Last month, 12 year old Rebecca Sedwick messaged a friend and told him, "I'm jumping and I can't take it anymore." Following that message, Sedwick went to a nearby silo and jumped, ending her life.
This morning, police in Polk County, Florida arrested 2 suspects for aggravated stalking of Sedwick. The two girls, one aged 14 and the other aged 12, had been bullying Sedwick for months before the incident occurred.
The abuse started at Crystal Lake Middle school, where Sedwick was constantly tormented by her two bullies after the 14 year old started dating Sedwick's ex-boyfriend. Not only was Sedwick accosted with such verbal attacks as "You're ugly," "Why are you still alive?," "Go kill yourself," and "to drink bleach and die," but she was also physically attacked by the 12 year old, resulting in her temporary suspension.
Due to the constant abuse Sedwick faced, her parents decided to pull her out of Crystal Lake Middle School and home-school Rebecca. Following a break, the parents decide to enroll Sedwick in a different school, Lawton Chiles Middle Academy. While Sedwick seemed to be much more receptive to attending school here, the bullying followed her online.
The break leading to the arrest came when the 14 year old girl posted the following on her Facebook page: "Yes IK I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF." (Translated as "Yes, I know I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself, but I don't give a f*ck.")
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd stated that the arrest came so quickly after the discovery of this post because, "We decided that we can't leave her out there. Who else is she going to torment, who else is she going to harass?"
Judd added, "If we can find any charges we can bring against their parents, we will," especially considering the fact that Judd felt the parents were not doing their job as parents, allowing their 14 year old daughter to continue to use social media websites after her arrest.
As it currently stands, the two girls most likely will not spend any time in juvenile detention due to not having a previous record and also due to the level of the violation - Aggravated stalking is a Class 3 Felony, only one step above a misdemeanor.
Everyone has seen the impact that social media has made on our ability to communicate face to face, and the influence it has had upon our grammar. However, one often forgets how social media makes it very easy to harass and stalk others. In an age when children are being subjected to constant advertisements purporting the perfect body type or personality traits, social media can become a dangerous weapon for use by bullies. Perhaps Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd put it best when he stated, "As I child I can remember my mother telling me 'sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you. Today, words stick, because they're printed. And words are as hurtful — and sometimes more hurtful — as sticks and stones...Ask Rebecca's family."
Image via Facebook