Cyber-bullying to blame in 12-year-old girl's suicide

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - Tragedy is sparking action after cyber-bullying was blamed in the suicide of a 12-year-old central Florida girl. The incident is serving as a wake-up call much closer to home. 

Behind the keyboard or inside the cell phone, there is a potentially life-and-death battle brewing over bullying. "When you're behind the computer, there's nothing holding you back," said Kayla, a high school junior in West Palm Beach. "Social networking brings people together which can also bring bullies together."

"It's a big problem. It's all you can think about," said Rebecca, 16, who is also a high school student in West Palm Beach. "It's like it's never going to go away - like it's always going to happen," she said. 

Too many teenagers have been on the receiving end of such bullying before. "I'm going to deal with it throughout the rest of my life with what I'm going to do, who I want to be with," said Rebecca. "It's just inevitable." 

On Monday, Rebecca Sedwick, 12, was laid to rest in central Florida. Authorities say she committed suicide after being "terrorized" by as many as 15 girls for nearly a year. No one seemed to know how much Rebecca was dealing with in life - or online. 

"I don't want parents to wait for a tragedy to have those conversations," said Cherie Benjoseph, Co-Founder of Boca Raton-based KidSafe Foundation, Inc . "We're all still pretty naive on many levels," said Benjoseph. "We're all still crossing our fingers and hoping it doesn't happen to our children." 

Benjoseph said that Sedwick's suicide should be a wake-up call to all parents to demand to know what their their kids are really doing online. Keeping computers and phones out of a child's bedroom is another good move, she says, because what teens do online must not be off-limits to parents. "Our children sometimes lead double lives," she said. 

In the Sedwick case, some of the parents of those being investigated say they were not clued in to what their kids were doing online. 

For tips on how you can educate yourself to better protect your children, click here.

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