.

  15. I would like to interrogate the parents of all three of the girls involved. Were psychotropic drugs involved? Had the girl that committed suicide been suffering from any level of depression and was she getting any help? What activities do all three of the girls participate in? We’re obviously doing something terribly because many of our children are having problems and prosecution children is not the solution. The patients have taken over the asylum.

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