Two Texas parents are taking a stand against cyberbullying.
The parents, Reymundo and Shellie Tingle-Esquivel, have filed a lawsuit against six parents whose children cyberbullied their 16-year-old daughter online.
According to the Esquivels, their daughter had been bullied by a group of friends at school for over a year. But in 2014, the students took their bullying to an entirely new level.
The alleged bullies, who attend Klein High School in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, created an Instagram account called “2014 Klein Hoes.” The page featured pictures of a number of girls from Klein High School either topless or in their underwear. Somehow, several pictures of the Esquivel’s daughter ended up on the page. The page had over 900 followers before the Esquivels went to court and ordered the site to be taken down.
The family’s lawsuit against the creators of the page alleges that the students “participated in making several malicious, untrue, suggestive, derogatory, inflammatory and sexually explicit statements regarding the teen."
“She was crying and upset,” the girl’s mother told KHOU. “I think for the most part she was in a state of shock about why this was occurring to her.”
The lawsuit sues the students for libel and their parents for negligence. The Esquivels hope that by holding the parents accountable for their children’s actions, a precedent will be set that causes parents to monitor their children’s online activity more closely.
“How many children is it going to take to commit suicide, to kill themselves, to hurt themselves ... because of bullies out there?” Tingle-Esquivel said. "And the parents don't want to take responsibility."
Attorney Tej Paranjpe is representing the parents in their lawsuit. He agrees that holding the parents accountable in this case could serve as a significant deterrent to cyberbullying in the future.
"If the parents can be successfully tied to this thing, that they are responsible for their children’s actions," Paranjpe said, "I am sure that a lot of kids are going to be put into check.”