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A York County mom pleads for change after cyber harassment law failed daughter

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A community in shock and a mother grieving the loss of her only child... 14-year-old Olivia Perryman took her own life in January.

She was the product of a father who died from a heroin overdose, a mother who suffered substance abuse and alcoholism and the victim of cyber bullying.

Now, her mother is pleading for change after a law that was supposed to hold bullies accountable, failed.

The first time Olivia spoke to an in-home therapist, was her last.

"She had therapy for two hours in that living room. It was a great session, Olivia was wonderful. 40 minutes later she was hanging from a belt from my bedroom door," said Olivia's mother, Marcia.

Now, Marcia, clings to memories... the dogs and cats she rescued, the duck she fostered, and the horse she adopted.

"She loved animals, she loved especially old people... she just loved older people and she was always a voice for those who needed one," said Marcia.

Olivia endured more hardships than many people in her short life.

Her father died from a heroin overdose in December of 2014 and her mother battled substance abuse.

But that wasn't all.

Marcia says Olivia was the victim of catphishing, the term used when someone fabricates an identity through cyber space and tricks a person into a phony relationship.

"This person's face was always hidden, they never turned on the camera, you could only hear voices," said Marcia.

Her daughter was made to believe she was in a relationship with a boy last spring.

"She had been spending a lot of time video chatting this person and messaging this person and it was excessive," said Marcia.

Marcia says a police investigation discovered a young girl behind her online relationship.

The York Area Regional Police Department would not confirm an investigation took place because the case involved minors.

But that wasn't the last time Olivia had contact.

"She was going to friend's houses, school went back into session, kids take their phones to school and the contact with this person resumed," said Marcia.

Olivia ran away to try to meet up with the person who she thought she was dating so many times that Marcia was referred to York County Children and Youth Services.

"She couldn't believe this person wasn't a real person," said Marcia.

Marcia believes this is what drove her daughter to kill herself.

She blames herself because of her own addiction problems, but also the system that was supposed to protect her child from online bullies.

Governor Tom Wolf signed a law last year making cyber harassment of a child a punishable offense.

The law even states that a juvenile could be punished if found guilty.

But, Marcia says the person behind the computer was never held accountable.

One of the law's biggest supporters was Republican Representative Mike Regan.

"I don't think kids realize how damaging it can be to bully someone or say things that aren't true about someone. Or pretend to be someone else while they are online," said Rep. Regan, who represents York and Cumberland Counties.

Regan says the legislation passed over the summer was designed to intercede cases like Olivia's

"So sad, so tragic," said Regan.

We explained her story and asked, does he think the system failed?

"I think if there's a case, the DA should be made aware. I'm not going to pretend to know all the details but if it was a cyber bullying case, there should have been action," said Rep. Regan.

Marcia Perryman will never know if her daughter would have recovered with intensive counseling. She says she begged York County Children and Youth Services for help.

"I tearfully begged them. I said I'm sick I am in trouble. I had relapsed at this point, I can't help her I can't do it anymore I am begging and begging. Please help my child," said Marcia.

Marcia says the Dallastown School District was made aware of the bullying incident and provided Olivia counseling at the school.

After her death, the district denied FOX43 an on camera interview but released a statement saying, "Dallastown Area School District is deeply saddened by the death of Olivia R. Perryman. Olivia was an 8th grade student at Dallastown Area Middle School and was greatly loved by everyone that knew her. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Olivia during this difficult time. Superintendent Dr. Ronald Dyer and the District extend its deepest sympathy to family and friends in this time of loss."

We also reached out to York County Children and Youth Services as well as the counseling service that saw Olivia the day of her death but we never heard back.

For more information on suicide awareness and prevention in York County:

The Crisis Intervention Hotline is 717-632-4900.

Donations can be made in Olivia's memory to:

And to River Valley Ranch: 

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