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Cyberbullying prompts teen to attempt suicide

PAYSON, Utah (ABC 4 News) - A cyberbully is targeting teens in Utah County.
"They just don't get it. I could have lost my daughter that night and what an impact that would have made for me and my family just because somebody feels like they need to say and do mean things," -Alisha Yates.
PAYSON, Utah (ABC 4 News) - A cyberbully is targeting teens in Utah County. The culprit posted nasty comments over the pictures of forty teens in the Payson area. 

"I've been called a slut, a whore," said Taneisha Yates.

"My first reaction was to just start crying," said Shyanne Spencer.

One attack reads, "Why don't guys like me? Cuz, You're fat and gross."

Another attack reads, "I love looking like crap all the time."

"I don't really have friends.  I'm just trying to find someone to be around," said Taneisha.  "I got text messages that weren't very nice I guess," she continued.

She says she reached her braking point in November. " They were just bringing me down and I couldn't handle it anymore," said Taneisha.

She reached for the medicine cabinet in an attempt to kill herself, "I took some pills and then went to sleep."  She wanted to die because of the pain, but woke the next morning and returned to school where she says the bullying continued.

Her mother says she feels unable to protect her daughter. "They just don't get it.  I could have lost my daughter that night and what an impact that would have made for me and my family just because somebody feels like they need to say and do mean things," said Alisha Yates.

ABC 4 sat down with a first amendment attorney.  "Is cyberbullying illegal in Utah?" asked ABC 4's Noah Bond. "It's more of a gray area, but courts have imposed liability," Jeff Hunt replied.

It's a gray area because Utah law only targets online bullies who work from school property. 

Hunt says victims can take action by contacting the bully or the website and ask for the content to be removed.  If this doesn't work the victim can hire a lawyer to send a cease and desist order.  It will cost between $100 and $300.

The parents who sat down with ABC 4 say they're not satisfied with the best solutions available in Utah.  "That's going to stay with my daughter forever and it's hard for me," said Nicolli Bascom.

The cyber attacks against forty Utah County teens were up for only a few hours; enough time for the attacks to be shared and spread across the internet where they will remain for a long time. 

"I just wish they could go to the pictures and track the person," said Shyanne.

Payson Police are actively investigating this case and the Nebo School District is working closely with police.  

Parents say it's hard to get answers to their questions.  "That's telling me nothings going to be taken care of.  Nothings going to get done," Alisha said.

The cyberbully who targeted the forty Utah County teens promised to strike again.

"I'm just scared because I don't want more people to hate me," Taneisha said.

"If something isn't done now I'm going to see this through to the end.  I'm going to make sure something is done," said Nicolli.

"Somebody needs to step up to the plate and take responsibility to actually do something to stop cyberbullying," Alisha said.

Click on the attached link to get help if you or someone you know is a victim of cyberbullying.




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