Another tragedy occurred this week with the suicide of Rebecca Ann Sedwick of Lakeland, Florida. The 12 year old girl jumped to her death at a cement plant near her home on Monday September 9th. According to the Polk Sheriff, her body was found early Tuesday morning after several hours of searching. She was a victim of cyber bullying and some of the last messages she received said “go kill yourself.”
No one should have to endure bullying to the point that they no longer want to live. A 12 year old girl has lost her life. She will never graduate high school, never go to the prom, never go to college, and never get married. The list goes on and on. These bullies have caused families and friends unnecessary pain. They encouraged Sedwick to kill herself. Who feels good about telling someone to do that? I truly hope that the bullies identities are made known and that someone will take time to talk to these bullies. They need help too. Obviously, they think it is okay to spread rumors and harm another person through their words. Perhaps they have endured bullying too. Either way, we cannot pretend that they did not have a role in Sedwick’s suicide.
What is cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying is bullying through the use of technology. Cyber bullying is repetitive and often anonymous. This type of bullying can occur through many different means including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, and texting. Cyber bullying has become more common in middle and high schools but college students and adults can be victims or bullies too.
What can you do?
- If you are a victim, tell someone such as a teacher, a parent, a friend. Keep telling until someone listens. Too many people ignore the victim’s cry for help and even tell the victim not to be a “tattle tale.” It takes courage to tell someone but please don’t be afraid. You do not deserve to be treated this way!
- If you are a parent, please communicate with your children about bullying so that they are not afraid to come to you if they are a victim. Monitor their Internet use even if they complain that they need privacy. Keep computers in a family room. Spend time with your children. If they want to talk to you, make time for them.
- If you are a teacher, don’t ignore children and teens when they approach you and please do not label them as a tattle tale. They are already afraid. They need you to be supportive and to help them deal with the bully.
- If you witness bullying, don’t stand back and let it happen. Tell someone! Too many victims never receive any assistance. They feel alone and may be scared to tell someone what is happening.
- If you are bullying someone, stop it!!! There is no excuse for spreading rumors and calling people names. You are causing harm that can last a lifetime. It really is not worth it!
For more information on bullying:
- Polk sheriff: Girl committed suicide after online bullying (TBO.com)
- Dr. Tammy Zacchilli interviewed on bullying in the current issue of Cheer Professional (saintleoinkblot.com)
- Dr. Tammy Zacchilli earns the Distinguished Publications Award (saintleoinkblot.com)