A father is calling the state of Indiana negligent after his …
Updated: Wednesday, 17 Feb 2010, 6:20 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 17 Feb 2010, 5:54 PM EST
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - A father is calling the state of Indiana negligent after his daughter tried to commit suicide. Our I-Team 8 investigation shows you growing concern about what the state isn't doing.
Police and prosecutors say they can do little to keep your child from being bullied online. So how come 16 other states can?
It's especially concerning when so many kids across the country are cyberbullied into suicide.
I-Team 8 first took you into the world of Indiana cyberbullies in 2006.
Allison told us then, “It’s easy. You can do it to anybody. They don’t even have to know you."
Our investigation was a wake up call to a lot of parents. But has anything changed in those four years? Did the state of Indiana listen to the call?
I-Team 8 talked to one girl who remains anonymous who says, “we saw txt messages you're a whore, you're a slut."
For the high school senior, the cyberbullying started with one girl but quickly spread to hateful messages from people she didn’t even know.
She says, “Five months of harassing. You can’t even imagine how that is. Getting Facebook messages, phone calls, text messages. It never stopped.”
In the world of cyberbullies, just one click is all it takes and a humiliating message is sent to hundreds of other kids in one night. It can follow the child for a lifetime. It got to the point she would watch her walk to her car.
She told us, “Yeah, she would watch my boyfriend walk me to my car.”
Then she found the mom was not only involved, but in the car with the girl doing the bullying.
So, she deleted her Facebook account, but the bullying “just never went away”. It continued. It intensified.
She says, “I would come home and if I got a message, I would cry. Even if I didn’t get a message I would come home and cry.”
It became a breaking point and she confesses she had suicidal thoughts, saying, “I felt as thought I didn’t want to live anymore. I was going to harm myself.”
The insults, the hurt, the humiliation all became too much to handle.
She says, “I felt like I was just done with life. If people are going to take it to that measure and hurt someone like that, you just want to give up.”
|Avoiding Cyber Bullying|
Her father took the case to Lawrence Police. Detective Matt Miller told I-Team 8 when asked if there was anything that could have been done in Indiana
“It depends on the nature of the bullying. If the bullying had risen to the level of threat to life, in those situations we may have had a criminal act,” said Miller.
Karen Hensel/I-Team 8 asked, “There’s not a lot you can do about it with the laws on the books now?”
Detective Matt Miller said “Unfortunately, no.”
Police are frustrated...and so are prosecutors.
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi says, "I think the laws right now in Indiana are inadequate".
Right now, those who cyberbully can be prosecuted with harassment and intimidation.
But Brizzi says, “It would be great if we had a cyberbullying statute on the books that would help us deal with that kind of behavior.”
Cyberbullying is underreported considering experts say it happens every seven seconds on the Internet. This kind of bullying doesn’t last a few seconds or a few minutes as it does on the school playground.
Thanks to technology it can last hours...days...or even years.
I-Team 8 questions has Indiana not kept up with technology? Senator Wyss says "It's a fact that we haven’t."
Indiana Senator Tom Wyss authored Indiana's first bully law after watching our I-Team 8 investigation that took hidden cameras onto school playgrounds. Wyss watched our video and said "some states lead in this and others follow.”
He agrees Indiana is a follower when it comes to cyberbullying.
Senator Wyss is already vowing to get a cyber bully law in Indiana. It is a protection already in place in 16 other states. In fact, three students in Massachusetts face charges in court this week after they allegedly created a fake Facebook page in another student’s name, using his picture and bad mouthing other students.
Police there say they "take the charges seriously due to the number of cyberbullying incidents nationwide".
Reports say one local girl committed suicide last month after being taunted online. (Source: Newburyport Police Department, Mass)
But in Missouri, there were no cyberbully laws when 13-year-old Megan Meier committed suicide over
the stress from cruel cyberbullies. So they couldn't prosecute the other girl or her mother who posed as a teenage boy to ridicule her. However, federal prosecutors in LA saw the case as a clear cut violation of the consumer fraud and abuse act, saying the mother violated the terms and condition of her MySpace account.
One Central Indiana girl is just trying to get stronger from the humiliation.
She says, “I won’t have my Facebook back until I know I’m ready. Until I know that I’m strong enough to not let these people get to me.”
They almost did. She talked with us just two weeks after trying to commit suicide.
If you are concerned about your child being cyberbullied look at their Facebook, their text messages. It is your phone, your computer...not theirs.
Secondly, there is cyberbully alert software you can put on your child’s computer .
If your child receives a threat online he can click on the icon at the top and send an immediate message to a computer or cell phone.
The software also immediately captures a shot of the active screen which is stored in a cyberbully alert folder in the computers my documents folder.
Friday...I-Team 8 looks back at the investigation that prompted Indiana’s first bully law.
Is it strong enough?
Listen to Garrett’s story Friday at 5:30 p.m. before you answer.