Two Florida Girls Arrested for Bullying that Led to Classmate’s Suicide
Two girls have been arrested in the death of a 12-year-old Central Florida acquaintance after she reportedly committed suicide after months of severe bullying and harassment.
One of the suspects is 12, and the other is 14, according to officials. Both have been charged with felony aggravated stalking, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
The victim, Rebecca Ann Sedwick, was the focus of bullying from as many as 15 girls, who reportedly ganged up on her for months. Some of the group’s cell phones and computers were seized during the investigation, because much of the bullying occurred online.
“They would tell her she’s ugly, stupid, nobody liked her, go kill herself,” Rebecca’s mother, Tricia Norman, told WTSP-TV last month. She says the constant bullying drove her daughter to kill herself, and that the school district did not do enough to protect her.
According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, Rebecca texted a boy she had met online on September 9th that she was going to jump from an abandoned cement factory tower, because she couldn’t take the harassment and bullying anymore.
Judd said that there were several red flags of a potential suicide, in Rebecca’s internet search history alone. Police found that she had been searching topics including “what is overweight for a 13-year-old girl,” “how to get blades out of razors,” and “how many over-the-counter drugs do you take to die.” One of her screensavers showed her head resting on a train track.
In November last year, Rebecca ran away from home. The following month, she was hospitalized for three days after severely cutting herself. At school, the bullying was so serious that administrators stepped in to change all of the girls’ schedules to separate them. Rebecca even changed schools later, but the bullying continued online.
Florida passed an anti-bullying law, named after a girl who killed herself after being severely harassed by classmates. The law was amended this past July to include cyberbullying. However, legally the punishment is left to schools, although in some serious bullying cases, law enforcement can pursue juvenile criminal charges.
“Some of the juveniles have told us that Rebecca was absolutely terrorized on social media by some girls,” Sheriff Judd told reporters last month. “She appeared to be beat down.”
Deputies arrested two of the girls, whose names are withheld because they are juveniles, on Monday, October 14th. The girls were released back to their parents. No court date has been set, and authorities are still determining if there will be any additional criminal charges in the bullying case.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Personal Injury Cases Against Bullying
Lawsuits against bullying are increasing in the United States. Parents are doing their best to hold schools accountable for their children’s safety. It is important to take steps to resolve the issue to the best of your ability, but if your child has been bullied and you think school officials are not listening to your or taking your claims seriously, you may need to consider alternative action. Please contact the experienced lawyers at Strom Law, LLC, today. We offer free consultations to discuss the details of your case. 803.252.4800.