In the weeks leading up to 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwickís suicide in Florida this fall, she was viciously attacked online by other adolescent girls, who told her she was ugly and urged her to ìdrink bleachî and kill herself. Then, after Sedwick jumped to her death from an abandoned silo, a shocking post appeared on the Facebook page of one of her harassers. ìYes IK (I know) I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF (I donít give a (expletive)).î Appalled by the ghastly indifference of the message, the local sheriff arrested the 14-year-old, charging her with aggravated stalking. The girlís parents quickly came forward to insist that their daughterís Facebook account must have been hacked.
She couldnít have posted that message, the parents said, because they carefully monitored her social media interactions.
ìI would check her Facebook every time she would get on it,î the girlís mother told ABC News.
Maybe the posting really was written by someone else. But itís also possible the parents lied to protect their daughter, and if they did, their action raises vexing questions about loyalty and responsibility. Is it OK to lie or break the law to help a close relative?
Among non-human primates, kinship is the primary determiner of whether to cooperate or compete with others. But humans have some unique social constructs: devotion to the state and to society, empathy for victims and a belief in trying to prevent further victimization. These factors can complicate decisions.
Consider the 2011 trial of Casey Anthony, who was charged with murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. One piece of evidence against Casey, who was ultimately found not guilty of the murder charge, involved a search that had been performed on her computer shortly before Cayleeís death. Someone had used the computer to search for ìhow to make chloroformî and ìneck + breaking.î