Sexual Assault, Cyberbulling, and Suicide: A Tragic Triangle

Yes, it’s true. Yet another precious child has fallen victim to cyberbullying, and in the very worst way possible. Canadian teen Rehtaeh Parsons was first sexually assaulted, then viciously cyberbullied, and tragically hung herself last week. The story is all too familiar these days. Rehtaeh’s name is now added to the growing list of teenage girls who fall victim to criminal activity and are then made to suffer the consequences of someone else’s heinous acts.

Amanda Todd. Audrie Pott. And now Rehtaeh Parsons. As we, along with parents around the globe read these horrific stories, we can only wonder when and how it will stop before another name is added to the list. No one wants to think that their own daughter could be in danger of such atrocities, but it’s doubtful that Carol Todd or Leah Parsons or Sheila Pott ever imagined such a fate for their bright, beautiful daughters either.

Amanda, Audrie, and Rehtaeh are gone. There’s nothing that their parents, or their attackers, or anyone else can do to bring them back. The only thing we can do is learn from their experiences.

Parents: Talk to your children about appropriate behavior, online and offline.

Kids: Look after one another, and speak up if something terrible is happening to you or someone you know.

Teachers: Teach kids about online safety. It’s part of a new skill called digital literacy that all children need to know.

As heartbreaking and unimaginable as these tragedies seem, we can’t stand by and do nothing while another teen is victimized or suffers in silence. We all have to work together to break this chain of events that all too often ends in the senseless death of a child.

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