AMELIA, Ohio (FOX19) - Amelia police are investigating after the father of a 12-year-old girl with special needs reported that teenagers cyberbullied his daughter by convincing her to harm and humiliate herself.
Allen Relthford said what started as a seemingly innocent chat on social media transformed into cyberbullying.
Relthford’s daughter Natalie, 12, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and several mental disabilities. He said his daughter does not socialize and communicate like other children her age.
“Educationally and academically, she’s at a second, third grade level,” said Relthford.
He lets her use smartphone apps sometimes because he said he likes to give her a chance to make friends since she is currently home-schooled.
“I tried to put up safeguards to protect her from it, but it wasn’t enough,” said Relthford.
He said that Natalie was talking with teenagers from Fairfield online when the teens started encouraging Natalie to get a pair of scissors and cut her hair. After she completed the task, Relthford said that the teens convinced Natalie to live stream her haircut, so they could laugh at her.
“When she said she didn’t want to anymore, they posted a message saying that basically if she didn’t, they would kill themselves,” said Relthford.
Relthford said it did not stop there. He believes the girls, knowing Natalie has handicaps, pressured Natalie to stomp on a glass bottle as part of an “online challenge.”
Natalie, Relthford said, fell for the trick and had to get nine stitches in her foot.
Relthford then shared the story on social media and reported it to police.
“Parents need to realize the dangers of social media and bullying in general,” said Relthford.
Amelia Police said they are taking the accusations seriously and are investigating, adding that criminal charges are possible.
Ultimately, police said the prosecutor’s office will decide which charges, if any, are appropriate.
Fairfield Police said although the accused teens are from Fairfield, Amelia investigators are handling the case.
In 2018, Relthford reported that his daughter had been discriminated against because of her special needs when she was not allowed to be a regular member of the cheer squad.