Police Investigating Possible Cyberbullying In Suicide Of Queens Girl, 12
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Police say a 12-year-old girl who was found hanged left a suicide note that spoke of being bullied online.
Gabrielle Molina was found dead in her Queens Village home Wednesday afternoon by her family. NYPD investigators spent much of the day at the home.
CBS 2 has confirmed that the note Molina left behind said she was “sorry” and claimed she was “cyber bullied.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Thursday that investigators have taken two computers from the home to determine whether online messages may have led to her death. Police were also interviewing her friends and relatives.
Molina attended Jean Nuzzi Intermediate School 109 in Queens Village.
“It’s real. Cyberbullying is real,” I.S. 109 mother Line Hasty told CBS 2′s Don Champion on Thursday afternoon.
She said she’s spoken to her children about bullying.
“I tell them ‘be leaders, don’t be followers. Don’t listen to what people say. Look to God and you’ll be able to move forward,’” Hasty said.
During the day on Thursday, grief counselors were at the school talking to Molina’s classmates.
“Kids need to know that they’re not in the situation by themselves,” student Thomas Meyers told Champion.
Friends said Molina had a big heart but was a big target, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
One classmate with “R.I.P. Gabby” written on her hand said the girl was taunted online and in school.
“You just can’t imagine what would go through some kid’s mind to do it,” a neighbor of the girl’s family told Jones.
Another parent told Jones the kids responsible should be punished.
“I think they should, they should really zone in on each child and find out what the problem is because it’s really horrible,” a mother told Jones.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has vowed to step up efforts to combat all forms of bullying.
“We’re going to be raising that level because it’s something that I want to make sure we continue to focus on and something that I’m much interested in working collectively with our student population about,” said the schools chancellor.
Experts said parents of Molina’s classmates should be on guard after a tragedy like this.
A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found pre-teens who have a classmate who committed suicide were five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, Champion reported.
“The idea just kind of takes root and becomes like an overwhelming obsession sometimes, for no good reason,” Dr. Gilbert Ross with the American Council on Science and Health said.
Walcott has spoken with the family and offered condolences. Education officials did not comment on reports of cyberbullying because of the ongoing investigation.
However, the DOE said it’s increased training and reporting around bullying. There’s also talk about updating discipline code to include social media postings.
Kelly said the investigation is just beginning. He didn’t want to speculate about whether criminal charges could result.
Earlier this week, Walcott announced that the more than 1,700 public schools will hold emergency lessons about hate crimes and anti-bullying efforts before the end of the school year in response to the recent wave on anti-gay attacks.
The 2010 suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi re-energized the topic of online bullying. Clementi jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge after learning his roommate spied on his sexual encounter with another man via webcam.
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