A 15-year-old Saratoga High School student, Audrie Pott, hanged herself, according to authorities, after male classmates sexually assaulted her and posted images online. Are local schools and communities doing enough to prevent similar tragedies from happening?
Statewide, 10% of ninth-grade girls report that their gender was the basis of at least one instance of bullying or harassment. And in this part of the East Bay, the rate ranges from 8.2% in the Newark school district to 17.3% in the New Haven school district.
See more local data on gender-based bullying and harassment at the end of this article, and please post your thoughts in the comments below. Full coverage of the Audrie Pott case on Saratoga Patch.
"There are two common elements here that are being repeated across the country – sexual assault by an adolescent and the cyberbullying that follows," Robert Allard, an attorney for Audrie's family, told the San Jose Mercury News.
Three 16-year-old boys were arrested Thursday, seven months after the September attack. Allard said at least three boys took part in multiple sexual acts on Audrie while she lay drunk and unconscious at the home of a friend whose parents where gone for the weekend, according to a story on Saratoga Patch.
At least one photo was taken of Audrie during the assault, and it was distributed by text and email then posted on Facebook, Allard said. On her own Facebook page, Audrie wrote: "They took pictures of me. My life is ruined" and that it was "the worst day ever." She committed suicide eight days after the assault.
An expert in sexual cyberstalking told CBS News' Crimesider that this type of cyberbullying is getting worse: "... as it becomes easier to post or text or comment on a photo, sexual cyber-bulling and cyber-stalking is becoming 'more pervasive, more common, and more acceptable,'" said Danielle Citron, a University of Maryland Frances King Carey School of Law professor.
The arrests in the Audrie Potts tragedy came just days after Rehtaeh Parsons, a Canadian teen, hanged herself in another case with allegations of sexual assault and cyberbullying.
Bob Mistele, superintendent of the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District, said in a statement quoted on SFGate, "Collaborating with our parents, students, staff and community, we will continue to work diligently to maintain a positive climate at our high schools based on respect, responsibility and open communication that discourages cyberbullying and inappropriate conduct."
Experts say that putting everything online is part of the teen culture, making bullying a constant in their lives.
A statewide survey shows how often youth report being bullied or harrassed based on their gender. Here's a snapshot of that data for ninth-grade girls. The data also is available for seventh- and 11th-graders, boys and for bullying and harassment based on race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
Gender as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Gender and Grade Level: 2008-2010
Data Source: As cited on kidsdata.org, California Department of Education, California Healthy Kids Survey (WestEd). http://www.wested.org/chks
Grade Level: 9th Grade
4 or More Times
Castro Valley Unified
New Haven Unified
San Leandro Unified
San Lorenzo Unified
Definition: Percentage of students in grades 7, 9, 11, and non-traditional students reporting the number of times in the past 12 months they have been bullied at school because of their gender, by gender. The grade levels included in school district-level data depend on the grades offered in each school district; for example, high school districts do not include 7th grade data. "Non-Traditional" students are those enrolled in Community Day Schools or Continuation Education. According to EdSource, nearly 10% of public school students in California are enrolled in these programs.
Adolescent Violence Prevention Knowledge Path, Maternal and Child Health Library at Georgetown University
Bullying, California Department of Education
Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports: Effective Schoolwide Interventions, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
School Connectedness, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
School Safety and Mentoring Guides, Hamilton Fish Institute, George Washington University
Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention