Were in the world do kids learn this stuff?
By LAURA RIPARBELLI
A 12-year-old Washington girl was sentenced on Wednesday to probation and community service for a cyberstalking incident in which she and another 11-year-old girl doctored a classmate's Facebook account with explicit photos and solicitations for sex.
But the mother of the victim, also 12, said she has "mixed feelings" about the sentencing of the girls who hacked her daughter's Facebook page, and she isn't satisfied with the judge's ruling.
"We wrote a letter to the judge and we requested that she have no access to social media for the full term of her probation. The judge felt that it would be fine for her to be on with parental supervision," said Tara Cote, of Issaquah, Wash.
The 12-year-old, who pleaded guilty and whose name has not been released, was charged with Cyberstalking and Computer Trespass First Degree. She was sentenced to six months of probation and 20 hours of community service, along with mandatory adult supervision of all computer usage, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
Cote said she wants the tween to have cyber bullying-specific therapy.
"Both girls went online and used social media to do damage and used it as a weapon? Regular therapy will not tell you how to not abuse the Internet," said Cote.
The King County attorney's office did not return a call from ABC News requesting comment.
The girl issued an apology in court.
"I just feel really bad because I know how it feels to be bullied and it's not a good feeling and she didn't deserve to be treated at way at all," the girl said through sniffles, according to ABC News affiliate KOMO.
If the conditions of the sentence are met, the charges will be dismissed. An 11-year-old girl was also charged earlier this month in connection with the case and ordered to do community service. If she completes the hours, the charges against her will also be dismissed.
The incident occurred on March 18 after students at Issaquah Middle School Elementary were let out early from school. Cote said that from around 11 a.m. to around 5:30 p.m., her daughter's Facebook was hacked into by two classmates and former friends, one of whom knew her daughter's password due to a previous login.
- If she knew the password, then it's not technically hacking.
A photo of the victim was posted, and a knife and blood aimed at her head along with a set of horns were doctored into the picture. The word "slut" was written across the bottom, and an image of condoms hanging on a clothes wire was also posted.
The girls then reportedly sent out messages to people the girl's Facebook chat asking for sexual favors and posted sexually explicit comments on other users' walls.
"I don't even know how to express how my daughter feels right now," said Cote. "[She] doesn't like to leave our place. She's going to therapy right now over this."
Organizations like Web Wise Kids, which works to help parents keep their children safe on the Internet, have seen an increase in cyber bullying over the last two years.
Web Wise Kids CEO Judi Westberg Warren said that although bullying has always been an issue, the Internet and technology have opened up an entirely new playing field.
"Unfortunately we are really seeing an increase in bullying. It's the same thing that's always been but the problem with cyber bullying is that the impact is so tremendous compared to when it used to be just in one school, or one community," said Warren.
Cote said the bullying is nothing new for her daughter and began three years ago. Attempts to get the attention of school officials resulted in the principal sitting the two girls next to each other at lunch time, she said.
"It's been ongoing. I had no empathy for that child crying because she cries every time she gets caught? she runs her family, her parents have no restraints on her," said Cote, who lives in the same neighborhood as the 12-year-old and her family.