The Consequences of Cyberbullying

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The recent suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedgwick shocked the small community of Lakeland, Florida, and left parents and teachers wondering how to punish the girls who bullied her. This week, local police took matters into their own hands, charging two girls ages 14 and 12 with aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony.

Lakeland Sheriff Grady Judd had a few words for the young bullies, telling Takeaway partner The New York Times, the 14-year-old "forced" her arrest, and explained that the police decided that "we can’t leave her out there."

"Who else is she going to torment? Who else is she going to harass? Who is the next person she verbally abuses and attacks?," he continued.

As more and more young people define their lives online, stories about cyberbullying and its devastating consequences have gone viral. But are felony charges the best way to punish bullies and prevent future incidents? What role should parents and teachers play?

Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate and a fellow at Yale Law School, examines all of these questions. She's the author of "Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy."


Emily Bazelon

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

Comments [6]

How is it bullying when either party can turn off the computer, unfriend, not read, block, the other person? They have to literally come back. It’s not like a post can follow you from home to school to work.

The parents need to be involved. Don’t blame the website. I point to the parents on being able to raise healthy children.

Oct. 17 2013 03:47 PM
arrest parents

In addition to arresting the bullying kids, I'd arrest their parents for NOT parenting. There is NO excuse for bullying and that is why they are arrested and tried for the crime they committed.

I wonder if a measurement of one's waist applies to their behavior? Funny, if it were not so sad.

Oct. 17 2013 03:17 PM
nycXPat from Boston, MA

Dear god, John! This is one of the reasons they (average America) hate us (the mushy-left). In the face of a genuine problem we first think to insert Big Brother into (and exert influence over) everyone's life in an effort to push toward some pseudo-consensus mode of being.

Did you actually mean to say that we should have eyes everywhere on everything?

Oct. 17 2013 02:58 PM
Angel from Miami FL

There is no cyberbullying. It's just bullying. In fact, bullying online is even easier to ignore - close your social media accounts or just turn off your computer. After that it's the same kind of crap kids do in the schoolyard... especially in Florida.

Oct. 17 2013 02:50 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Internet is still "The Wild West" of emotions; guns a blazing with no Sheriff to control the situation.

Cyber bullying by kids is the result of parents unable to monitor their kids behavior. I see bullying on the playground when I pick up my kids after school. I have stepped into situations in order to stop bad behavior...I have not been rewarded by the bullies with kind words . I am amazed at how angry kids are willing to be towards adults. Shocking, really. So, cyber bullying doesn't surprise me at all.

On Facebook, I have had to block people for being Trolls and being mean spirited towards me. It is a weird phenomenon. People are acting out their anger on the internet because it is somehow safe.
I teach my kids to defend against punches and how to punch back.

Oct. 17 2013 01:04 PM

What is it with, Florida and the abuse of people being OK'd? FL: Where laws allow someone to shoot an unarmed teenager carrying skittles, to these abusive teens skirting prosecution. Kudos to all those standing up for moral values toward each other!

Oct. 17 2013 12:58 PM

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