Seven-year-old Kathleen Edward is a victim of one of the most extreme cyber-bullying cases imaginable.
Not only is Kathleen dealing with the recent death of her mother from Huntington’s Disease, a neurodegenerative genetic disorder, the young girl is battling the disease herself. For most of us, hearing this tragic news is enough to break our hearts and leave us feeling nothing but compassion and sympathy for Kathleen and her family.
But apparently Kathleen’s neighbor, Jennifer Petkov, isn’t like most people.
According to other neighbors, 33-year-old Petkov and her family — who have been feuding with the Edward’s for a number of years — built a coffin, threw it on the back of their truck, and drove by Kathleen’s home in Trenton, Michigan. The act likely referencing Kathleen’s grim prognosis and/or the passing of her mother.
Pretty unbelievable, right? Well just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any worse, it does.
Petkov, again, a 33-year-old woman, admitted to posting death-related images of Kathleen and her late mother on Facebook. The photoshopped pictures depicted Kathleen’s face above a set of crossbones and her deceased mother, Laura, in the arms of the grim reaper.
That’s an adult woman cyber-bullying a dying, grief-stricken, 7-year-old little girl.
TAKE ACTION: Help make cyber-bullying illegal!
Logically, one can’t help but ask, why?! What would possibly possess a grown woman to emotionally attack a sick child? And initially, Petkov wasn’t shy in answering … on camera.
“Personal satisfaction,” Petkov said. “Because it rubs their a—s raw. Burns their a—s.”
But after the video of Petkov’s eloquent statement above went viral — subsequently leading to alleged death threats and her husband being suspended from his job — she has since issued an apology.
“If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t do it,” Petkov said. “And to that little girl, I apologize if you’ve been hurt. There’s not much more I can say. And hopefully we can live our lives peacefully from now on.”
Wow, now that’s a touching, heartfelt apology if I ever heard one.
As we’ve seen in the past, cyber-bullying — defined as “the use of cell phones, instant messaging, e-mail, chat rooms or social networking sites … to harass, threaten or intimidate someone” — has profound, lasting effects on victims. It can lead to low self-esteem, depression and even suicide.
There is tremendous and immediate need for our society to start looking at cyber-bullying for what it is — a crime. And some in high power agree. Michigan Senator Glenn S. Anderson recently submitted legislation which would make cyber-bullying illegal in his state.
Sign the Care2 petition and tell the Michigan Senate to make cyber-bullying a crime.
And as for Kathleen, she has witnessed an outpouring of support from folks all around the world. She recently experienced what all 7-year-olds dream of — a $17,000 toy store shopping spree. There are also a number of upcoming events and fundraisers planned to show support for Kathleen and her family. And although none of these actions could adequately right the attacks on her, or cure her disease, they will hopefully show a very innocent 7-year-old that the world isn’t made of bullies.
photo credit: thanks to Alyssa L. Miller via flickr
please note: the image above is not of Kathleen Edward