Parents of a Texas teenage girl who appeared on an Instagram page dubbed “2014 Klein Hoes” are striking back against the young creators of the hateful, bullying page. The 16-year-old girl, who is not being named, was humiliated and bullied after being targeted by the photo-sharing page.
The fed-up parents are now taking legal action against all seven of the Klein High School male students who created the page, suing them for libel, as well as their parents for negligence, reports Yahoo! Shine on Friday.
“She was actually crying. She had her cell phone with Instagram, saying, ‘I can’t believe someone has done this to me,’” said the teen’s mom Shellie Tingle-Esquivel. “It’s changed her life tremendously.”
The derogatory and sexually explicit page, which was up for about three weeks and had over 900 followers before it was taken down, reportedly featured several female students, some of whom were even topless. The nude photos could lead to additional charges of child pornography, prosecutors have said.
“We’re being super aggressive about it, because this behavior really needs to stop,” said Houston-based attorney Tej Paranjpe, who is representing parents Reymundo Esquivel and Shellie Tingle-Esquivel.
The Instagram page is the talk of the school, located in Klein, Texas, approximately 30 miles from downtown Houston.
Yahoo! called the legal approach an “unusual one.” According to Dr. Justin Patchin, criminal justice professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and co-director of the national Cyberbullying Research Center, most suits are brought against the school administrators, not the individual offenders.
“What’s more common is parents suing the school for failing to respond appropriately,” Patchin said.
Tingle-Esquivel said that while they appreciate the support they are receiving from the school, the situation was not addressed properly or timely. Despite moving several of the offending students into different classes apart from their daughter, the school did not bother to force the closure of the Instagram page, despite knowing it existed, said the exasperated mom.
Commenting on the vulgarity and explicit nature of the comments on the page, Tingle-Esquivel said, “I wouldn’t even be able to begin to say anything that would even be appropriate to post on TV.”
Fellow student Sara Farag referred to the page as more of a popularity contest, and much like other social media sites, those who are omitted are seen as outcasts.
“All of the most popular girls at school get put on the Klein Hoes page,” Faraq said at the time. “Everybody that’s everybody gets put on the page.”
Faraq acknowledged however that the photos opened the door to relentless bullying.
“Everybody wants to be on there, but it’s so mean what they actually write about the people,” she said.
Tingle-Esquivel says the suit is an important step and sets a legal precedent with regards to cyberbullying, an act that has already led to dozens of young high-schoolers in the U.S. to take their own lives.
“Can you put a price tag on someone’s life?” she asks. “No, you cannot.”