Following the suicide of Rebecca Ann Sedwick, Florida authorities have arrested two girls in connection with the harassment and cyberbullying of the 12-year-old girl.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Tuesday that a 14-year-old was picked up because authorities feared she would continue berating other girls via text messages or on the Internet, CBS News reported
. A 12-year-old was also apprehended. Both have been charged with felony aggravated stalking.
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The two are among as many as 15 girls suspected of bullying Sedwick, who last month jumped to her death after climbing a tower at an abandoned concrete plant.
Grady told CBS the 14-year-old threatened to assault Rebecca, told her “to drink bleach and die” and urged the victim to kill herself.
The Huffington Post quoted Judd as saying that the bullying began because of a “boyfriend issue”
last year at Crystal Lake Middle School. The Sheriff noted that Rebecca was “absolutely terrorized” by the other girls, and detectives were shaken after reading her diaries at home.
“Her writings would break your heart,” he told the Huffington Post.
A growing number of cases involve teen suicides and bullying, including that of 16-year-old Florida girl Jessica Laney, who hanged herself last year after being relentlessly bullied on Ask.fm.
The Cyberbullying Research Center, in a random survey of more than 4,400 children
from a large school district in the southern United States, found that more than one in five youth ranging in age from 10 to 18 have been the victim of cyberbullying, and nearly one in five have been victimized more than once. Cell phones are the most common tool used, according to the study.
“Cyberbullying is when someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online while using cell phones or other electronic devices,” the Cyberbullying Research Center says.
Sheriff Judd told CBS that the 12-year-old girl arrested in connection with the suicide had once been Rebecca’s best friend. He accused the 14-year-old of turning her against Rebecca, and added that other girls stopped being friends with Rebecca for fear of being bullied themselves.
He said he was miffed that the suspects were still using social networking sites after the suicide.
“If we can find any charges we can bring against their parents, we will,” he told CBS.
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