TEXAS CITY, Texas – The parents of Texas City High School senior Brandy Vela says their daughter had been cyberbullied for months until she reached a breaking point and took her own life Nov. 29.
The Texas City Police said they are investigating, but the cyber bullies were said to have used an untraceable app, making it difficult for police to track.
Under Texas law, those who tormented the teen by sending her nasty text messages and setting up fake social media accounts using her picture and information could face criminal charges that may result in jail time.
The cyberbullying rises to the level of harassment by impersonating someone on online and also illegal and could lead to third-degree felony charges.
“Our administration and educators and policy makers at the legislative level are responding to the rising tide of bullying,” said Ecomet Burley with the Harris County Department of Education.
Burley said evolving technology is playing a significant role toward helping school districts report and in some instances prevent cyberbullying.
“Schools now have apps that they are giving and making available to students that can be downloaded on their iPhones and they can actually notify an administrator that 'hey, look, I'm actually being bullied right now,'” Burley said.