Rebecca Sedwick killed herself at age 12 after relentless cyberbullying from classmates, but her death has led to questions about the focus and effectiveness of cyberbullying laws.
Sedwick jumped to her death from a tower at a concrete plant on September 9. After her death, officials found that two teenage girls — one of whom was once Rebecca’s best friend — had led a charge in cyberbullying Rebecca.
Though the girls have not been named, police said they were upset that Rebecca dated an ex-boyfriend of one of the girls. Police say they then goaded a group of up to 15 teens into bullying Rebecca through social media. They threatened her and encouraged her to commit suicide, with one of them telling her to “drink bleach and die.”
Though the Rebecca Sedwick suicide represents one of the most extreme examples of cyberbullying, some experts believe that criminalizing the use of social media for bullying is not an effective solution.
“It’s a tragic case, it’s an extreme case, and there were a lot of people involved in bullying this girl in some pretty significant ways: It was not your run-of-the-mill cyberbullying,” said Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center.
But, he adds, “I don’t think more criminalization of cyberbullying is necessary. As this case will help us to determine, there are laws on the books that could be applied to extreme forms of cyberbullying.”
The two girls leading the charge to bully Rebecca Sedwick have been arrested for aggravated stalking. Reports say one of the girls admitted to bullying Sedwick, saying she didn’t care that the girl killed herself.
“Yes IK I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF,” the Facebook post read, with IDGAF standing for “I don’t give a f***.”
Rebecca’s parents said they are pleased with the arrest.
“Because justice is finally being served,” Tricia Norman, the mother of Rebecca Sedwick, told CNN. “Something’s finally being done about these girls that are bullying her. That’s all she ever wanted was somebody to listen and do something about it.”