Shea Shawhan's story has gained national attention and now her mother is turning her struggles into a movement to help others.
Shawhan, 18, is a student with special needs at Plano West Senior High School. She was born with a brain injury that left her with the mental capacity of an 8-year-old. She has recently been tormented by threatening text messages. She can understand the mean and hurtful messages which have sparked a police investigation.
Plano police are now working with a web app company in their search for those cyber bullying Shea.
Police have not received any leads from students at Plano West but they hope the search warrants will return the actual names of the anonymous texters.
Shea's family wants those individuals found and justice to be served. However, they have found the greater message of helping others who've been in Shea's shoes.
"I want them to see Shea, I want them to see she's a different person and she's proud of who she is, even her disability, it doesn't define her," said Keri Riddell, Shea's mother.
Halfway through Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, Shea stands proud that she defeated the anonymous bullies who sent her the cruel texts.
Riddell has received thousands of messages from other victims of bullies who've offered support and advice. She is touched by the outpouring of support and plans to turn the "I'm With Shea" Facebook page into a non-profit organization.
Riddell wants to educate parents about websites like Pinger that attach fake numbers to real phone numbers to send text messages.
Riddell and Plano police know some of the senders in Shea's case used that website. Police have submitted search warrants hoping to get the IP address of the senders.
Police say the company has been cooperative and hope a student comes forward.
"Typically in most cases, kids will brag about this kind of stuff and they'll tell somebody and hopefully we're going to get somebody out there that feels bad about this and understands how mean this is and will come forward and give us some information that will lead to identifying who this person is," said Officer David Tilley with the Plano Police Department.
The text messages to Shea have stopped, although Riddell said Shea still had a partial seizure at school Wednesday. "Kids said to Shea in first period today, they were like, what's going on with you is not against the law," said Riddell.
Those students are wrong. Plano police don't know when they'll get the results of the search warrants. Whoever belongs to the IP addresses on the cell phones that sent the messages are likely looking at a misdemeanor harassment charge which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Riddell hopes her non-profit will dispel those rumors that nothing will happen to those who sent the harmful texts.
She's teaming up with the mom of a Rockwall teen who committed suicide last spring because of bullying to do a fun run. Riddell also hopes to start classes for teenage girls to boost confidence and let them know what bullying is, defined by the law.
KDFW FOX 4
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