Twelve year old Rebecca Sedwick climbed a tower and jumped to her death, committing suicide. As the investigation into her suicide continues the country is shocked about the depth and breadth of alleged cyberbullying that this teenage girl endured.
CBS News reported that Rebecca's mother Tricia Norman remembers one particularly cruel taunt, "'You haven't killed yourself yet,'" Norman recalled the message saying. "'Go jump off of a building.'" The bullying included according to the local sheriff taunts "to drink bleach and die" and saying she should kill herself," along with threats to beat Rebecca up. The alleged bullying incidents both online and in school reportedly occurred for months prior to Rebecca's suicide as a retaliation for Rebecca dating one of the group of "mean girls" boyfriends.
Following Rebecca's tragic death on September 9, 2013, one of the girls reportedly wrote on her Facebook page, "'Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but I don't give a ..." (edited for content). Additional reports of bullying include "beating" Rebecca up at school and encouraging up to as many as 15 other students to bully the teen girl both at school and online. At that point Rebecca's mother decided to homeschool her.
Two girls (ages 12 and 14), who reportedly where primarily responsible for the bullying, have been arrested and charged with stalking. There names and pictures in national news, though they have been locally, since they are juveniles.
The parents of one teen said "that their daughter would never write something like that and that the girl's Facebook page had been hacked." The 14 year old's parents claim "My daughter's a good girl and I'm 100 percent sure that whatever they're saying about my daughter is not true." Her parents continue to claim her innocence, stating, "No, she wouldn't write anything like that. She's not that type of girl that would just say something like that," her mother said. Reportedly showing no remorse she remains in juvenile custody.
In an interview with ABC news the younger girls parent stated, "I feel horrible about the whole situation," he said. "It's my fault, maybe that I don't know more about that kind of stuff. I wish I did." The younger teen was released into her parents custody.
But it's not just the juveniles in this case that are being investigated. Authorities are considering whether their parents should be charged too, USA Today reports.
"I'm aggravated that the parents aren't doing what parents should do," Sheriff Judd told reporters. "Responsible parents take disciplinary action."
At this time there doesn't appear to be any charges that can be filed. Sheriff Judd says that the older teens parents are in "total denial" as evidenced by their allowing their daughter continued Facebook account use even after knowing about the bullying.
"They don't think there is a problem here, and that is the problem," he said. Judd added that the girl's parents gave her back her Facebook access even after learning about her alleged bullying of Rebecca. "That's terrible," he said. "That's why we moved fast to lock their daughter up."
If charged this could be a landmark case against bullying should the courts also hold the parents responsible. Could that be the catalyst needed to make a serious change in how bullying and cyberbullying is seen? Maybe even stop the "kids will be kids" excuses?
What do you think? Should parents be held responsible?