Online teasing leads to teen's suicide
WILLIFORD, AR (KAIT) - A 12-year old Sharp County girl committed suicide on September 26, 2009. Her mother, Star Chapps, says she was being teased at school. Then the rumors and name calling began on her MySpace page.
Sarah Lynn Butler, a seventh grader at Williford, had just been voted Queen for her upcoming Fall Festival. Her mother says she had never seen her happier. Star says her daughter was like many other 12 year olds.
"She was very happy, you know always laughing and giggling and cutting' up and playing around and she had lots of friends."
And just like many of her friends, Sarah had a MySpace page.
"She was constantly on it. Talking to friends... she even made me a page so she could send me little messages."
Star says she often checked her daughter's page to make sure there wasn't anything inappropriate being sent or received.
"I noticed one day that she was getting some bad messages about rumors at school saying she was a slut. She would send some bad ones too, but I didn't think it was too bad."
But as a precaution, Starr says she talked with Sarah about it.
"When she started getting these bad messages, she deleted me as a friend so I couldn't read her MySpace anymore."
On Saturday, September 26, after a morning out with her family, Sarah wanted to stay home while her family ran errands. Her mother says she loved to read and had just gotten a new book. But during that time alone, Sarah logged on to her MySpace.
The last message Sarah read was from someone her mother said had been talking bad about her.
"It basically said that she was easily forgotten, and that she was just a stupid little naive girl and nobody would miss her."
Starr says the returned home at 2 that afternoon and found that Sarah had hanged herself. Her parents found a suicide note that said she couldn't handle what others were saying about her.
Now she's urging parents to look closer at what your child is doing on social networking sites.
"If there is anything at all that looks like somebody is giving your child a hard time, then it needs to be addressed immediately before they have the chance to drive them over the edge."
Sharp county Sheriff Dale Weaver about Sarah's death and the events leading up to it. He would not agree to an on-camera interview, but did say, "There is not a current investigation being conducted by the Prosecutor's Office or State Police."
Sheriff Weaver also commented on Arkansas' Cyber-bullying laws and this incident in particular, "The cyber-bullying legislation in place now should be looked at again."
We spoke with Former State Representative Don House, who helped enact Arkansas' Anti-bullying program. He says,"We don't need more legislation, there's enough legislation. It just needs to be enforced."
Prosecuting Attorney, Henry Boyce, contacted Region 8 News about this incident and said the case is still open for his review.
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