Kids literally can be bullied to death.
On Wednesday, October 24, 2012, Felicia Garcia jumped in front of a moving train on Staten Island in front of 200 fellow students. The 15-year-old freshman at Tottenville High School killed herself after being bullied by classmates over her having sex with four football players the weekend before. The encounters were recorded, kids began talking about it, and bullying quickly ensued. The bullying drove Felicia to the point of tweeting “I cant, im done, I give up” on Monday.
After hearing about the bullying the school set up a mediation session with a counselor and one of the 17-year-old football players. The student denied the harassment. It was reported that Felicia ran into another one of the football players involved in the harassment after the counseling session, and words were exchanged. It is unknown what was said. Felicia appeared to have left the session in a positive mood. However, according to the NY Daily News, once on the Huguenot Ave. platform, Felicia handed her cell phone to a friend, walked to the edge of the platform, said, “finally, it’s here” as the train approached, and fell backward into the path of the oncoming train.
According to Gather.com, as of yesterday, two students have been suspended for their part in the bullying that drove Felicia to her death. However, neither of the students are on the Tottenville High School football team. In fact, a police source noted that none of the football players are to blame, saying that Felicia was not pressured into doing anything and the sexual encounters were consensual. However, several students have reported that it was members of the football team who were the ones responsible for the bullying. In addition, given Felicia’s reaction, it can be assumed that the video recording was not consensual.
This tragic incident occurred just a month and a half after the suicide of Amanda Todd, who took her life after incessant bullying and cyberbullying. Shortly before killing herself, Amanda made a YouTube video describing the taunting and her despair. Amanda had been coerced into showing her breasts to a 30-year-old man on a webcam site (when she was only 12 years old). The man stalked her and posted the picture online. Amanda moved schools after peers saw the photo, but the photo and her resulting reputation followed her. So did the bullying in and out of school. In fact, even after her death, the bullying persists on websites set up as memorials, where derogatory remarks have been posted even when monitored by police (see video above).
These horrific incidents are prime examples of just how important it is to educate children about bullying and cyberbullying. Although bullying isn’t new, cyberbullying has increasingly become a topic of concern. Kids can’t escape negativity thrown their way over Facebook, Twitter, text messages, etc, so that feeling of desperation and despair is amplified. Although National Bullying Prevention Month is coming to an end, parents and teachers need to be aware of those cries for help such as Amanda’s video or Felicia’s tweets and Instagram pictures, and be consistent in the fight against bullying.
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