Two middle school students in Florida have been charged with cyberstalking weeks after their classmate committed suicide, police said.
Gabriella Green, 12, was found dead at her parents’ Panama Beach County home on January 10 after complaining to her mother of ‘girl drama’ and saying she had been getting ‘particularly heavy’ threatening messages.
Panama City Beach officials announced on Monday that two 12-year-old students at Surfside were charged with cyberstalking in connection to the girl’s death.
Authorities did not release the identities of the children because they are minors.
Investigators said they interviewed the children with their parents’ permission, after learning of potential cyberbullying against Gabriella.
The kids allegedly confessed to sending their classmate harassing messages ‘knowing that said conduct would result in emotional distress’.
Authorities said cell phones and social media accounts were examined as part of their investigation. Police issued a warning to parents to closely monitor what their kids are seeing and sharing online.
‘These specific cell phone applications have been found to be the root of several dangerous and negative situations, such as cyberbullying, sexting and potential access by online predators,’ police said in a news release.
According to police, their investigation did not reveal cyberbullying was the sole cause of Gabriella’s death just that it occurred at the time of the death.
The medical examiner is still working to determine the girl’s cause of death.
Gabriella’s mom, Tanya Green, told the Panama City New Herald that the arrests ‘were gratifying’ but she blames the school for not stepping in when she reported that her daughter was being targeted.
‘It’s going to help others at her school,’ she told the newspaper. ‘It’s going to start at her school. It’s going to help others around the world.’
Tanya Green previously told the New Herald that she and her husband, Shane Green, had decided to pull Gabriella out of Surfside the day she killed herself.
Tanya Green said they were getting ready for a church event on January 10 when her daughter complained of ‘girl drama’ saying the messages had been ‘particularly heavy’ that day. About 40 minutes later, the girl was found dead in a closet at her parents’ home.
Gabriella, who loved softball and wrestling, was home on suspension at the time of her death. Her mother said Gabriella had been acting out in class because of the bullying.
Surfside Middle School has not addressed the charges two of their students are facing, but said in a statement that they are mourning the loss of Gabriella.
‘Our hearts go out to her family, her friends and to everyone at Surfside Middle School,’ Superintendent Bill Husfelt said in a statement on Monday.
‘This is an absolutely tragic situation and our counselors have been at Surfside since we first found out about Gabbie’s death. The counselors have been, and will continue to be, an invaluable resource for the students, and faculty and staff, at this difficult time and they will be available as long as they are needed.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Minyvonne Burke