A search for answers in this age of cyberbullying - FOX 13 News

A search for answers in this age of cyberbullying

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LAKELAND (FOX 13) -

Not too many years ago, kids didn't have to worry about cyberbullies. Now, they do.

Witness what just happened in Polk County. Twelve year-old Rebecca Sedwick committed suicide after bullies harassed her at school and on her smartphone.

In the wake of that heart wrenching incident, Verizon just held a panel discussion at John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg. The goal was to teach kids how to protect themselves.

Officer Jerry Luttmann, a school resource officer, said kids should tell their parents whenever they feel even the least bit uncomfortable with a message they have been sent. He also said parents should check their kids' cell phones, whether the kids like it or not.

Luttmann said many parents are lulled into a false sense of security.

"They believe every child is doing the right thing on the internet, when they're not," he told FOX 13.

Another panelist told the kids about what happened to her daughter in 2009. Donna Faye Witsell said cyberbullies targeted her daughter, Hope, and wouldn't let up.

Hope became more and more depressed, and a few weeks after the messages began, she committed suicide in Ruskin.

"I think about the beauty she was," Witsell recalled. "I think about the joy she brought to us."

Cyberbullying may be more common than you think. According to one study, one out of every two kids has been cyber bullied.

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