In 2013, the fourteen-year-old Carolina Picchio took her own life owing to a video made by five boys (including her ex-boyfriend) while she was unconscious. That video was then posted on Whatsapp and Facebook without her consent.
Carolina could not bear the weight of the thousands of comments on the video, full of insults, slanderous words and jeers. She left a note with a powerful message on it: “Words hurt more than blows. What happened to me must not happen to anyone.”
Her message did not go unheard. The magistrate in charge of coordinating the inquiries immediately realized that the illicit spreading of that video had prompted Carolina to kill herself, so she considered those words very seriously.
She immediately hypothesized the charge of “death as a result of another crime”, ordered the seizure of the cell phones of the five boys and carried out a thorough and scrupulous investigation, which lasted nearly six years to bring out the truth.
Until that moment, it had never happened in Italy that online bullying was at the centre of an investigation and received such media attention. Carolina’s story led to the first trial in Europe against cyberbullying, during which all the five defendants were found guilty.
Four years after Carolina’s death, in May 2017, the law against cyberbullying was approved in Italy. It bears her name and provides that even minors can have the opportunity to report on violence suffered through Internet.
“Nobody will give me my daughter back, but this law is for her“, said Carolina’s father on hearing about the approval of the law. “Now we know that cyberbullying, in its cruelest form, cannot be reduced to a simple childish trick, because it can lead to commit an extreme gesture. To the boys, I want to say: be empathetic, make sure that certain things don’t happen and if someone becomes a bully or is victim of bullying, tell everything and talk about it!”.