Mallory Grossman

Screengrab via CBS/YouTube

Parents sue school district, say cyberbullying led 12-year-old daughter to suicide

They say school officials didn’t do enough to stop the abuse.


Kris Seavers


Posted on Aug 2, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 9:52 pm CDT

The family of a girl who committed suicide announced their plans Tuesday to sue a New Jersey school district for allegedly failing to stop their daughter from being cyberbullied.

Mallory Grossman, 12, was reportedly harassed by classmates for months with texts and posts telling her she was a loser and had no friends. The bullies asked her at one point “Why don’t you kill yourself?” according to a lawyer for Mallory’s family.

She took her own life June 14.

“Her life tragically ended when her own classmates used this cellphone to drive her into this tragedy,” said Bruce Nagel, the family’s lawyer, holding up an iPhone at a press conference.

Her mother, Dianne, said the harassment began last October. Mallory’s grades “plummeted,” and she had chronic headaches and stomachaches.

“She talked about how horrible it was to be at school,” Dianne said. “It would be dirty looks, harassment, and name-calling. The cold shoulder, the exclusion, I think played an important role.”

On Today, Dianne described her daughter as an “all-American girl.” Mallory was a gymnast and cheerleader.

“To the girls that did this to her, she was what they could never be,” she said on the show.

Dianne said she and her husband showed Rockaway Township School District officials the “horrible” social media posts and texts sent to her daughter from three or four of her classmates.

“We reached out to the teachers and said I want to talk about academics as well as emotional well-being at school,” Dianne said.

Dianne said they “followed the school’s protocol” and stayed in contact with school officials, from the guidance counselor to the principal. The officials never saw an investigation through.

Middle school suicides have spiked in recent years, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for that age group. One recent study surveying 5,600 children nationwide between the ages of 12 to 17 found that 34 percent said they had experienced cyberbullying.

The family of Brandy Vela, an 18-year-old Texas student, believes cyberbullying pushed the high schooler to commit suicide in November. Vela’s schoolmates bullied her for her weight and created fake dating profiles of her, advertising free sex, the family said.

In addition to suing the school district, the Grossman family is considering taking legal action against the parents of the students who allegedly bullied her, reported.

New Jersey has some of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the country, but Stuart Green, founder and director of the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention, said it’s not enough. Green told that school districts must investigate and document reports of harassment against students.

“No anti-bullying advocates feel that we are near the end of addressing this problem,” Green said. “We are nowhere near addressing it adequately.”

For more information about suicide prevention or to speak with someone confidentially, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) or Samaritans (U.K.).

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*First Published: Aug 2, 2017, 4:00 pm CDT