Rebecca Ann Sedwick was a young, vibrant teenager with an exciting life ahead of her. Tragically, Rebecca Ann Sedwick has instead become the latest victim of a terrible epidemic growing among teens: cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying has become a very visible threat this summer. Rehtaeh Parsons, Gabrielle Molina, and Hannah Smith were all victims of different forms of online and mobile cyberbullying and Rebecca Ann Sedwick has become the latest warning to parents of the seriousness of this growing threat.
On Tuesday, Rebecca Ann Sedwick was found dead less than a mile from her home. She had discussed potentially harming herself the day before, according to her parents, and it remains to be seen if there were additional signs before her tragic suicide.
What is not in doubt is the viciousness of the attacks Rebecca Ann Sedwick was subjected to before she took her own life. According to the Orlando Sentinel, “she was at one point jumped in school and later bombarded with such hateful text messages as ‘you’re ugly,’ ‘why are you still alive,’ and ‘go kill yourself.'”
That makes Rebecca Ann Sedwick the victim of the new, threatening cyberbullying mix: the combination of traditional schoolyard bullying with digital online attacks and 24/7 mobile assaults via text messages and mobile applications. The combination is particularly harmful to teens because it creates a feeling of no escape: bullied in school all day, at home via social media and on the go by text and messaging apps, there is simply no place of refuge for victims like Rebecca Ann Sedwick.
Something must be done about it. As we said in coverage of Hannah Smith and Rehtaeh Parsons’ tragic suicides, leadership must come from parents and educators. In particular, educators must communicate more effectively with students to identify and protect victims. Alongside this effort, parents must use available technology applications, of which MMGuardian Parental Control is one option, to monitor their children’s digital activity to keep them safe. If parents know what their children are experiencing online and educators tell them what is going on in school, they will be in a much better position to protect their children from tragedy.