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My daughter was killed at 19, and this barbaric trend of casually filming violence has to stop

Bystanders are filming the deaths or severe beatings of victims instead of intervening or calling the police. There are plenty of reports of our youth being victimized in fights and stabbings as their peers just stand by and casually film their plight.

In the age of social media, this is a brutal reality for far too many parents across the country. The police frequently identify deceased persons and locate their parents long after clips of the crime scene have already been uploaded and circulated online for everyone to see.

On Feb. 25, Birmingham mother Gail Maddox got the text every parent dreads the most. Her 20-year-old daughter Mahogany Jackson said she was being held hostage and implored her mom to call the police.

That was just the beginning of Gail’s agony. Not 24 hours later, police found Mahogany’s body. 

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But something monstrous compounded this tragedy: videos of Mahogany’s rape, torture and death appeared and circulated online. Her sadistic kidnappers and killers recorded their atrocities for the world to see.

Gail had already suffered the fate that no parent should ever have to endure, the death of her child. But with this barbarity published online, she suffers that indescribable pain over and over again with each share of the video.

People actually sent the horrifying footage to Mahogany’s family, as if they needed to see it. “That’s my child. Please stop. I can’t take it,’’ Gail pleaded.

I have lived the moment of unspeakable shock and grief when my own daughter was shot dead at just 19, killed by a stray bullet as she was sitting with friends in a car being filled up with gas. I know what Gail suffered in losing her daughter, and I regularly counsel and console other parents walking the same path of grief.

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I also work to strengthen community relationships with the police. And I understand that in one sense, this video of Mahogany’s torture being made public allowed the police to identify the defendants and make a quick arrest in justice. 

So I will speak for Gail, and for all parents of murdered children:

If you see video of a murder or torture online – posted by the perpetrator, an accomplice, or a bystander who thinks it’s sport – and you casually share this video, know that you are an accomplice to this crime. Know that you are giving the perpetrators the notoriety they crave. 

And if you see this content and do nothing about it – if you don’t share it with law enforcement or request it be removed from the platform – know that you are part of the problem.

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The dissemination and sale of the video online was another level of evil.  The defendants have the nerves to call themselves the “Yes Lord” gang.  Their filming of their atrocities is the spineless sadism of persons walking around impersonating human beings.

I challenge municipalities to prosecute individuals who transmit such videos. States such as Alabama have prohibitions on the dissemination of revenge porn, which is defined in Alabama as “[d]istributing a private image with intent to harass, threaten, coerce, or intimidate the person depicted.” That definitely sounds like this is applicable to Mahogany’s case.

And parents, please form your children to be leaders and to stop violence themselves when they can or call the police. Raise them to have the basic decency never to film someone else’s injury or death for sport.

Social media platforms should proactively regulate and stop the circulation of recorded violence. Community moderation is commonplace, and in these cases it is a matter of life or death.

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But so far all of these recommendations have been negative. There is also a positive vision for our country’s social media use. We can use these platforms to heal ourselves and each other, to spread messages of uplift and mutual respect.

On social media, we can rally around family survivors of violence and provide them with the emotional and material resources they need to cope with the grief and rage of sudden loss.

I personally have shared survivors’ tips on LinkedIn and Facebook. I’ve spoken at every opportunity about the suffering that mothers like me face, and the urgent need for a solution to the violence that’s tearing our neighborhoods apart.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE FOX NEWS OPINION

And now, I’m asking you to join me. Use your voice for good. Do your part to help your community heal, particularly during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

We all have a role to play – and together, we can stop this ongoing cycle of trauma and violence.

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