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Stepmother of bullying suspect charged with child abuse

BARTOW, Fla., Oct. 20 (UPI) -- A Florida woman whose stepdaughter has been charged with bullying a 12-year-old girl into suicide has been charged with child abuse and neglect.

The charges against the woman, a 30-year-old Lakeland resident, followed the discovery of Facebook pages that show her allegedly hitting children, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported. The newspaper said it was not naming the woman because that would also identify her stepdaughter, a juvenile.

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The Polk County Sheriff's Office said it got tips about the Facebook pages after the stepdaughter was arrested. A juvenile who witnessed the alleged July assault posted the video.

Sheriff Grady Judd said Friday the pages show the woman "cannot control the behavior of children she has access to without using violence, but she is obviously not monitoring the social media sites of children she has access to either."

The alleged assaults occurred in July. Deputies said the woman said she was trying to separate children who were fighting but went too far.

The stepdaughter, 12, and a 14-year-old girl have been charged with online bullying of Rebecca Ann Sedwick, a 12-year-old who killed herself at an abandoned cement plant near her home on Sept. 10.

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Rebecca's parents said bullies continued to pursue her online after she changed schools.

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