The teen years are always difficult, but the advent of electronic communication has ramped up the potential for accidental or deliberate harm.

A 13-year-old girl faces criminal charges after she allegedly faked her own death via a text, causing her 11-year-old boyfriend to kill himself.

Marquette County, Mich., Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese said the unnamed girl posed as someone else and faked her own suicide via a text conversation.

Within two hours of receiving the text, Tysen Benze had hanged himself.

The girl has been charged with malicious use of telecommunication service, punishable by up to six months in juvenile detention and using a computer to commit a crime, which can carry up to a year in jail. Both are misdemeanors.

The news carries examples of other similar cases every day — cyberbullying is suspected in the death of a Pennsylvania teen, a grand jury indicted two in connection with a Texas suicide and cyberbullying may have played a role in a double suicide in Kansas.

The best solution to bullying of any kind, of course, is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Kids should be taught to be respectful and kind to everyone and apologize if they have bullied someone.

Parents should help their children develop the self-confidence to stand up to bullies, and talk to an adult with the power to stop the bullying.

When online, always think about what you post, aware that someone might forward anything you send.

Kids should guard their passwords, but parents should insist on having their children's log-in information.

Parents should also insist on staying in the loop, not to interfere but to intervene when there's a real danger.

And, kids who see any type of bullying going on should let an adult know, and support the person being bullied.

This editorial appeared in the April 12 edition of the McCook (Nebraska) Daily Gazette.

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