Social media used as a weapon

Sticks and stones may break your bones.

But words can kill you.

Her name was Rebecca Sedwick. She was 12. And last month, she jumped off of a tower in an abandoned factory — to her death.

This girl should have been enjoying her life, hanging out with her friends and making memories. She shouldn’t have been afraid to go to school. She should have felt safe in her own home.

According to the New York Times, the parents of this girl moved her to a different school and deleted her Facebook profile. But the tormenting didn’t go away.

Whenever Sedwick’s cell phone buzzed, she was terrified to see the notification. Two children, 12 and 14, cyberbullied Sedwick through mobile applications such as Kik and Snapchat, along with posting tormenting Facebook statuses.

The concept of cyberbullying is not new.

What is new, however, are the charges that the children, and the parents, are facing in this specific case. Mark O’Mara, CNN Legal Analyst, has been pushing for the parents to be charged for negligence and ultimately their obliviousness to their daughters’ Internet and cellular use. He believes that the parents are liable, just as they would be if they let their children have access to their car, or alcohol, or a gun.

So why is the Internet any different?

Anyone can go online, create a fake profile, and torment someone for no reason at all. What makes this even more distasteful is that children are doing it.

For fun.

Before cyberbullying, a parent could take the matter up with the principal or switch the child’s school. Now, the child is never safe from antagonizing messages. Always fearful to pick up their phone. Always wondering when the distress will end.

When it comes to a point where a child, or any human for that matter, has to live in constant fear of someone, then it’s just not right. Disgusting, actually.

What some people don’t realize is that sending a message that reads: “Kill yourself” or “Why aren’t you dead yet?” may have the same effect as holding the gun to their head.

Even someone who believes suicide is never an option, or that it is morally wrong, can see that the torture that Sedwick was put through was reprehensible. The parents of the two children who bullied Sedwick should be held responsible for her death. A parent should aim to be aware of their child’s online presence, especially since there are so many ways to hurt someone. In just an instant, a harmful message can be sent.

There’s no taking it back. There’s no recycle bin in the mind. Once someone sees the message, it takes effect.

Often times, typing a short message feels so easy. So fast, simple. It isn’t hard for one to mask themselves online and to taunt people.

But does that mean that it should be done? Does that make it any less hurtful? Any less real?

Because there is no difference between telling someone to die in real life and telling them through a quick text message.

Why would anyone, much less a child, want to hurt someone so badly? Make them feel like they cannot live on this planet anymore?

What’s even more frightening is the fact that parents can be completely oblivious to what their children are putting online.

And this worries me.

In the case of Rebecca Sedwick, there was little parental interference. No one to tell the tormentors that their petty Facebook posts and useless plotting against Sedwick would eventually lead her to her death. No one was there to tell them that they weren’t just sending messages. Weren’t just playing a game. They were making a little girl’s life unbearable. They were pushing her to end her life.

The parents of these children should have stopped this before it manifested itself into such a delicate problem.

Sure, they may not have grown up with this same technology, but does that mean they had to disregard their daughters’ Facebook pages? Some parents may feel that this is just the same as peeping into their journal or invading their private space. But when it comes down to it, a child’s Facebook profile can be used as a weapon.

Locked and loaded. Ready for the kill.