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The St. Petersburg Times ran a story Sunday about a 13 year old girl who committed suicide over a “sexting” incident (or rather, she committed suicide after being unfairly punished and teased for taking and sending nude photos).

To summarize, Hope Witsell, a student at Beth Shields Middle School in Florida, had sent a nude picture of herself to an older boy she liked.  The picture got sent to almost everyone at the middle school and even the local high school.  Hope had to endure a ridiculous amount of teasing – kids calling her “whore” and “slut” – and even had to sacrifice her position as a student advisor for her school’s chapter of the FFA, which was a real blow to her.  Her parents punished her (although it was nothing overly harsh) and tried to get her counseling.  A few days before her suicide, Hope was sent to see the school’s social worker after someone noticed cuts on her legs.  She signed a contract saying she would stop self-harming, and the case was closed.  Her parents were never notified.  The next day, Hope hung herself from her bed canopy.

This is the second reported sexting-related suicide in America.  The first casualty was Jessie Logan, an 18 year old student in Cincinnati who sent her boyfriend nude photos of herself.  When they broke up, he forwarded them to others.  Jessie had to endure the taunting and name-calling (she was referred to as “the porn queen”), had drinks dumped on her at school, and was thrown out of a few graduation parties.  Even though she had previously taken a stand against the torture – even going so far as to appear on a local television show to speak to other girls about the dangers of sexting – it eventually got to be too much and she killed herself two months after the incident.

There are a few reasons why I felt compelled to write about this.   Read the rest of this entry »

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