Rebecca Ann Sedwick

The suicide of 12 year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick, like the other tragic suicides of young lives, created a ground swell of bullying and cyberbullying prevention advocates to write many articles about horrific incident.

During National Bullying Prevention Month we just learned that two more young lives will be changed forever — however not how you would expect.

Sheriff Judd of Polk County, Florida, arrested two girls ages 12 and 14 in connection with Rebecca Ann Sedwick death.  They have been charged with felony aggravated stalking.

Who are these minors?  We don’t know as of yet and may not know since they are minors, but according to earlier reports there were as many as fifteen girls involved in this online and offline harassment.

I watch Twitter feeds going — many, including myself, have asked, who are the parents?  Where were the parents?

What we do know is kids have parents.  It is easy to blame the parents, it is easy to blame the schools, it is easy to blame many things but it doesn’t bring back the people we lost.

We need to take this incident, especially this arrest of two minors as an opportunity to open your lines of communication with your children – all ages (if they are old enough to hold a keypad, they are old enough to understand to respect their keystrokes).

Sure, many parents say ‘my kids are tired of hearing me talk.’  Well, that’s too bad — obviously we need to continue it, and when situations like this occur, it is time for discussions, preferably dinner time, to talk.  Yes, make time for family dinner – unplug and have face-to-face chat-time!

What can you and your kids do to make a difference in your community?  What can you do to make a difference in a friend’s life that is struggling?

Think about this:

What if just 2 of those teens reached out to Rebecca and said, “gee, you look nice today” or “how are you feeling?”  “do you want to talk?”  “you are pretty” “your hair is pretty” “I like your shirt” — Simple, short, kind words that may have turned a bad situation into something completely different….

Create a vocabulary of kindness.  Make it a habit to find one nice thing daily to tell someone – to Tweet to someone – to post to someones wall.

Remember, you can be a cyber-mentor for someone too!  When people watch you spreading kindness, you will be amazed at how quickly others will follow.

If you wake up not feeling great, don’t go on social media – take a break.

The consequences of lethal keystrokes are deadly.  Don’t risk getting up on the wrong side of bed one day that can effect the rest of your life….. you can live without cyber-life for 24-48 hours.  We haven’t seen any die from that yet.

Parents…. keep talking – your kids are listening and they want to hear from you.

BTW parents, they are also watching you….

For the record, since people have been asking me, when it comes to the parents of the 14 year-old that was arrested, I hold them accountable when I hear the Sheriff explain their defiant attitude about this case.  One thing is for sure, this was not an easy decision for the authorities to make — they arrested these girls with valid cause, and these parents are condoning this malicious behavior of their daughter.

Out of curiosity, since when was it okay to allow your child to tell another child to drink bleach and die?

It makes you wonder what type of role model this child had. In my opinion, of course.

Ignorance is not an excuse for what happened here.

Recent Washington Post interview.  I agree with the criminologist, it is sad three lives are taken, but in reality, it may be many more.  This cycle needs to end.  The sheriff, in my opinion, is sending the message that need to be sent.  There is zero tolerance for peer cruelty – at all ages!