It is National Bullying Prevention Month as well as National Cyber Safety Awareness Month.
The suicide of 12 year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick stunned the entire nation and paralyzed our state of Florida, again, with the stigma of being home to yet another death of a youth gone too soon.
Today Sheriff Judd of Polk County announced the arrest of two young girls, 12 and 14 years-old. Both have been charged with felony aggravated stalking.
According to the Associated Press, the 14-year-old girl was accused of threatening to beat up Rebecca while they were sixth-graders, telling her "to drink bleach and die" and saying she should kill herself, the sheriff said. The older girl convinced the younger girl to bully Rebecca, and they both repeatedly intimidated her, called her names and once the younger girl even beat Rebecca up, police said.
In the same report the father of the 14-year-old girl is convinced that his daughter is innocent.
"My daughter's a good girl and I'm 100 percent sure that whatever they're saying about my daughter is not true," he said.
Another disturbing note is the report states the 14-year-old is exhibiting no emotion and her demeanor is cold towards what is happening.
This brings many questions to the surface. Many parents are not aware of what their children are doing, especially online.
One thing is for sure, the Internet is unforgiving and there is no rewind online. If these teens and pre-teen (12-year-old) post these horrific notes on Facebook chances are very good her digital footprint (keystrokes) will be following them.
Are the parents to blame?
That is a tough question and no one can truly answer it. Parents need to be responsible for their children. This includes giving them a foundation that starts at home. Empathy, respect and family values.
Have you thought about if these girls that harassed Rebecca turned those harsh words into kind ones. What if they decided to tell her that she looked nice, or her hair was pretty, or they liked her shirt? Is it really that difficult to be kind?
Peer cruelty cuts through people - no matter what age you are. Take the time to learn more about My Kindness Counts. Spread it each day.
St. Johns County is proud to bring you the Community Empowerment Series again. Be sure to save the date. We will be discussing bullying, cyberbullying, peer cruelty, stranger danger (online and off), body image and more. There will be national speakers and authors joining us. Don't miss this day - bring your kids, ages 8 and up. Sign up for the workshops, to be posted soon.
Should these girls face the consequences? In my opinion, absolutely. It is about time Florida sends a strong message and if the evidence proves these girls sent/posted these cruel messages, let the law prevail.
Should the parents face charges?
What are your thoughts?