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14 April 2013

Canada: 17-Year-Old Girl Kills Self After Rape Photo Goes Viral

After being raped at age 15 by 4 boys and then bullied on the social media and at her school, 17-year-old Rehtaeh hanged herself. Please sign the Care2 petition asking the Canadian police to conduct a thorough investigation into her death. 

17-Yr-Old Girl Kills Self After Rape Photo Goes Viral
by Judy Molland, Care2.com, 10 April 2013

If the Steubenville rape case broke your heart and made you mad, you may not want to read on.

Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old young woman from Nova Scotia, Canada, hanged herself in her bathroom last Thursday. On Sunday night, April 7, her family decided to take her off life support because she had injured herself so badly.

Her mother, Leah Parsons, has set up a Facebook page for her, where she explains:

This page is dedication to my wonderful Daughter who was smart, beautiful, and full of life with a deep compassion to animals. The Person Rehtaeh once was all changed one dreaded night in November 2011. She went with a friend to another’s home. In that home she was raped by four young boys… one of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh’s school and community where it quickly went viral.

At Cole Harbour District High School Rehtaeh started getting bullied on social media and from her classmates. She moved from Cole Harbour to Halifax in an attempt to start over.

And when her mother contacted the police, here’s what happened.

From The Chronicle Herald:

Parsons said she was unhappy with what she saw of the investigation.

“They didn’t even interview the boys until much, much later. To me, I’d think you’d get the boys right away, separate them.”

When it came to the photo or photos taken that night, “nothing was done about that because they couldn’t prove who had pressed the photo button on the phone,” she said.

She was told that the distribution of the photos is “not really a criminal issue, it’s more of a community issue,” she said.

“Even though she was 15 at the time, which is child pornography.”

Isn’t child pornography enough of a reason to continue the investigation?

Surely even more so, now that this young woman has taken her own life. However, The Vancouver Sun is reporting Nova Scotia’s justice minister, Ross Landry, as saying he does not plan to order a review of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation that concluded there were no grounds to lay charges against the four boys who allegedly sexually assaulted Rehtaeh Parsons. Landry supposedly believes that the police have followed all the proper procedures, and there are no grounds for further action.

As a parent and a teacher I am heartbroken for Retaeh and her family, but as a fellow human being and a journalist, I am appalled that I am yet again writing about the terrible consequences of cyberbullying.

Rehtaeh Parsons joins numerous other teens who have killed themselves under similar circumstances. Remember Amanda Todd and the video she posted? Or 15-year-old Jadin Bell, whose brief life was cut short by bullying? There are so many of them, and we must do something.

If you agree that the tragic story of Retaeh Parsons must not be covered up, please sign our petition, demanding that the Canadian police conduct a thorough investigation into her death.

And if you know anyone who needs help, please direct them to:

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK: a confidential, 24/7 free hotline.


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