12 and 14 Year-Olds Charged With Felony Aggravated Stalking
LAKELAND, Fla.(CNN) -- An extraordinary measure by a Florida sheriff to crack down on bullies.
Two girls -- ages 14 and 12 -- were arrested for stalking a 12-year-old who killed herself last month.And now the Polk County Sheriff, Grady Judd is issuing a challenge to parents everywhere.
Rebecca Sedwick would have been 13 this Saturday. But last month after what authorities say was a year of being bullied, the middle school student jumped to her death from the top an abandoned concrete plant in Lakeland, Florida. Now her mom says, there is some peace for Rebecca.
"Justice is finally being served," Tricia Norman, Rebecca Sedwick's mother said. Something is finally being done about these girls that were bullying her. That's all she ever wanted was somebody to listen and do something about it."
What the Sheriff's Department in Polk County did about it was arrest two girls, one 12, the other 14. Both have been charged with felony aggravated stalking. The 12-year-old has been released to her parent's custody. The older one is being held.
They were picked up hours after authorities say the 14-year-old posted on Facebook: "yes ik i bullied rebecca nd she killed herself but idgaf." The attorney representing the 14-year-old says her client didn't even have access to Facebook at the time.
"She denies them," Andrea DeMichael, attorney for 14-year-old said. "She says that this is not as clear cut as it seems that these things that were posted on Facebook recently were not by her."
It all started over a boy, authorities say. The 14-year-old, they say, didn't like that Rebecca had once dated a boy she was now dating. It escalated from there, with much of it on social media. Police found the following messages to Rebecca.
"you should die." and "why don't you go kill yourself."
Rebecca's mom transferred her to another school but the taunting continued.
"I remember telling Rebecca don't listen to them they are just jealous of you and she said, 'you're just my mom you have to say that'", Norman said.
Experts say social media has allowed bullying to become 24-7. Kids can't escape it. As they did in this case, authorities are now arresting juveniles more frequently to try and curb the problem.
"I can tell you that all of us that worked that case and worked around that case, we have lost a lot of sleep over that child dying needlessly and we want to see things change," Sheriff Grady Judd Polk County, Florida said. "We want never (hitting the podium) ever ever have to investigate a case like this again. Not only here but anyplace."
Rebecca's memorial Facebook page with hearts reads: "Stop bullying. No one deserves to feel worthless."
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