Family of bullied Morris County girl to sue school district over suicide

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ROSELAND -

The family of a 12-year-old Morris County girl who killed herself says it will sue her school district for not stepping in to address the problem of cyberbullying.

An attorney for the family of Mallory Grossman said Tuesday that he's filing a notice of intent to sue the Rockaway Township School District for negligence.

Mallory took her own life in June after what her family says was months of bullying by several of her classmates at Copeland Middle School.

"I think that she kind of represented what they couldn't be...and so therefore she kind of had a target on her back,” says Dianne Grossman, Mallory’s mother. “It was really about the humiliation and the intimidation.”

Attorney Bruce Nagel says Mallory's parents pleaded with school officials but "nothing was done."

The family says that their complaints were repeatedly dismissed and that Mallory received the cold shoulder and glares at school for months. They also say that the bullying followed her home, with vicious messages left on her phone. 

“For months she was told she’s a loser. She had no friends and finally she was even told, why don't you kill yourself,” Nagel says.

Mallory began to suffer from chronic headaches, started to slip academically, and was ultimately driven to suicide on June 14, according to her family.

“This small device (cellphone) is a lethal weapon in the hands of the wrong child,” Nagel says.

The Grossmans allege the district failed to protect Mallory emotionally and never filed harassment intimidation and bullying reports mandated by the state of New Jersey, which has some of the toughest bullying laws in the country. 

They say that they hope this lawsuit sets a precedence on cyber-bullying.

"We want to open Pandora’s Box. We want to push against the board as necessary. We want to end this forever,” Nagel says.

An attorney for the school district says that the district hasn't seen the notice yet but anticipates making a statement once it is reviewed.

The Grossmans and their attorney are considering legal action against the parents of the accused cyber-bullies. The family also announced a nonprofit to combat cyber-bullying called Mallory's Army.

New Jersey residents who are in distress are urged to call the New Jersey Suicide Prevention Hopeline at 1-855-654-6735.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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