12-year-old Jefferson City girl bullied online

School officials: Fake account was set up to harrass child

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Jefferson City Public School officials said Thursday they are going to start hosting more Internet Safety Nights after a 12-year-old Thomas Jefferson Middle School girl was bullied and told to kill herself.

The bullying occurred on the mobile phone app. It allows users to ask friends about any topic.

But for the 12-year-old girl, the app turned into a nightmare when other users started asking her to kill herself. The girl's parents found out about the bullying through a photo on Instagram.

ABC 17 News talked exclusively with the girl's parents, Shane and Chris Landis.

They said they were horrified when they learned what was being said about their daughter.

"I just can't believe that they can say stuff like that and have no remorse about it because she is still getting bullied at school," said Shane Landis.

They told ABC 17 News the school district wasn't holding anyone responsible.

However, the district said administrators found it very easy to create fake names on the app and the users were using false identities.

"What they couldn't do was nail down who instigated this case of bullying," said Mallory McGowin with Jefferson City Public Schools.

Therefore, they couldn't tell exactly who was behind the online bullying.

Officials say law enforcement can obtain the IP addresses of the users and that is something the Landis family would like to see happen.

"I'd like the school cop to get a hold of the internet site and see if they can find out who is making this account," said Shane.

Tina Meier, whose daughter committed suicide in 2006 after being bullied online, was just in the capital city three weeks ago to speak with students about bullying.

She says situations like this can spiral out of control.

"These things can have some tragic endings and we can to make sure you know where to go or how to respond when you get a negative message," said Meier.

Jefferson City Public Schools officials say they will revisit the issue of bullying.

"Ultimately what we realized after this incident as a district is that we need to host more internet safety nights for students and their parents to really understand we really let them know the ins and outs of what their words can do," said McGowin.

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