• Mean girls target 13-year-old

    Date: 06.27.12 | by Judge Tom.

    “Words hurt. Words can kill.” These are the words of Mary Ehmke, the mother of 13-year-old Rachel Ehmke. Rachel was described as outgoing, athletic and friendly, but others at Kasson-Mantorville Middle School in Minnesota saw her differently.

    It started in the fall of 2011. Reportedly, Rachel had never kissed a boy, but a group of girls referred to her as a prostitute. “Slut” was written across her gym locker. In April, 2012, someone who wasn’t a student at the school sent an anonymous text to Rachel’s classmates encouraging them to get her to leave the school. The message was explicit and stated “forward this to everyone you know.”

    Rachel’s father became aware of the bullying but she pleaded with him not to contact the school for fear of worsening the situation. Two days later, Rachel hung herself. Her parents found a note saying “I’m fine = I wish I could tell you how I really feel,” alongside a picture of a broken heart.

    Rachel (Facebook)

    The case is under investigation but Rachel’s parents aren’t asking for anyone to be prosecuted. “They’re kids. They made some horrible decisions. If these kids would’ve known this would happen, I’m pretty sure they never, ever would have done what they did. Sadly enough, . . .they will carry this bag their whole life,” commented Rick Ehmke, Rachel’s father. A month later, local teens and twentysomethings organized a Walk for Rachel. The Ehmkes participated and pledged their ongoing support to educate others about bullying and suicide.

    We all must think about the consequences of our actions: speech and writings including emails, text messages, chat room comments and tweets. As Rachel’s mom said, words do hurt and can be fatal. Think B4 U Post.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    2 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Roxy | Attorney in Jenkintown Pa
      Mon, 02 Jul 2012 at 12:17

      This should be an eye-opener for the people who engage on bullying. There are people who may not be that tough to bear the pain inflicted on them and nothing can be better than to make sure that they will get the justice that they deserve.
      Thank you for your comments, Roxy. We hope these tragic stories are eye-openers as well.

    • Melvin Band
      Thu, 12 Jul 2012 at 11:56

      Dear Judge, this article will without question save lives. I am a retired public school teacher who is on the Anti-Bullying Committee in the school district where I live in Pa. At a recent meeting the question came up as to what to do if a child confides in you( teacher/guidance counselor) that he is a victim of bullying, but doesn’t want you to approach the bully for fear that it will make the situation worse just as Rachel pleaded with her father. The reply from one of the guidance counselors was to abide by the student’s wishes. In effect the adult also becomes a victim. I will show this article to the committee so that in the future the alleged bully will be confronted and the situation will not end in tragedy.
      We’re glad you find it useful. We must work together to protect our youth and redirect known bullies. That’s the mission of “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” (Free Spirit Publishing, 2010). Thanks for writing us. -ATJ.info

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