Bullying turns deadly

Among the most heart-wrenching and deeply troubling stories in the news last week was that of a 12-year-old Florida girl who committed suicide after being bullied for nearly a year.

Investigators are looking into whether charges can be filed against some of the 15 or so girls who ganged up on Rebecca Ann Sedwick. Her diary and computer are full of evidence of mind-numbing cruelty by the other girls. Some urged her to commit suicide.

In December, Sedwick was hospitalized for three days after cutting her wrists. At the time, she said she did so because of bullying.

So pervasive was the harassment at her middle school that finally, her mother withdrew her and began home-schooling the girl.

The enormous amount of bullying Sedwick suffered – and the sometimes public manner in which it was delivered – poses a question: How was it that no one did anything effective to stop the harassment?

Appropriately, most school systems have anti-bullying programs and policies. Almost undoubtedly, so did the district in which Sedwick attended school. But the girl is dead, a victim of vicious attacks by others who had to have known the danger in what they were doing.

How could it have happened? Administrators and teachers in local school districts should think about that, and we trust those same teachers and officials will continue to improve and enforce anti-bullying programs already in place. We don’t want a dead child to be our wake-up call that we weren’t doing enough.