Two middle school girls arrested after bullied girl’s suicide
Two middle school girls were arrested by Florida authorities Monday evening and charged with felony Aggravated Stalking in connection with the case of 12 year old Rebecca Sedwick, who committed suicide in September.
Sedwick took her own life after months of alleged bullying, which included cyberbullying.
From USA Today:
Florida authorities have arrested two girls — 12 and 14 — on felony charges for allegedly taunting and bullying a 12-year-old girl who jumped to her death last month from an abandoned cement factory tower.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters Tuesday that one of the suspects had posted a message on the Internet saying that the victim should “drink bleach and die.”
Rebecca Sedwick, of Lakeland, Fla., who died Sept. 9, was “terrorized” by as many as 15 girls who picked on her for months through online message boards and texts, according to authorities. Some of the girls’ computers and cellphones were seized in the investigation.
Authorities said they moved more quickly on the arrests than they’d initially planned, because they worried that one of the girls would move on to a new victim after a social media posting that showed lack of remorse. “Yes ik [I know] I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF [I don’t give a f***],” said the posting, according to USA Today.
Authorities believe that the bullying was likely a contributing factor in Sedwick’s fateful decision to take her own life.
From the NY Daily News:
“Detectives have determined that on Sept. 10, 2013, Rebecca Sedwick committed suicide by jumping from a concrete silo tower to her death, and that the malicious harassment by (the 12-year-old girl) and [the 14 year old] was likely a contributing factor in Rebecca’s decision to commit suicide,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Witnesses told investigators that [the 14 year old] harassed Sedwick by calling her ugly, told her to “drink bleach and die,” and suggested that she should kill herself. [The 14 year old]’s animosity may have stemmed from the fact that a boyfriend of hers had previously dated Sedwick.
“Several students corroborated stories of both girls bullying Sedwick on different occasions, through name-calling, intimidation, threats to beat her up and at least one actual physical fight,” the sheriff’s office said. ” [The 14 year old] also reportedly bullied anyone who was friends with Rebecca.”
The police statement recounts physical altercations between Sedwick and the two girls as well. It also indicates that the 14 year old girl alleged to have been the primary bully “reportedly bullied anyone who was friends with Rebecca. For this reason, some children did not want to be friends with Rebecca, out of fear of being bullied by [the 14 year old].”
The sheriff spoke on the above video about the responsibility of parents in such instances.
Ladies and gentlemen, when it comes to cyberbullying, and a lot of this occurred online, when it comes to cyberbullying, it’s very very important that parents understand they’re the first line of defense for either the person being bullied or the person doing the bullying. Responsible parents check and balance, they follow up with their kids and when they see that kind of conduct, they take disciplinary action. Instead, [the 14 year old’s] parents didn’t do that and she was free to post this, even though she said she was hacked, of course we don’t believe that.
I have to say, these cases always cause me to feel very conflicted.
On one hand, some bullying can in fact be especially vicious and psychologically taxing on anyone, let alone a young girl. It’s not always as simple as just turning off the phone and computer and ignoring what’s being posted. Often it’s more about a pattern of repeated harassment that does not relent and interferes with a person’s ability to carry out normal functions in life. In Sedwick’s case, she had reportedly changed schools to try and escape the alleged harassment.
On the other hand, this always gets into issues of speech and liberties.
In addition, there are other complications when a suicide is involved. Determining contributing factors in such tragic circumstances isn’t always so straight-forward.
I don’t know all the specifics of what was said or posted by the alleged bullies in this specific case, I only know what I’ve read in news reports since last month and in the police statements. The investigation is still ongoing. So it’s still too early for me to feel comfortable forming any opinion one way or another on the matter.
Separate and apart from this case though, I tend to think the cyberbullying issues in the long run are better handled by culture changes and responsible parents who instill good values in their kids and get involved in what they’re doing, rather than by laws. Bullying isn’t a new problem. It probably receives more attention now because of the relatively new emergence of social media, where it can be more widely observed. While existing laws can often be applied to the more serious cases, there will always be an outcry for more laws unless the culture does start to change. And as we know, laws can sometimes have some unfortunate unintended consequences.
Note: while police and news reports use the names of the 12 and 14 year olds charged, I have opted not to use the names here, hence the substitutions.
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Iowahawk recommends these girls should be made to stand up in court and read every single word they wrote about the deceased girl – out loud – for the record.
There is a movie called Cyberbully about this topic. I recommend it.
That will not work with a sociopath or with someone who is fully supported by her mother.
I’m pretty sure those are the same. I wonder if Norman Bates was supported by his mother (he seemed to be, as I recall).
Wasn’t Norman Bates’ mother the corpse in the rocking chair?
It’s been a while since I saw the movie, but I think Norman killed Mommy Dearest because he was tired of her bullying him.
Yeah, the dead girl’s parents, with a couple of Louisville Sluggers might get their point across. That kind of eye-for-an-eye, Old Testament, common-sense justice might re-sensitize the current crop of disconnected little cyber-punks.
From what I’m reading, the parents are the cause. You’ll have to smack them with a clue by four first.
oops, ‘liked’ when don’t. Cyberbully was a total propaganda movie on so many levels.
” police and news reports use the names of the 12 and 14 year olds charged”
Isn’t that unusual when all involved are minors?
Unusual up to the point that charges have been leveled, and the investigation is complete. They may be charged as adults in this case? (I remember a 14-year old being charged as an adult in a mock wrestling circumstance resulting in death case in Florida some years ago). In which case the restrictions usually placed upon minors are not applicable.
Middle School girls are savages. They form packs and attack the weaker girls. And, the parents are either oblivious or in denial.
I’m with Mandy on this one. I know that two wrongs do not make a right.
Bullying is something I experienced myself growing up, but I learned to deal with it, and it made me stronger for being able to endure it. Suicide is never the answer, and I’ve been depressed enough before to think about it as well, but then my rational mind takes over.
You cannot solve problems ever by running away from them, but you should never have to face such problems alone. I think the parents communicating with children to let them know that bullying is something they should report to them, so that the child does not feel alone is a big factor here.
Where were the parents of this 12 year old who was so terrorized that she took her own life?
The sheriff puts some responsibility on the parents of the bullies, but some of this not-so-benign neglect falls upon the parents of the victim as well.
“The sheriff spoke on the above video about the responsibility of parents in such instances.
Ladies and gentlemen, when it comes to cyberbullying, and a lot of this occurred online, when it comes to cyberbullying, it’s very very important that parents understand they’re the first line of defense for either the person being bullied or the person doing the bullying. Responsible parents check and balance, they follow up with their kids and when they see that kind of conduct, they take disciplinary action. Instead, [the 14 year old’s] parents didn’t do that and she was free to post this, even though she said she was hacked, of course we don’t believe that.”
The situation is horrendous, anyway you look at it, but I’m not sure the criminal justice system will ever be the deterrent that an old fashioned spanking should have been, long before it came to this point.
It appears the bullied girl’s mother did everything possible including changing her school and going to law enforcement. The bullies parents would not even take them in for questioning so they were arrested. There was also evidence that they were moving on to their next victim. Neighbors of the older girl (14) said the siblings acted like animals too roughing up neighborhood kids and a teenage brother cursing out adults and threatening them. None were surprised when the police hauled her off. This seems to be a mental health issue of this bully’s family and probable neglect of proper socialization. She may be a psychopath. Her father said she was a “good” girl.
Did she take away the computer? Did she request of the parents of her daughters friends that their daughters not engage Ina certain amount of schadenfreude by not telling her daughter of the nasty things people were saying about her online.
People need to toughen their children up. Really. This is where helicoptering, hyper parenting , not letting things hurt our children gets us: the child doesn’t know how to cope with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune anymore.
Parents need to get back to “shit happens” and teaching their children to cope when “shit happens”, without committing suicide.
This whole thing is outrageous all around because it need not gave happened.
Yeah, she did this most of those things. Which if you dug a little you would find. The police were very clear, they could not have arrested anyone for mere bullying, they arrested them for felony aggravated stalking. The behaviour of these girls went beyond sticks and stones.
If you actually dug a little you would find these girls engaged in PHYSICAL harrasment and intimidation as well, which the school did not resolve.
Society has changed, generally not for the better. Laying blame on the mother who did everything she could instead of at the feet of the young sociopaths who engaged in the behaviour which caused their arrest doesn’t really help nor address the real issues.
Weighing in. Parents. Parents are responsible. If people have children, they have to be responsible for the kiddies (be the kids victims or aggressors) until some age deemed adult –18 seems too young to me). 21? 26?
Procreators should be legally responsible for the effects their offspring create.
It doesn’t “take a village ” It takes a parent. Ideally 2 parents.
Most of the bullying and cyber bullying was talk, aka words, that humiliated, threatened, and so on. Yes, there was an instance of a fight, aka sticks and stones.
The sheriff also said that most of the bullying was cyber. IOW, the charge included the primary means of the behavior.
I’m not overly impressed with a mother who allows a 12-year old to date, and who expects the school to take care of a problem like this because there is little schools can do to stem such behavior. The remediation for such properly belongs with the parents, and if the parents fail to act, the police.
So, do you approve of my reading comprehension now? Did I delve deeply enough? Is what I’m saying here significantly different from what I said before? I don’t think so. So, you go ahead and take umbrage with my attitude to the problem, which is, I think, the real source of your discontent.
The mother did not do everything in her power. She refused to get her daughter help for being dependent/addicted to pain, which she readily went back to; with her mother’s help. Her mother did not protect and insulate her daughter from this and did not disengage her from her tools of self-infliction (phone, computer, school, texts) long enough to get help for her. The girl needed help and protection from herself (not the bullies), both of which her mother refused to supply. You really think the mother did everything in her power? She did not protect her daughter and a child that knows their parent will not protect them even when they are being brutally hurt (albeit mentally) know, in their minds and hearts, that they are not loved. Note, I am not saying the parents did not love the girl; just in the child’s mind no protection and feeding one to the wolves, repeatedly and when you are crying, transfer to a sureness you are not loved.
Parents need to get back to “shit happens” and teaching their children to cope when “shit happens”
That was the attitude of my father, 35+ years ago. I was bullied mercilessly for the first year and a half of high school, mostly because I was the class “nerd” and was short for my age. After being urged to stand up for myself more than once, I finally confronted the worst of the bullies and it turned into a fistfight. I guess I lost the fight, but I gave as good as I got… and no one ever bullied me again.
I’m not recommending resorting to violence, but stand up for yourself and don’t expect someone else to fight your battles for you.
Separate and apart from this case though, I tend to think the cyberbullying issues in the long run are better handled by culture changes and responsible parents who instill good values in their kids and get involved in what they’re doing, rather than by laws.
Responsible parents wouldn’t let a 12 y/o “date.” I think that horse is out of the barn.
The term “date” doesn’t mean what it meant when we were in school. Today it means that two people have indicated some level of exclusivity of affection. As they always have, kids want to be more grown up than they are, and so they emulate their elders. We’re just more tolerant of it these days.
Umm… So should we also do away with stalking laws? When does bullying flip over into stalking?
We tend to minimize this because children are involved, but given that these girls were also engaged in an organized campaign of intimidation against anyone having anything to do with this girl and continued targeting her after she left the middle school argues more for stalking than bullying.
As far as the responsible parents, another article on this basically stated when initially contacted by the police, one father of the two arrested girls denied any *possibility* his daughter could be involved.
At what point do we let it go to?
And yes, I have more experience with the mental health issues involved here than I care to discuss.
I think maybe you misunderstand my sentiment. I’m not at all saying to do away with stalking laws. I’m talking about the need to exercise caution anytime there is a demand to create *new* laws in response to anything that addresses speech (as cyberbullying often does). Some online in response to this case specifically are suggesting new cyberstalking laws and bans on certain speech on social media, so I was speaking to that. In the Sedwick case, existing law was able to be applied, so I’m not sure new laws are the answer here.
When we live in a society where a kid can spend 5 months waiting in jail after making a joke on Facebook (see Justin Carter), we need to be especially careful about laws we implement that are attached to speech, whether it’s to protect against terrorism or cyberbullying. I’m not excluding the possibility of new laws, but it’s all a careful balance.
On the flip side, for those who think just ignoring the perps and turning everything off will make it stop, that isn’t always so simple either. Sometimes the activity is aimed elsewhere, even though it’s focused on hurting you as the victim. Examples: postings across the web with false information about you and photos posted to sites that aren’t you that are designed to harm your livelihood; unsolicited messages to employers, family members, colleagues, friends, designed to harass them or make them distance themselves from you; impersonated postings on sites designed to try and get you arrested…these are all parts of cyberstalking that you as the victim can’t just turn off. I can tell you from my own ordeal over the last 3 years that these kinds of things are very hard to deal with. So I definitely recognize the challenges and hardships.
And in all, most importantly, I think we need to change the culture. I feel that can be an even more powerful and longlasting change to make than new laws.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply Mandy, and yes, I know full well injustice is done often. The Justin Carter case is a perfect example of such injustice.
I’ve been doing this “computer thing” my entire career. Good/bad/indifferent, they have changed the ground rules. One of the reasons I post with my own name is I am a big boy and I take responsibility for my posts. Lots of times the bad actors come precisely because of the lack of accountability the internet provides.
And yet, that very anonymity (sp?) als provides a forum for voices who would be silenced that need to be heard.
Every good thing comes with a price, every sword cuts two ways.
“Every good thing comes with a price, every sword cuts two ways.” Yep, so true.
The internet and social media especially have created a lot more new complications that didn’t used to exist. It’s made dealing with the outcome of that growth equally complicated.
As another commenter here pointed out, these are different times and technology has augmented things. While the problems of bullying and harassment have long been problems, they certainly come with a lot more complications today because of technology. Yet at the core of both past and present is how people themselves behave.
I suppose as a society, we’re still trying to figure out how to balance it all out, somewhere between the laws and culture.
Putting your kids in public school is parental malpractice. Even if you truly believe in public education, pull your kids out until they get it fixed. Obama and Clinton did it. What are you, a martyr?
Thanks for pointing this out. You are absolutely correct.
Private schools aren’t always better. I was bullied a lot as a student at parochial schools. Some of the teachers actually encouraged it because I was not a docile student who recited incorrect information back to them. Unfortunately, my mother did not listen to me about it.
A problem child in public schools, my mother put me in Catholic school where I lasted exactly one week, expelled for punching a nun in the belly for whacking me across the knuckles with a steel ruler because I was caught writing with my left hand. I was 8; the nun was uninjured.
Cyber bullying? How is it possible to cyber bully when you can defriend, classify mail as junk, just delete without reading, just ignore a whole lot, change your number, change your account, make your account private, have as friends only those whom you approve? How is it possible?
Why didn’t this child’s mother block social media sites, take away the computer, give her a non-text cell, or do something sensible to help her daughter? What is a 12-year old doing on social media so that other dumb twits can harass her?
Sticks and stones. I don’t think anything should happen to these girls. They engaged in vioe free speech. The 12-year old didn’t need to listen. That’s the other side of the coin.
May that child find rest and sympathies to her family.
Do you have children? Do they attend public schools? Have they ever been bullied? Did you notice this girl had been physically attacked?
Normally I enjoy your posts. You have gone off the rails here.
Gibbie, whether or not I have children is immaterial. That’s the equivalent of saying you can’t talk politics unless you’re a politician.
I wouldn’t send a dog to a public school.
The deceased girl’s parents allowed her to date at age 12 – and they must not have been supervising her online interactions either.
Here is another case with tragic consequences because parent/s were not supervising their children adequately.
Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I was wondering the same thing. Age 12, and dating?
Also, it’s this bad, the kid is suicidal, and the parents don’t get a lawyer to threaten the school, the ringleader’s parents?
***I’d also like to know if this little girl was on “medication” for depression.***
Exactly. I’m thinking that this child had to have been depressed, and children suffering from depression cannot hide it. They cut themselves. They beat up themselves. They mutilate themselves and things around them in small but noticeable ways. Her mother, her parents had to have known if she was depressed. I’m not saying the bullying was not a contributing factor in her death, but I do question whether it was the primary factor. It does seem that the bullying is just the surface of the mountain that caused this child’s death.
You write several comments blaming Rebecca Sedwick’s parents – without having informed yourself of the basic facts. You hope that “nothing happens” to two individuals who engaged in what you admit was “vile” conduct, one of whom posted “IDGAF” about what happened.
Then you write, “May that child find rest and sympathies for her family.”
You despicable hypocrite.
I guess you’ve never raised a daughter. Cruelty via technology has become almost Medieval, especially between young girls.
If you have and not seen anything like this happen, your are both lucky and extraordinary.
Just so you know, there are many ways to bully someone without making direct contact. My granddaughter experienced it as a sophomore in high school. They bully you by posting stuff about you to your friends and classmates. Fortunately my granddaughter is very smart and self assured. She just dropped that whole gaggle of “friends” because, as she told me later, “Even though the rest of the group wasn’t involved directly, they didn’t come to my defense so that makes them part of the problem.” She developed a whole new network of friends and they are still close to this day. It doesn’t sound like this youngster had the support and self awareness my granddaughter had and of course, she was three years younger, a huge difference at that time of a kid’s life.
I swear to G*d, the level of uninformed judgement here on this topic looks more like the daily KOS, than LegalInsurrection.
Mandy at least had the good sense to be following this for awhile, and still reserves judgement. But she’s not running around with partial and often wrong information blaming the victims in this.
I’m glad to see the experts here know so much more than the police, and have perfect children who have never EVER done anything wrong. /sarcasm off
This went beyond bullying to assault and perhaps even assault and battery. That is both inexcusable and criminal.
IMost young people learn behavior from the media. But this kind of bullying isn’t so new. It used to be done on the phone or with notes passed in class. Cyber space makes it more frequent and intense for a school girl in 2013.
Still it’s very tough to be a quality parent right now. It requires tremendous focus, strength, courage, and of course better than average intelligence. It seems none of these girls were lucky enough to have been born to people who have even a small percentage of these traits or even the understanding of how to love and how to protect.
Kids will make it successfully through this stage in life but only if their parents are truly with them all the way.
I also suffered a year of ostracism and intimidation in high school. It wasn’t pleasant, but I got through it. Coincidentally it was age 14-15 as well.
Physical attacks can’t be tolerated, but teen angst and rivalry can’t be stopped, nor should it be. It is part of growing up.
It is sad the young girl took her own life but other than any actual physical assault or direct threat, there isn’t any evidence I see of illegality. Being mean and hateful isn’t, and should not be, a crime.
Its hard to see while it’s happening gradually, but technology augments things – sometimes drastically.
We now have technology giving us speeding tickets for the most minor infractions that the Adam-12 guys NEVER would have pulled us over for.
We now have the average Joe downloading a porn collection in minutes that only the most seriously lost pervert would have owned 50 years ago.
And now simple bullying has been amplified to the point of gang-stalking and psychological terror.
I understand those who want to say “My pappy told me to stand up to the school bully, and I did,” but this is weirder and crazier. (Just like I had a speech planned to fight the traffic cam, but they just took my money and shoved me along.)
These are different times. “It has ever been thus” is mostly an illusion; a way of adapting to things getting out of hand: pretend it’s all the same.
It’s not the same.
A parallel to this bullying problem is how we Conservatives are coping with the political disaster with which we are living. What are we doing about it? Are we looking to the party, or are we going to stand up for ourselves?
People talk about the rampant fear of Obama amongst the LSM and the political chattering class. Are we, too, afraid of him? Are we going to let him enslave us or are we going to engage in acts of civil disobedience?
To stop Obama, we have to take a chance, like Spiny Norman, and risk being beaten (audited, harassed by the FBI, etc.). To stop the bully, you, not someone else, must be willing to lay it all on the line.
I guess it must be a local jurisdictional issue, but I always thought that juvenile IDs were not released to the press. When I was a cop in Honolulu, juvis received extraordinary protections even if they were charged with a felony. Heck, even as a police officer, I was not allowed access to a juvenile’s record, nothing at all. If the juvenile had a “letter on file” (meaning I was to arrest them and bring to juvenile hall), that was the only thing I was told by dispatch.
Now, if the girls were charged as adults, then all bets would be off, but I don’t see anything to indicate that.
I’m confused…which is admittedly a common state for me.
Kids are maturing physically faster, due to multiple factors(hormones added to foods, media, environment, peers, medicines…?) These days many 12-13 year olds are cynical, psychologically traumatized and sexually active.
Nearly 20 years ago, a group of teens and pre-teens set the CDC stats on high alert when Conyers, GA, a wealthy bedroom community south of Atlanta reported a sudden epidemic number of syphilis, gonorrhea and other STDs in this age group. With both parents absent working and draw six figure incomes, the kids got into their parents po rn and alcohol and started experimenting and throwing or gies amongst themselves, each having so many partners they could not name or number them all.
That was 20 years ago. 10 years ago, I studied psychology at a state university and listened to angry, cynical kids who had been living the Hollywood media advertised free sex life. They were so aggrieved and disappointed and marked for life with diseases that can only be managed, never cured. They had turned to addictions and self-hatred for comfort, their (absent, addicted, divorced, abusive) parents having no real help for them. Their ability to have a productive happy life was diminished greatly at 17-18 years old. This is not an uncommon scenario.
Hollywood’s depiction of sex without consequences is as phony as Obamacare’s promises.
Two little nascent monsters better suited to be active workers at some whorehouse in Tijuana Mexico, rather than students at the local public school.
This is what happens when adults sacrifice their progeny upon the alter of public indoctrination. This isn’t 1950 any longer, rather an agenda is in place to rob all people of their humanity…. AND, the agenda is doing very well, thank you.
Bullying is at its worst among siblings and you got to have enough to create the “Jan Brady” syndrome.
Remember this when your speech gets classified as “bullying”.
Your political speech. Here’s an example:
You don’t like ObamaCare and say so? stop bullying the president!
Now, if the parents of the dead girl want to file a wrongful death suit against the bullies, by all means, go for it.
Why do some children come through bullying and others don’t?
Why does one grow and become empowered and confident while the other is despondent? Does the despondency come from the rejection and bullying or does it come from a basic desire in a child to be protected by their parents? Abandonment by the parents. How dare the parents blame these absolutely out-of-control girls for contributing to their child’s death when they failed to protect their daughter. What kind of parent sends their kids back into an evil environment and tell her she has to deal with it? The parents could not have stopped the gang but they sure could have, and chose not to, insulate their daughter from these excessively mean children. Oh, they changed schools, but did not remove their presence from their daughter’s life; why? Their daughter needed to be said ‘no’ to. ‘No’ cell phone. “No” computer. Yes, to teaching and developing understanding in the daughter to help her learn what and who are ‘safe’ and healthy friends. Basic parenting with the balls to treat the daughter’s addiction to inflicted pain. When you have a child that is a cutter, does one supply the child with razor blades? No, until the child is treated and recovered, it is a 24/7 job and presence with your child. The parents failed. If the gang had not accosted, repeatedly, the hurting child, she would have found her self-infliction someplace else; all the while waiting for Mom to step in protect her; to love her. The parents hold more responsibility for this death than the bullies, whose parents should be dealing with and not some applied stalking law. Stalking is going around perimeters someone sets up to keep the other out. The dead girl kept contact, kept an open invitation into her life. Harsh? Yes. But I don’t know any parent that would let their child be victimized. Has the question already been answered, “Was the dead girl actually stalking the others and insisting they be her friend when they did not want to be?”
“Was the dead girl actually stalking the others and insisting they be her friend when they did not want to be?”
I suspect this question is from a former bully, or a current bully still trying to rationalize their abhorrent behavior. Disgusting.
Good Lord have mercy. It is all clear to me now. Rape is the fault of the woman. If only she hadn’t worn that provocative dress. /sarcasm.
Seriously, I really don’t think ANYONE who is throwing stones at that mother REALLY knows what she did and didn’t do. She clearly did a lot. Was it enough? Clearly not, but IMHO NO ONE realized how relentless these girls would be, until she died.
Pray to God no one picks apart your failures in life so callously.