Two Florida girls, one 12 and one 14, have been charged with aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony, for allegedly bullying a girl who committed suicide five weeks ago. Police decided to arrest the kids after the older one posted this onto her Facebook page on Saturday: "Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself and I don’t give a fuck."
The New York Times reports that 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick, who leapt from a factory tower last month, had suffered harassment for over a year due to an argument over a boy. The 14-year-old was apparently upset that Sedwick had once dated her boyfriend, and so she allegedly began a campaign of bullying that included physical altercations, online attacks, and efforts to turn her friends against her.
The Times writes that Rebecca eventually began cutting herself, at which point Sedwick's mother pulled her out of her old middle school and sent her to get psychiatric care. Sedwick then enrolled in a different school. Nevertheless, she continued getting messages online telling her to kill herself and "drink bleach." (For her part, the older girl who was arrested after posting to Facebook that she bullied Sedwick told police that her account was hacked.)
Some people expressed shock at the Polk County Sheriff's Department's decision to arrest the girls, but Sheriff Grady Judd said today that the older girl's Facebook message "forced this arrest."
Mr. Judd said he was stunned by the older girl’s actions. He reserved his harshest words for her parents for failing to monitor her behavior and for allowing her to keep her phone. The girls already had been questioned by the police over the suicide.
“I’m aggravated that the parents are not doing what parents should do: after she is questioned and involved in this, why does she even have a device?” Sheriff Judd said. He added, “Parents, who instead of taking that device and smashing it into a thousand pieces in front of that child, say her account was hacked.”
Neither girl who was arrested has a record, so police say they're likely to face no juvenile detention time if convicted.
[Image, of pallbearers in anti-bullying shirts carrying Sedwick's casket, via AP]