2 Middle Schoolers Charged with Cyberstalking After Classmate’s Suicide
One of the suspects told police she started a rumor about her classmate having a sexually transmitted disease and called her “vulgar” names.
Two Florida middle schoolers have been charged with cyberstalking in connection with their classmate’s suicide, according to police.
The two suspects, both 12-year-old students at Surfside Middle School in Panama City Beach, were arrested following an investigation into the January 10 suicide of 12-year-old classmate Gabriella Green, reports Fox News.
Authorities say the two minors were arrested after family and friends alerted police that Gabriella was a victim of cyberbullying. After looking at social media accounts and cell phones, investigators interviewed the two suspects with permission from their parents.
A police report says the students admitted to cyberbullying behavior that they knew would “result in emotional distress”.
One of the suspects told police that she started rumors about Green having a sexually transmitted disease. The bullying also including “vulgar name-calling and threats to ‘expose’ personal and sensitive details of the victim’s life.” Police say the suspect deleted messages upon learning of the death, according to KTLA.
The other suspect told police he had a video call with Green during which she said she had attempted to hang herself and had red marks on her neck.
“(He) responded by saying something to the effect of, ‘If you’re going to do it, just do it,’ and ended the call,” said the report. “He immediately regretted that statement, and began calling and text-messaging her, but did not receive a response.”
Neither of the students alerted adults or authorities that Gabriella was suicidal.
Authorities say their investigation did not reveal that the cyberbullying was the direct cause of Green’s suicide but did say the actions of the suspects caused mental distress.
Police have cautioned parents in allowing children to have “unmonitored access to several social media platforms.”
“These specific cell phone applications have been found to be the root of several dangerous and negative situations, such as cyberbullying, sexting and potential access by online predators,” said the Panama City Beach police, who will be holding training in the coming weeks for parents on these social media apps and the dangers and signs of cyberbullying.
Gabriella’s mother, Tanya Green, places blame on parents and the school system for her daughter’s suicide. In a Facebook post, Green wrote her daughter had been targeted for a year but the school did not intervene.
“We took it up with the school several times. They did nothing,” reads the post.
Green says the arrests are “gratifying” and hopes it will shine a light on the seriousness of cyberbullying.
“It’s going to help others at her school,” said Green. “It’s going to start at her school. It’s going to help others around the world.”
On Monday morning, several parents held up anti-bullying signs and reprimanded the school’s administration for what they call a lack of action taken against bullying, reports The News Herald. Many have called for action to be taken against Surfside administrators.
“Almost every parent here, their child has been bullied at this school,” said parent Amy Strout. “This could have been my kid. This could have been their kid.”
If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!
Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century
This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!