Kristi's Kids

Dec 19, 2012 11:59 PM

Cyber Bullying pushes teen to the brink

TUCSON - A 13-year-old girl attempts to take her own life and her family blames bullying. Cruel words they say she could not escape.

For her privacy, we're changing her name to "Jennifer."

"At age 13 we wonder, what on earth causes a girl that innocent to want to take her life?" asks Kristopher Benko, Jennifer's brother-in-law.

"She tried to take her life as she had taken too many prescription sleeping pills."

Jennifer survived the overdose but was in the hospital for several weeks. Initially they feared she might suffer long term injuries. Her prognosis looks better now.

Her family says she avoided school because the bullying was so intense. But that didn't help.

"Today's technology doesn't allow you to walk away from an issue anymore," says Kristopher.

The tormenting continued on Facebook.

"She had stated to the person, that was actively bullying her, that she had had enough. And that she was sorry. And to make everything stop, that she would just take her own life."

Professor Sheri Bauman is Director of the Counseling and Mental Health Program at the University of Arizona. Bauman has authored several books on bullying. She says when it comes to social media teens feel like everyone is looking at them.

"It's not just the perpetrator or ones friends who see. But it can be the friends of the friends of the friends. And the sense is that the whole world is aware of my humiliation and how I'm being treated."

Bauman also says cyber bullying can be much harsher.

"People seem, when they get online, to be able to be willing to say things that they would never say to someone person to person."

Jennifer's sister has a message for parents.

"I believe this could happen to anybody. I think some parents will believe, 'No. No. This won't happen to my child. I trust them. They're not that type of person.' But if you're not there, in their lives, you're not communicating with them. You don't truly know."

Professor Bauman agrees. You need to be savvy with the latest technology.

Talk to your kids about it and know who they're interacting with through social media.


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