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10-Year-Old Commits Suicide After Being Bullied: How to Prevent & Respond

Cyber Safety Cop Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A mother and father in Colorado say their 10-year-old daughter committed suicide over video of a fight with an alleged bully. Preventing a tragedy like this comes down to knowing the signs and know how to respond.

Ashawnty Davis, was only in fifth grade. Her parents said she was a happy girl until everything changed at the end of October when she was involved in a fight after school. It was her first schoolyard fight and it was recorded by another student and posted on an app called Musical.ly.

The video shows Ashawnty and another student fighting, while other kids watched. Ashawnty's mother, Latoshia Harris, says her daughter had been confronting the girl who had been bullying her. " her father, Anthony Davis, said she was devastated when she found out that it had made it to Musical.ly (the minimum age for Musical.ly is 13-years-old). Two weeks later they found her hanging in her closet. After two weeks in Intensive Care, she passed away. Ashawnty was seemingly another victim of 'bullycide,' suicide caused by bullying. (WGNTV.com)

The number one safety factor in a child's life is a parent who asks them, "how are you," or "what's going on?" These are the opportunities where a child can share their feelings, successes, and especially challenges. The first step to preventing a similar tragedy in your home is awareness and identification of the warning signs. Secondly, if you learn your child is a victim of bullying, you must respond:

Signs a Child is Being Bullied

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide

How to Support a Bullied Child

  • Listen and focus on the child. Learn what’s been going on and show you want to help.
  • Assure the child that bullying is not their fault.
  • Know that kids who are bullied may struggle with talking about it. Consider referring them to a school counselor, psychologist, or other mental health service.
  • Give advice about what to do. This may involve role-playing and thinking through how the child might react if the bullying occurs again.

Follow-up with the school, if it happened on the school campus, or with local law enforcement if a crime was committed.

When Bullying Becomes a Crime

  • Physically assaulting someone
  • Harassing someone especially if the harassment is based on gender or racism
  • Making violent threats/death threats
  • Making obscene and harassing phone calls and texts
  • Sexting/Revenge porn
  • Child pornography
  • Stalking someone
  • Taking a photo of someone in a place where they expect privacy
  • Impersonating a real person online
  • Hacking/hijacking a social media account

Get educated

Social media and technology is a moving target. Parents must know what is happening in their child's digital world. Subscribe to Cyber Safety Cop’s free newsletter that will let you know when there is a new app or online issue parents need to know about.

Attend a Cyber Safety Parent Seminar near you. If you can’t find a seminar near you, learn how to host a seminar at your school or organization.

Get the companion guide to every device your child is using to connect to the internet and other people online - the step-by-step guide to making your family safe online, “Parenting in the Digital World.”

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