Parents Sue School District After Their 13-Year-Old's Suicide Following Sexting Bullying

Filed under: In The News, Bullying



A Florida school district is being sued by the parents of an eighth grade student who committed suicide in 2009, after being harassed by classmates due to a sexting incident, Reuters reports.

The news service says Donna and Charles Witsell claim Hillsborough County school officials did not take appropriate action after learning their 13-year-old daughter had suicidal thoughts, according to the lawsuit filed this week in Tampa, Fla., federal court.

Hope Witsell hanged herself Sept. 12, 2009, after students viciously bullied her for texting a suggestive photo of herself to a boy, according to the news service.

After her daughter's death, Reuters reports, Donna Witsell found a copy of a "no-harm contract" signed by Hope the day before she took her life. According to the lawsuit, the contract stated that Hope agreed not to attempt suicide and would contact a school social worker if she had suicidal feelings, the news service reports.

The Witsells say the school's social worker failed to alert them -- or the school psychologist, principal, school resource officer or the girl's counselor -- to concerns about Hope, including signs the teen had been cutting herself, Reuters reports.

"The parents accuse the school district of negligence and violating the teen's and their own constitutional rights," Reuters reports, adding that the school district does not comment on pending litigation.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.