Teen rape cases magnified by social media, cyber bullying - New York News

Teen rape cases magnified by social media, cyber bullying

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

In one month, two teenage girls have taken their own lives after their reported rapes were plastered on social media. Next, came the vicious online attacks, viral videos and cruel rumors. The many platforms of cyber bullying are becoming predecessors to fatal tragedies.

University of Chicago Medical Center's Sharon Hirsh warns parents.

"Since we have more social media outlets now cyber bullying is becoming more prevalent," Dr. Hirsch explains.

For 15-year-old Audrie Pott and 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, the traumatizing sexual assaults were amplified by social media's reach.

Police say Pott hanged herself 8 days after of her sexual assault while she was passed out drunk at a party were posted online by peers. Before taking her life, the Californian wrote on Facebook that her world was ruined after the worst day ever.

"If you are the person that's being bullied online, then you make sure that you reach out for help," says Dr. Hirsch.

In Pott's case, after 7 months of investigation, three teens were arrested on Thursday on felony sexual assault charges.

"I have a real problem when you video crime and share it," says Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith. "Kids need to get smarter, what's right or wrong."

For Canadian teen Rehteah Parsons, the line of justice is blurry. Police say the four boys accused of raping her and e-mailing a picture of the attack to classmates, have yet to be charged due to lack of evidence.

And then there's the Steubenville, Ohio tragedy. The unnamed victim was raped by two football players while drunk at a house party. Pictures and video of the assault landed on several social media sites.

Blogger Alexandria Goddard was one of the first to expose the postings leading to arrests and charges.

"Kids are not communicating face to face anymore, they're doing it all on text, on Twitter on Facebook and when you don't have human contact like that you are not learning proper social cues nor are you learning proper social boundaries," says Goddard.

Many of these victims have turned to social media to raise awareness and share their stories with hopes of helping other young people avoid becoming victims.

In the Stuebenville case, grand jury selection begins on Monday and they'll begin presenting evidence about two weeks thereafter to determine if there were people who failed to report the rape.

Since the incident, they've expanded services for rape victims across Ohio, including providing information and tips to prevent cyber bullying.

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A seminar is taking place on April 17 at 12 p.m. at Saper Law Offices (505 N. LaSalle, Suite 350, Chicago) to discuss the legal aspects of cyber bullying. Guest speakers Adam Sokol of the Illinois AG's office and criminal law attorney and Adam Sheppard of Sheppard Law Firm will answer questions and lend their expertise to the conversation.

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