Mom: Cyber bullying killed my daughter

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WYOMING, Mich. -- Words hurt.

It's the message Rebecca Abbott is hoping resonates with other parents and teens after her daughter committed suicide in early July. Abbott said she believes cyber bullying lead to her daughter's death.

Zoe Johnson was 13 years old when she died July 6. She was a member of the cheer team and had just finished the seventh grade at Kenowa Hills Middle School.

Abbott said her daughter was tough, but believed she'd finally reached her breaking point.

“These kids, I don’t think they realize how mean they’re being to each other," Abbott said.

“I don’t know, I think it was just a cry for help, but I don’t think she realized the finality of what she was doing."

Zoe had dealt with bullying for years and suffered minor depression, according to Abbott. But toward the end of the school year the taunting became worse, her mother told FOX 17.

One post Abbott provided to FOX 17 from Facebook, dated the day before Zoe's death, was a picture reading "tag a b***h you don't like" with Zoe's name attached by others.

Abbott said people continued to post to Zoe's Facebook after her death, with one person even writing "good ur gone."

Some recent studies suggest as many as one in every four teens has been bullied at some point online, and in many of those cases it's likely happened more than once. According to the American Association of Suicidology, rates for suicide among 10 to 14 year-old teens has grown 50% in the past three decades

“Kids don’t know how to confront it. They don’t know who to turn to," said Nicole Dombrowski, Zoe's longtime competitive cheer coach.

Working with young students daily, Dombrowski said she knows many of them choose to not report the bullying.

“We have to make sure they realize they can talk to us. They don’t," she said. "They keep everything inside, they don’t want to tell their parents what’s happening on social media.”

Police told FOX 17 the evidence investigators were able to review from text messages and social media posts did not indicate bullying or any criminal wrongdoing.

Abbott said she's hopeful her tragedy will teach other parents and teens to watch their kids more closely.

"They have to be careful with what they say to each other. I want parents to be more aware, I should’ve been more on Zoe’s Facebook and we should be more aware of what our kids are doing and what they’re saying...”

Michigan is one of 34 states with laws criminalizing cyber bullying.

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74 comments

  • Shawn galinis

    Please help stop bulling share this story

    448 people from all around the world sang this song together to remember Zoe and support anti bullying RIP Zoe 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 bullying took Zoe’s life at the young age of 13 help save a life share this link
    If you would like to help Zoe’s family click on her go fund me part of the proceeds will go towards bully awareness http://www.gofundme.com/z25we6sc

    Listen to my cover of “Amazing Grace” via Smule http://www.smule.com/p/167056784_144267999

  • tnts

    So these “lovely” young girls are going to get away with bullying Zoe and now they will be able to move on to the next poor girl and do it again. The person who said “good you’re gone” should be real proud of herself. Smh….Have the parents of these girls been made aware of what their daughters/sons were up to?? If my kids were doing something like that, I would want to know.

  • Shelly Bean

    I’m so sorry for this young lady’s family, friends and for Zoey herself. No one deserves this. People can be so cruel. These kids parents need to know especially the one that wrote that horrible statement on her facebook page. These evil human beings or Trash as I would call them need a whole lot of Karma kicked their way. If this was my child I’m afraid I’d go to that school and clean house. I”m hoping the TRASH will eventually take themselves out.

  • Markie

    That cheer coach told my little sister that she could not be on the cheer team because she was not fit enough and she’s going to sit there and talk about bullying like she is a saint.

    • Carolyn

      Dig yourself deeper little kid!!! MARKIE… Where are your parents??? Do they know what you just posted about the cheer coach and the legalities of this statement???

      Posted July 21, 2015 by MARKIE
      That cheer coach told my little sister that she could not be on the cheer team because she was not fit enough and she’s going to sit there and talk about bullying like she is a saint.

  • jessica

    I’m so sorry for this poor families loss. I think we need to not only talk to our kids about cyber bullying, but that they’re self worth and beauty is not based on how many “likes” they get on a social media post. I think this is also becoming a huge problem with the younger generation. Praying for the family in their time of need.

  • Bethnanator

    Pictures Zoe posted on Instagram shows a girl smoking pot and not appropriately dressed for a girl of 13 . It must of went downhill fast for her from Cheer to that….
    Bullying is bad but there were other issues maybe mom did not know. It’s too bad she was crying for help, so sad she didn’t get the help she needed. It would be very hard to be a girl of 13 being picked on with the Internet. The girls that did bully her have to live with that,….years later when they grow up they will always know in the back of their mind what they did to drive that girl to do such a terrible thing and end her life…it’s hard to tell someone going through it that life gets better..Just sad..

    • Susan

      That’s not good enough. We need to change the laws so that cyberbullies can be charged with manslaughter in these cases. Let their lives be ruined like they did to that girl. Maybe then teens would get the message that bullying is serious.

    • Jim

      This sure sounds like one of the bullying kids wrote this. Let’s just hope it wasn’t one of their parents. So much hate in this post.

  • Kathy

    What people need to realize is they need to be impeccable with their word. Your word can build a person up or it can distroy a person. Our words are so powerful and should be used wisely. I am so sorry for the parents left behind. I am sure you are in great pain. Let’s not spew poisen out of our mouths, but spread kindness and love. You can be sure that the kids who bullied have bigger problems ahead of themselves, because all that negative energy will come back on them;
    it’s just a matter of Divine timing.

  • Karen

    My heart is heavy for Zoe and her family. My daughter was cyberbullied as well. I went as far as to make myself an acct with a different name to see what was being said. She attemped suicide but i was stalking her Instagram account and saw an odd post. Ran up to the bathroom to see her on the floor. She had taken several over the counter painkillers. Not enough to kill but enough to send a message. She is now taking high school classes online at home. It does not fix the cyber issues 100% but has helped because i have a bit more control.

    • maxwellgover

      Wow, nothing like teaching your daughter to stand up for herself. Effectively letting cyber bullying dictate your lives. Get a grip. DELETE THE ACCOUNT and stop playing the victim.

      • Samantha

        How dare you! She did what she felt was best for her child. If you don’t agree don’t do the same with your child, if you have any which by the sound of your lack of apathy you do not. #ignoranceIsdangerous

  • Judi

    If this is proven to cause the girl to commit suicide, I would have printed out all the awful messages and then talk to a lawyer. It would send a message to those brats and their parents that no one has to put up with this. I am so sorry for your loss. I too lost a son to suicide but not to cyberbullying. It hurts for a very long time, one you never forget.

  • YOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    “She didn’t know how to confront it?” How about delete your account? Last time I checked you need to be 14 to use Facebook anyway.

    • Fan

      I agree. Cyber bulling shouldn’t be the biggest issue in our children’s generation right now. You can easily avoid it. I’m not saying her death is sad, it is. It’s just a lot of people get more upset over this than actual issues that impact not just her life, but even the children were teasing her.

  • Kevin Rahe

    My children will not have an online “self” to maintain until they’re at least 16. There is no way kids 13 years old are equipped to handle the pressures (and temptations) that an online, identifiable and open presence exposes them to.

  • Jana Fedon

    I jut stunned the authorities say they find no grounds for bullying on her social media when mom says they had “tag a b@;$h” with a photo of her at tacked. If that’s not bullying I guess I don’t know what is?

  • Carolyn

    So sorry for Zoe’s family. This is awful. Who ever posted the mean disgusting “TAG A B—- ” will never forget this day. Everyone knows who did this by the picture in the post. And then to post “Good ur gone !!!!” This nasty kid will have have to forever live with what was done because of posting this. Thank god Zoe’s mother made her deceased daughters face book public for everyone to read. The proof of why she commented suicide is posted on her facebook page!!!!!

  • Carolyn

    Dig yourself deeper little kid!!! MARKIE… Where are your parents??? Do they know what you just posted about the cheer coach and the legalities of this statement???

    Posted July 21, 2015 by MARKIE
    That cheer coach told my little sister that she could not be on the cheer team because she was not fit enough and she’s going to sit there and talk about bullying like she is a saint.

  • TheFoundingFathers

    LMFAO if your that pathetic of a human to take your own life because some small minded fools say something about you on the Internet, then so be it!
    I look at the lack of parenting on this one from both sides.
    Maybe I’m just old fashioned but none of these little CHILDREN should be wasting their lives away on the worthless Internet. If you are a parent and actually give 2 shits about your kids delete that shit from your computer’s and take their stupid ass smartphones away!!!! They don’t need that crap to begin with!!!!!

    • Sue

      Wow, heartless!! You need to realize that many teens don’t have the capacity and knowledge to know how to deal with bullying. They think in the here and now, and in the here and one they are hurting badly! Yes, of course the bullies aren’t worth killing yourself, but teens need help to see past that and know how to respond, or in some cases, how not to respond and give the bully the satisfaction of knowing they hurt you. RIP dear Zoe

    • Amanda McCallum

      You don’t know the situation so maybe you give her the benefit of the doubt here in her parenting. I know first hand how she got to be the way she was. She was not a bad kid, she just had to deal with other bad situations in her life that no 13 year old should have to deal with. Her mother and grandparents did everything in their power to keep zoe safe. There is a lot more to the story. I was there the day zoe was born and was around her most of her life.

    • WISE OLD MAN

      I would think the parents of all these children are well aware of what they have done by now. Hopefully this horendous tragady will make others aware of the effects of cyber bullying.

  • WebSafety, Inc. (@WebSafetyInc)

    Our heartfelt sympathies to this family. Cyberbullying has claimed too many lives. In an attempt to help stop this we offer a free app for parents to monitor social media and web browsing on their child’s mobile device. WebSafety’s vision is to provide an open window through which concerned parents can monitor questionable and potentially harmful content or a direct predatory exchange occurring on their child’s mobile phone. For more info, please visit: http://www.websafety.com

  • Shahrzad eslamian

    Does this darkness have a name? This cruelty? This hatred? How did it find us? Did it steal into our lives or did we seek it out and embrace it? What happened to us? That we now send our children into the world like we send young men to war, hoping for their safe return, but knowing that some will be lost along the way. When did we lose our way? Consumed by the shadows, swallowed all by the darkness. Does this darkness have a name? Is it your name?

  • Jim

    The girl that posted GOOD UR GONE after the 13-year-old girl committed suicide has really incriminated herself. Good. A lot of things will come out as time goes on but this post says it all. Proud of this little girls mom for what she is doing! Prayers to this little 7th graders family. Reading this breaks my heart as I have children.

  • Sue

    I’m so sorry for the family left behind. Why haven’t the police found any evidence? The hurt these bullied teens feel often outweighs their ability to realize these nasty kids aren’t worth taking your life over. Please get adult help if you are being bullied!!

    • C. Meyers

      Looks like the evidence is posted on her Face Book page from the kids and the photo was used for this report. I would think the girls counselor has documented information also. Thank god that this girls mother tried to help her daughter by taking her to counseling for being bullied on and off Facebook. At least she can be comforted knowing that she did try and got professional help.

  • Alyssa Roberts

    She was one of my childhood friends… I can’t believe she’s gone. I wish this was one big nightmare and we could all just wake up from it. She will always be in our hearts. It nearly killed me when I got the news. She was beautiful and she shouldn’t of been treated the way she was by those people. Words really do hurt. Bullying is wrong and it needs to stop. Rest in paradise Zoe. Miss you so much.

  • Do the right thing

    My thoughts and prayers to Zoe’s family and friends. While I think it is important to have rules there is a huge component missing. More emaphasis needs to be placed on teaching students how to respond when they see and hear this kind of stuff going on. Teens are very aware of what is being said and who is saying it. Not saying anything is what continues the problem. Proper education on different ways to deal with bullying (of all kinds) is where the focus should be. Let’s give those kids the power to deal with what is happening around them. Rules are the adult way of “making things right” but how effective has it been?

    • kelly

      i’ve been bullied!!! can i start collecting money because my feelings are hurt????i cannot beleive what some people will do!!! begging for money to bury your dead!! how embarrassing for you. i thought these things could be put on a credit card now a days.

  • none

    So she killed her self cause she was bullied for years? And ppl are sad and blaming others? People get bullied all the time put on your big ppl pants get get over it. Suicide is selfish and get no sympathy.

  • kelly

    oh my goodness, another parent speaking out about “CYBER BULLYING!!” its so horrible! it is so hard to read bad things about yourself. oh , no one likes me. i only have 234,890,000 friends on the internet. some one unfriended me. i must not be very pretty or popular!! i had to take MY BULLYING in freakin PERSON!!!! every damn day on the school bus ride of 45 minutes to school and then a replay on the 45 minute drive home! i was bullied right in front of my face. in front of EVERYONE I KNEW. IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE SCHOOL at times. you parents are so soft on your kids these days. mine did everything yours probably did but mine didnt take it so seriously. NO ONE had a good childhood. its all hell! if you are so worried,m dont give them a computer. hasnt any parent under the age of 50 taught their kids that not everyone in the world is going to like them? u cant please all of the people all of the time. you cant please some of the people all the time. just dont go there or get a tougher outer skin. dont raise your kids to be whiners!!!!

  • JustaMom

    You need to understand that these kids are trapped in their world. It is just school, cheerleading and home. If you are bullied at your job you quit. If you are bullied at school, by kids, teachers, or the cheerleading coach, and you want to participate you suffer. Otherwise, you quit and add to the drop out rate and face further humiliation. Unless you can afford to move, or have your parents pay for private school you are stuck. Everyone is responsible for this poor young beautiful girl and her depression, and allowing the torment in a world where she is trapped. And Markie, if you say a true statement, no one can sue you. Whoever did this should be well known in this community. It is now up to all of you to make something positive happen out of this tragedy.

  • yup

    I am so taken back at to treatment that is allowed online the kids the taunted her should be in jail and parents of those kids should be paying all costs. My thoughts and prayers are with your family. May no other family feel a loss by the horrid words of bullies.

  • Anil Chatterjee

    This is so sad. I am very sorry to learn of the Johnson families loss. This article touches on a big part of the problem – that kids do not know how, or even want to tell their parents about being bullied. That’s why it is imperative that parents only let their kids on social media where they can look out for them using monitoring tools like SafeKidsPro. I use this and it monitors my kids on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – of course, it doesn’t get rid of bullying or other bad behavior but it does give me the chance to step in should my child be involved or affected by it. It is our responsibility to look out for our kids. If you are not using a monitoring service already then you should be – check out http://www.safekidspro.com

  • DahhSee

    STOP BULLYING Zoe’s Mom!!!!! Some comments say sympathetic remarks towards Zoe and how wrong it was for her to be bullied online but then the post started out by making insensitive acquisitions about HER MOM!!! Hello….that’s what bullying is….saying hurtful things about someone that could put their mind in a dark painful place. How could people write this stuff KNOWING her mom and family will read it!!!???! So the writers of these kind our posts are JUST POSITIVE Mom didn’t recognize immediately red flags and got help and or antidepressants….or that mom didn’t properly address inappropriate pictures or actions being done in the Instagram pictures once discovering them……and so on and so on.
    A mom who drives from miles away twice a day AND all sporting practices to take her child to a better school district than where they live is a GOOD mom …a mom who was very watchful of her child is a GOOD mom.. but apparently was expected to be the first parent in history to uncover a teenagers hidden thoughts or know the teenagers every move.
    Newsflash….sometimes depression wins no matter how hard others are trying to help a loved one battle it and overcome.
    And then having to reap the consequences of bad parents that ALLOW thier kids to bully others with either no discipline or educating or just a little slap on the hand. If your kid is a bully or making orhers feel so low that they can’t enjoy their life…THEN TAKE AWAY ALL AND ANY DEVISE OR ACCESS THEY HAVE TO THE INTERNET……& GET THEM HELP TO GET TO THE ROOT OF THE REASON WHY THEY ARE FILLED WITH SUCH HATE AND SADISTIC FEELINGS!!!! That might actually take time,love and devotion which lazy unconcerned parents aren’t willing to do. Its the GOOD moms and her children that suffer from these moms raising monsters our should i say letting their kids raise themselves cuz they’re not devoted enough to put that kind of effort into being a mother. The moms that DO unselfishly devote their time and lives to giving her children the best opportunities in life and love are the moms who’s kids are messed with by jealous kids wishing THEY had good home lives with a parent willing to invest so deeply to

  • Jessica

    this is so sad i can’t imagine people being so mean and making them kill themselves the girl who did this should be charged but oh no they didn’t so now she has the right to go on to the next poor girl or guy and bully them until they kill themselves and she is probably going to keep doing it cause she doesn’t care if they kill themselves or not :( it honestly makes me want to go cry.

  • Ali

    Zoe and I were friend in 5th grade and all of you had anything to do with this should be ashamed of your selves you were the reason for a young girl to commit suicide,.

  • Angela Brown

    This is the main reason why I am starting an organization called “Bullies” changing the name from Fear to Friends. We need to get the word out there and reach EVERY young person that we can. Join us to help save a life. 4,400 kids take their life per year. Stand with us. This is the 3rd biggest deaths in kids 10 to 14 years old. If you are moved and want to help please email me at Jaove13@gmail.com for more information on what this movement is all about. RIP Zoe. We will take your death as another angel gone too soon and will help others in that same situations.

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