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Rebecca Sedwick was 12 years old when she decided she
couldn't take it anymore. The cruel words. The cyber-taunts. The intimidation.
The physical altercations. Last month, according to police, she changed the
name on her cell phone to "That Dead Girl," climbed a concrete tower, and
leaped to her death.
It's too late now to help Rebecca. But there still may be
time to save one of her alleged bullies, and that girl's siblings.
Authorities in Polk County, Florida last week arrested
30-year-old Vivian Vosburg—the stepmother of Rebecca's alleged tormenter—on
two counts of child abuse with bodily harm and four counts of child neglect. The
Central Florida sheriff's office took Vosburg into custody after viewing a
Facebook video showing Vosburg pummeling a young boy in her care with her
fists, while teenage girls looked on and laughed, said Polk County Sheriff
Grady Judd. Both the girls and Vosburg yelled expletives and another boy lay on
the ground, apparently inert, Judd said.
were all laughing, cussing and throwing F-bombs everywhere," Judd said,
"which clearly indicates to us that this is a normal way of life."
should not be news that children learn what their parents teach them. Good
manners, proper study habits, how to share toys, how to set a dinner table, the
difference between right and wrong: these are all lessons that begin at home.
But what if a parent teaches bullying?
It is time we remember that everyone's a child here
often come from families where there is conflict, according to a 2010 study. If that holds true in the case
of Rebecca's alleged bully, then what we see here is a double tragedy: one
young life ended by suicide, and another at the very least radically altered by
arrest and imprisonment.
not enough, then, to care for potential or actual victims of bullying, and
punish those who mete out the psychological and physical torture. It is time we
remember that everyone's a child here, and that the best way to prevent
escalation may be to find out why the bully feels so angry in the first
place. It may have nothing to do with
the victim, after all.
stepdaughter is 14 years old and one of two girls (the other is 12) charged
earlier last week with felony aggravated stalking. Their arrest came out of the
14-year-old's own Facebook comment, Judd said. At a news conference last week, Judd repeated the post from memory:
"'Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but I don't give a …' and you
can add the last word in yourself."