In a previous column of mine, I asked a question, "Why can't the Petkov's stay out of the news?" Due to a recent complaint filed with the Trenton police by Rebecca Rose, grandmother of Kathleen Edward, the Petkov's are not only back making headlines, but the overwhelming response in by Trenton Patch editor Nate Stemen has everyone in a blood in the water frenzy. While they clearly haven't stayed out of the news, recent developments raise more questions.
A question that has been raised due to the Petkov's presence on Facebook over the last couple of months involves cyberbullying. The usual suggestions involve limiting who can view your profile and knowing who is behind a friend request, but those aren't good enough. Not all of Facebook is private and there are groups that anyone can join. The worst aspect about cyberbullying is the bullying is typically from someone the user knows.
For kids, this is especially hard because they may have to confront their bully in person at their school. A person may eventually feel that they can never escape these psychological attacks and may begin to feel helpless. While some of the younger crowds might think of these tactics as "trolling", slang for being inflammatory to get a rise out of someone. There is a line that separates the two and kids shouldn't feel that they aren't safe from bullying, while away from school.
Growing up with the internet and a variety of bullies, both online bullying and being harassed in school can be emotionally traumatic. If the school fails to protect the child, and the parents either haven't been involved or proved ineffective, what else can a person do? Human beings of all ages have a breaking point. In the recent article involving the complaint filed by Rebecca Rose, it would appear that the Petkov's are pushing her to the limit.
This raises another question. What if the cyberbullying is so severe and disturbing that the story generates hundreds of thousands of page views and thousands of Facebook page "likes" from people around the world in less than a couple of days? While a great deal of people, especially as of late, are demonizing Jennifer Petkov for her behavior, is there a point we can safely assume that this is no longer about attention seeking?
Having read disturbing comments on Facebook apparently posted by the Petkov's using "tick tock tick tock" frequently to a countdown to the day a young girl dies, it's entirely understandable that people are outraged to the point that their comments were moderated on the Rebecca Rose article. Some people cried out in disbelief that this behavior still persists, but others were screaming for justice.
According to the , the best we can do is educate those we know in better protecting themselves from being a victim. Unless, of course, it's your neighbor that allegedly verbally assaults anyone and everyone without remorse. What can the people on the 200 block of Detroit street do with these neighbors from hell? A petition to remove them from the community would be unlikely, if even possible, as a similar petition would be waiting for them in a new neighborhood.
After almost one year since the initial story broke, the Petkov's seem to only become worse. Having received several emails to stop writing about the Petkov's, there might be some truth in those suggestions. Maybe this isn't about people trying to raise a media circus just when you think they've gone.
Eventually, a time might arrive when the mania subsides and someone qualified looks back to help us understand what made these people tick.