A thirteen year-old Washington girl jumped off a bridge overpass and killed herself days after her father cut off her hair and posted a video of it to You-Tube.
Her father uploaded the video to You-Tube and took it down after Izabel’s suicide. A friend of Izabel’s reposted a copy from his phone, which has since gone viral.
The 15-second video shows Izabel in what appears to be a garage with her hair cut off and in a pile on the floor.
A male voice chastises the girl for the camera, while she answers quietly:
The consequences of getting messed up, man, you lost all that beautiful hair. Was it worth it?
How many times did I warn you?
It is not known what other issues played a role in the girl’s suicide. Izabel had reportedly been suffering from depression and anxiety, in part due to bullying issues at school. In a post on her Google Plus page last year, she uploaded a video and wrote:
I feel hated most of the time im in school i feel looked down on and i get judged alot….
Friends of Izabel have set up a website and Facebook page called “Justice For Laxamana” which cites her father’s public shaming as the reason for Izabel’s suicide and seeks to “honor Izabel and raise awareness of the impact of the practice of public shaming.”
The web site says:
Much visibility is given to children being bullied at school. Hopefully, this young woman’s death will end up focusing some attention on bullying that so very many children receive — bullying at home. When the family inevitably speaks … painting this as some mental health issue belonging to this young woman, do not forget: children’s earliest and most enduring (and sometimes fatal) beliefs about themselves are formed at the hands of their caregivers.
Some people are calling for legal charges against Izabel’s father. One commenter on the Justice for Izabel Facebook says:
This type of public humiliation is another form of abuse, pure and simple. Obviously, this father was so disconnected from his daughter and the issues of bullying she was experiencing at the hands of her peers. It appears he has control issues, which only impeded a healthy relationship with Izabel, blinding him to the fact that his daughter was in emotional pain from the bullying she lived through daily. He should have been one of the main sources for her to feel comfortable to turn to for help; instead he apparently responded to her in a way that pushed her over the edge… He has to live with this for the rest of his life, but I still feel he must be charged with abuse in this matter, especially if there are other children in the home.
Jack Cameron, a writer at Tacoma Stories, also called for an end to public shaming when reporting the middle school student’s death:
There are those who believe that public shaming is an acceptable form of parenting. As this incident clearly shows, it’s not. It’s a form of abuse and it has consequences.
Another commenter noted on the Justice for Izabel Facebook page:
On the video the dad asked her “was it worth it?”. I’d like to ask him that same question.
Parenting teenagers and preteens can be challenging at best. This is a time when children need a strong, supportive, positive relationship with parents and caregivers more than ever. See Attachment Parenting 101: How does AP apply to teens and pre-teens? for strategies to help your teens make good choices and feel safe coming to you when they are facing tough issues.
For help protecting your child from bullying, see: Twelve ways to protect your child from bullying.
Remember that we as parents should never be our children’s bullies.
For teens: If you or someone you know needs help, please tell a parent, teacher, doctor, or other trusted adult, and find more resources here.
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