It was with deep sadness that I read of the suicide death of a 12-year-old girl, Rebecca Sedwick, in Winter Haven, Fla. Her death was a result of bullying primarily by two girls, ages 14 and 12.
Police in central Florida said Rebecca was tormented online and at school by as many as 15 girls before she climbed a tower at an abandoned concrete plant and jumped to her death on Sept. 9.
“‘Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but I don’t give a ...’ and you can add the last word yourself,” Sheriff Grady Judd said, quoting a Facebook post by the 14-year-old.
What has happened to our youth? How could a 14-year-old make such a remark about someone who she tormented so badly the girl had rather take her life than to continue to put up with the emotional torment this girl put her through?
In that same article I read that Rebecca is one of at least a dozen or so suicides in the past three years that were attributed at least in part to cyber-bullying. A New Jersey-based lawyer told The Associated Press last month that it is difficult to bring charges against someone accused of driving a person to suicide, in part because of free speech laws.
Have we as a people lost all sense of right and wrong? Do we think it is more important to let people rave and rant and use all kinds of abusive language, like telling a 12-year-old “to drink bleach and die” like the 14-year-old allegedly told Rebecca about a year ago, than to make laws that could prevent the death of at least dozens of our youth by bullying? Yes, we have free speech laws. But our rights should not come before the damage and death in many cases of our people. And mostly our youth in the cases of bullying.
New laws need to be made concerning freedom of speech. Our rights should end when the abuse of them causes harm to our people. Parents should pay more attention to what their children look at on the computer and TV. If they constantly watch violence and evil acts they become corrupted until they no longer have a conscience and cease to have feelings or compassion for other human beings.
The fact that the 14-year-old could make the remark that she bullied Rebecca and she killed herself and she doesn’t care is an example of what can happen to a child left “to hang loose unsupervised,” as a neighbor said of her and other children on the street.
Helen L. Kizer