Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Grieving parents of Jessica Cleland call for cyber bullying crackdown after their daughter was bullied to death

A family portrait photo of Jessica Cleland.
A family portrait photo of Jessica Cleland.
 
THE heartbroken parents of a teen they say was bullied to death are furious that her tormentors remain unpunished. 

Grieving Michael and Jane Cleland are angry that the two teenage boys who tormented their 19-year-old daughter have not been charged or even questioned by police.

As the first anniversary of Jessica taking her own life approaches, her devastated family have called on Victoria’s Government and police to treat cyber bullying more seriously.

In Facebook messages the vivacious, sensitive Jessica was called a “f...ing sook” and even more offensive terms, and was told she was hated by those she considered friends.

She was bombarded with nasty messages across social media platforms the night ­before she took her own life.

EDITORIAL: FROM ONLINE TAUNTS TO TRAGEDY

Coroner Jacqui Hawkins said in her report in October: “The circumstances of Jessica’s death highlight the important role that social media and other communication technologies can play in young people’s lives. ”

Ms Hawkins found that online bullying was particularly traumatic as there was no escaping it.

“I am satisfied that Facebook and text messaging were problematic for Jessica because easy access to the internet on her phone meant that she was exposed to potentially upsetting communications 24 hours a day ... online chat and SMS create an environment where it is easier for individuals to say hateful and hurtful things without facing the immediate consequences.”

Jessica’s older sister, Amy, said: “You could tell when they were messaging her because she would become really withdrawn.”

The Clelands feel that they have been let down by the system and are particularly disappointed with the police’s failure to fully investigate the online bullying that led to Jessica taking her own life.

“Jess meant a lot to us; this has turned our family upside down,” Mr Cleland said.

“For them to not do anything is like Jess meant nothing to anyone .

“What we would like to see happen is that if someone is cyber bullying somebody and they cause something like this, then they should be held ­accountable for it.”

Jess's last photo pasted on facebook the night before. Picture: Jay Town
Jess's last photo pasted on facebook the night before. Picture: Jay Town
 
Mrs Cleland said the bullies needed to appreciate their actions could have fatal consequences. She likened cyber bullying to culpable driving.

“If you accidentally hit someone in your car you can get manslaughter,” she said.

“What’s the difference if you bully someone and cause them to take their own life?

“They keep saying they’re going to have a big push on cyber bullying and try to knock it on the head, but it seems like it’s too much hard work.”

Family and friends said Jessica was a happy, outgoing young woman who had not shown signs of depression nor mental illness before she was bullied by two former friends.

They said the Kilmore teenager was excited about a new job working with horses during her gap year.
But her demeanour changed dramatically when two former friends started abusing her online through sites including Facebook and Snapchat.

The parents have told the Herald Sun the bullying and “mind games” caused Jessica to withdraw from her circle of friends — even refusing to confide in her older sister.

On Easter Saturday last year Jessica told her mum she was going for a run on land next to their property.

Later that morning a worried Amy called her parents after being made aware of an Instagram picture Jessica had posted with the caption: “I love this place and I am never going to leave.”

The spot where that photo was taken is where Michael discovered his daughter’s body. She was cold to the touch and it was too late to save her.

Despite the coroner’s ­report referring to the bullying as a precipitating factor in her decision to end her life, there have been no charges and no inquest.

The family hope some good can come from their terrible loss and that authorities start treating cyber bullying as seriously as other forms of bullying.

“Social media is only going to get bigger and bigger, and this problem is going to get worse if something isn’t done about it, if we don’t get on top of it now,” Amy said.

“We are hoping that something like this can’t happen again and maybe prevent someone else from going through it.

“Bullies have got to be accountable for their actions.”

Close friend Sally Kurzke said Jessica was a fiercely loyal and sensitive friend.

“You could tell that it (the bullying) hurt her,” she said.

“If you ­attacked her she wouldn’t fight you back, she was so concerned about what other people thought.”

Grieving parents Jane and Michael Cleland with Jess's sister Amy (left) and her best frie
Grieving parents Jane and Michael Cleland with Jess's sister Amy (left) and her best friend Sally (right) holding a photo of Jess. Picture: Jay Town
 
Cyber bullying expert and former police officer Susan McLean said Victoria Police’s failure to seize all of Jessica’s mobile devices would have deeply compromised the ­investigation into the teenager’s death.

“It’s a dereliction of duty; we need police members to pull their fingers out and ­investigate cyber bullying properly,” she said.

“We’ve got good laws, they’re just not well applied.

“The police should have seized all her devices and had them forensically examined.”

Ms McLean was also critical of the police’s failure to seek a warrant and compel Snapchat and Facebook to produce all communication, including deleted messages.

She also believed that the police erred in not interviewing the two teenage ­tormentors named in the coroner’s report.

“The family have every right to be upset; this was a suicide and police need to investigate everything,” Ms McLean said.

“They must take statements from anyone relevant to the case.”

Victoria Police refused to say if the two teen males had been interviewed or whether police would reinvestigate the case.

“It is not appropriate for police to detail every step of the investigative process,” a police spokesman said.
“However, the brief of evidence, once completed, was handed to the coroner in order to ­assist with the ­investigation.”

If you are in need of help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14

heraldsun.com.au 17 Apr 2015

This is how the law is set up in Australia by the (corrupt?) law makers.

You can get away with bullying someone to the point where they commit suicide, and not even get questioned by police.

Looks like it's open slather on the weak..

Thank you Australian law makers.

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