An 8th grader in Yucaipa, California may have killed herself after a bully told her to do so, according to a relative who spoke to the media in January 2018.
Classmates of the girl at Mesa View Middle School in Calimesa, California saw Rosalie, 13, being bullied by three students and heard a female ringleader tell her to commit suicide just before she hung herself on Nov. 28. This was according to the girl’s 34 year old cousin, Star Lazcano-Valadez.
One of the students who heard the conversation told Lazcano-Valadez about it at her funeral on Dec. 20, 2017. The cousin stated that the classmate told her it was the one girl who really caused the teen to end her own life. According to the student, the girl told the deceased teen: “You should just go kill yourself.”
That student at the funeral and three others who were with her would not answer questions from the media; there is a pending lawsuit against the school district. One woman stated they had not spoken to the police and confirmed that bullying is what may have led to the girl’s death. Lazcano-Valdez also stated at the funeral that Rosalie was experiencing a high level of bullying on social media.
Detectives representing the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office have conducted interviews with friends, family, school officials and several students. None of those people interviewed said that any classmate told the girl to commit suicide.
Rosalie’s parents, who announced in December their attention to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Yucaipa Calimesa Joint Unified School District, have cooperated with the investigation generally, police said, but have not provided proof that indicated the teen was being bullied on a regular basis.
Cyberattacks Can Happen 24/7
After this California teen’s tragic suicide, psychologists and other experts are urging children to tell an adult what is going on if they are being bullied in person or online. Experts also are warning parents that children growing up in the broadband digital age are being hit constantly with gossip, bullying, rumors and hate speech in person and electronically. The online attacks can go on constantly, and it is very easy for the attacks to grow in number and ferocity, given the ease of social sharing.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Crime Prevention Program Coordinator Clark Morrow noted that most parents do not know this is going on in social media. And most parents do not understand how difficult and depressing it can be for children.
Morrow added that teens and children may not want to tell adults about the apps and sites they are using, but he encouraged parents and other adults to be aware of what their children are up to in social media. There are hundreds of different apps and sites that can be used to bully children, he said. One of the most notorious is ask.fm, which was linked recently to several suicides, including 12 year-old Rebecca Sedwick from Florida. The girl threw herself off a factory tower in 2013 because of cyberbullying.
Other dangerous apps include After School, Burnbook, tango.me, Wishbone and Slingshot. Saharah.com is a popular new website from Saudi Arabia that is commonly used for bullying and hate speech.
What parents should know is these apps may appear harmless on the surface; Saharah.com states its purpose is to ‘improve friendship by discovering strengths and ways you can improve.’ But it is very often used to spread rumors and verbal abuse among young people. Like many sites and apps, it is simple to hide behind anonymous account usernames and avatars. Kids, like adults, will say things online that they would never say to another person’s face.
People who engage in hateful and abusive posts online behind anonymous accounts often feel desensitized and do not feel there will be any consequence, so they continue to do it. And children and teens often will stay up for hours at night to see what things are being said about them and their classmates.
It is clear this is a major problem; the CDC reported in 2017 that teen suicides among girls are the highest they have been in 40 years. Morrow believes cyberbullying is the reason. Also, many children feel their own lives do not measure up to all the happy things they see other people posting on social media.
A Noose Ended Rosalie’s Life: Investigators
Police say that after months of relentless online and in person abuse from classmates, Rosalie hung herself in her bedroom. She was declared brain dead on Dec. 1. The attorney for the family said other children said she was ugly, had terrible teeth, and was a ‘slut’ who had venereal diseases.
County detectives said they are still following leads and are analyzing her phone and computer records. If police can confirm that a classmate did tell the girl to kill herself, it is possible that criminal charges could be filed. While criminal charges in these cases are unusual, it is possible. A 20 year old in Massachusetts was convicted on involuntary manslaughter charges in 2017 and was sentenced to three years in county jail after she encouraged her boyfriend to commit suicide.
- Teen May Have Killed Herself After Bully Told Her To, Relative Says. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/2018/01/07/teen-may-have-killed-herself-after-bully-told-her-to-relative-says/