TODAY   |  October 16, 2013

Sheriff: We won’t tolerate cyberbullying

After the suicide of at 12-year-old girl who was bullied at school and then cyberbullied after changing schools, the Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd arrested one of the suspected bullies. He tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer that he won’t allow the teen to bully anyone else.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> to. but first, a case of bullying that turned deadly in florida and one sheriff taking a very strong stand. we'll talk to him in a moment. but first, here's nbc 's mark potter .

>> reporter: after investigating the suicide of 12-year-old rebecca sedwick for nearly a month, enough was enough.

>> when a 12-year-old baby jumps off of the top of a cement plant for any reason, that's a terrible event. that's a tragic event.

>> reporter: sedwick took her own life by leaping from a silo tower on the 9th. she was the victim of bullying by other girls both physically and on the internet.

>> there were statements you should drink bleach and die. nobody likes you.

>> reporter: but the breaking point for authorities came this week after one of the alleged bullies posted a facebook message with no remorse.

>> the absolute thought that she could have contributed to the death of that child, and then here's what she has, i don't give a --

>> reporter: then he decided to arrest two girls, the 12-year-old and 14-year-old that wrote the facebook message. both are charged with aggravated stalking of the minor. relative of the girls say they don't believe the accusations and because the girls are juvenile, nbc news will not identify them.

>> i miss you. i hope you're at peace.

>> reporter: trisha norman, the mother of rebecca sedwick told nbc news she hopes the two arrested girls are rehabilitated rehabilitated.

>> justice for me would be these girls change their lives and how they treat people.

>> reporter: this weekend would have been rebecca 's 13th birthday. for today, mark potter , nbc news, miami.

>>> grady judd is the sheriff of polk county . good morning, good to have you with us.

>> good morning. it's good to be here.

>> you're office was still very much in the investigation phase of this case and yet you move add heed ahead quickly to arrest these ladies, why?

>> on saturday morning the 14-year-old did something despicable on top of what she already did that was terrible and that was a post she put on facebook and that post said i know rebecca is dead and i don't care. and the words were much more graphic than that, or the letters were. so we looked at that and said she doesn't get this at all. so i talked to my detectives and supervisors on monday afternoon and i said do you have enough of the case put together so we can go ahead and arrest them? and we said absolutely.

>> but it was an outrage over the comment or a fear that this young lady might be out there taunting and bullying other students?

>> matt, it was both. we were going to arrest them anyway but we were trying to put the entire case together and we were having trouble getting information from kik and ask fm because they're offshore so it was taking time. when we saw that cavalier attitude. when we saw despite rebecca dying and jumping to her death and being bullied by this girl and another girl and she is back on facebook , she can be taunting and bullying another child. we're not going to accept that.

>> i want to make people aware of the fact, this young lady , rebecca did not take her own life after one incident. this went on for a long time. her mom took her out of school, moved her to another school and then the bullying continued online and sheriff, the question i have for you is, how didn't someone reach out to this young lady ? it seemed a lot of people knew this was going on.

>> matt, there was a lot of intervention. she was a very fragile child and those words stung and they hurt and they depressed her. so despite the interventions that were tried, still, with all mom did, the child had access to the internet. and to the text messaging systems and to the social media . and that's how the bullies got to her. mom actually physically separated them by moving schools and taking her out of schools. attend of the day, though, they were able to get to her because of the social media world and taunting and harassing and the intimidating went on and on and ultimately she text a friend and said i'm going to jump and she did.

>> i want to mention the 14-year-old that you have arrested, from what i understand, did not show much emotion at all at the time she was arrested. i think you used the word she was cold. and you also said sheriff, if you can find something to charge her parents with, you will do that. what charge would you consider?

>> well, do you know right now there are no criminal charges that we can find. but if we could find a contributing to the dependency or delinquency of a child we would bring that charge because i can tell you, the parents are in total denial . they don't think there's a problem here. and that is the problem. it's kind of like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. the parents are in denial and they even let her have her facebook access after she bullied this child and after she knew it. that's terrible. that's why we moved fast to lock their daughter up.

>> this is clearly something that struck an emotional cord with you sheriff and i think it will with a lot of parents. thank you for your time today, sheriff grady judd.