Two girls, ages 12 and 14, have been charged with aggravated stalking for what a Florida sheriff described Tuesday as “maliciously harassing” a 12-year-old girl who jumped from a tower to her death.  The middle school students were booked into a juvenile detention center on Monday night and released to their parents under house arrest.

Rebecca Sedwick, 12, jumped to her death from a third-story cement plant structure in central Florida on Sept. 10 after being verbally, physically and cyber bullied throughout 2012 and 2013.

At a Tuesday news conference, investigators were in the midst of gathering information from social media sites about the bullies’ interactions with Sedwick, but a Facebook post by the 14-year-old which read, “yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself, but I don’t give a (expletive),” prompted Monday’s arrests.

Detectives also arrested the 12-year-old, who was one of Sedwick’s “primary” bullies, because they decided, “We can’t leave her out there.  Who else is she going to torment, who else is she going to harass?”

While bullying is not a crime, the girls have been charged with aggravated stalking — a third-degree felony — because the victim was younger than 16 years old.

In addition to the 14-year-old’s Facebook confession, both girls made “incriminating statements” when they were arrested.  The girls’ case would proceed in the juvenile system and any punishment would depend on juvenile sanctions.

The 14-year-old started to “torment” Sedwick in 2012 and according to a Polk County Sheriff’s statement, other children at the school also started bullying Sedwick to avoid being bullied themselves.  The 12-year-old was Sedwick’s former “best friend.”

Sedwick’s mother removed her daughter from the school, but the bullying continued online, where the 14-year-old wrote harassing insults, including that Sedwick should “kill herself” and “drink bleach and die”

I have repeatedly written against “bullying” and these vicious attacks by groups of teenagers and pre-teens against a common victim has to stop.  If the parents of these kids are not properly teaching their children that bullying is wrong, than society has to address this issue through tougher laws.  Maybe when we enact a national law against bullying and also charge these abusive people with major penalties, this will become a thing of the past.

Secondly, if the bullying continued online, why did the mother not turn off the computer so the vicious messages stopped?  She bares a level of responsibility because she did nothing to prevent the bullying from continuing.  We, as parents need to monitor what our children are doing on their computers and if your child is being bullied or is bulling someone else, then we need to act swiftly to end it.

This is not kids being kids.  This behavior is mean-spirited and ruthless and will not stop until the fear of reprisal forces these kids to stop.  There has always been some form of bullying in school, but social media and PC’s have made it relentless.

 

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