New trend: Teen rape posts on Facebook
Teen boys in Chicago sexually assault a 12-year-old girl and then post a video of their crime to Facebook. This follows a long line of other high profile rape cases, in which victims have been publicly humiliated through cyber bullying. We take a look at this appalling trend and give advice on online safety.
How many more times will we hear about a teenage rape case making its way onto social media platforms before something changes? Stories like this one, as well as many others, highlight just how social networks are being used for cyber bullying.
Chicago rape case
It was announced last week that 3 teen boys would be tried for the criminal sexual assault of a preteen girl in Chicago.
It is alleged that the girl refused to have sex with one of the boys, Scandale Fritz, after he lured her to his home last December. Fritz, 16, then proceeded to rape the young girl. If this was not enough of an ordeal for the victim, Fritz then ordered the girl to have sex with his friends.
In the video uploaded to Facebook, one of the boys is seen holding a gun. Prosecutors believe that the girl feared for her life if she didn't cooperate.
The victim reported the incident to police and was taken to hospital. Two days later, the sickening video appeared on all three of the boys' Facebook pages.
Find out more about the details in this video
Rape in any context is one of the most despicable things a human being can do. In this case, the culprits have gone one step further to humiliate and demoralise an innocent girl; they made their heinous crime available for the whole world to see. They have also contributed to a Facebook trend of cyber bullying and encouraged others to follow.
Following a trend
This story follows a depressing trend of cyber bullying on Facebook. Recently, Rehtaeh Parsons died in hospital after her rapists distributed photos of her around school and on the internet. She took own life after the social frenzy surrounding her rape became too much for her to take.
Similarly, Audrie Pott committed suicide after evidence of her sexual assault went viral. She had passed out at a party in September 2012 when her attackers took advantage of her vulnerability. Her final chilling post to Facebook said, “The whole school knows…My life is ruined.”
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Facebook's security policies are coming under heavy scrutiny. In the wake of this Chicago case, Facebook released a press statement to Fox saying:
"We work with law enforcement to the extent required by law, and as needed to keep the site and those who use it safe."
Here’s a brief mention of some other cases which highlight the need for Facebook to crack down on cyber bullying.
- In 2010 a gang raped a 16-year-old girl in Vancouver – photos were uploaded to Facebook.
- Recently, a young girl was raped by several men. It was video recorded and uploaded to Facebook in Ohio.
Details of this disturbing case can be watched here
- In August 2011, a girl was repeatedly sexually assaulted by her peers. They then used Facebook to publicly discuss and comment on the incident.
- This year, a rapist’s girlfriend made fake Facebook profiles of her boyfriend’s victims, writing false confessions from them.
- In April this year, a man was charged with the rape of 12-year-old girl in Pennsylvania, after he uploaded naked pictures of her to Facebook.
Watch more on this case below
Cyber bullying and your kids
Social networking sites can easily be taken advantage of in different ways. Whether the cyber bullying focuses on sexual humiliation, orientation, appearance, race or anything else, the threat is real to children.
You should make your child aware of what is not acceptable online. Your child should understand that if something should not be said or done in real life, then neither should it be said or done online. Hurtful comments or discussions online can cause great humiliation and harm.
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Building up a healthy dialogue with your child about their online activity is also essential to ensuring safety. They shouldn't feel reluctant about reporting a problem that they experience or witness online.