One young life lost. Two other young lives damaged forever. Those are the cruel consequences so far from an extensive cyberbullying campaign waged against 12-year-old Lakeland middle school student Rebecca Sedwick, who took her own life in September after months of online taunting from her classmates. Now Polk County sheriff's deputies have arrested two girls, ages 12 and 14, on charges of felony aggravated stalking leading to Sedwick's death. Sedwick's suicide is another somber reminder of the dangers of cyberbullying by peers who may be technologically literate but oblivious to the consequences of using a keyboard as a weapon.
Law enforcement officials estimate at least 15 girls were either aware of or participated in the cyberattacks on Sedwick, telling her she should die or kill herself. Changing schools or being homeschooled to stop the abuse didn't work. Cyberspace transcends physical boundaries.
National statistics show 1 in 5 children are subjected to cyberbullying. In Polk County, the criminal justice system will run its course now that arrests have been made. But Sedwick's memory is best honored by parents and school officials rededicating themselves to identifying signs of cyberbullying and quickly intervening before another 12-year-old girl regards suicide as the only way to escape from her tormentors.