Teens (still) Bullying

I don’t know if this is just the norm now.  Perhaps it was in my day and I was oblivious to it.  I’m talking about the way I hear about teens interacting with each other and behave so carelessly and violently.

My daughter and her friend Ally were eating lunch at school recently when a larger, older student approached their table and told the friend to get up so she could fight her.  Ally didn’t want to fight and had been told by her mother not to.  So she sat there until the bigger girl pulled her back and started punching her.  The girl started repeatedly using the heel of her hand to try to break Ally’s nose.  I heard about this when my daughter got home, and then I saw it for myself on a video posted on Facebook.  Ally’s mom called me at home that night and we spoke for an hour about the chain of events leading to this “fight”.  I used quotes around fight because it was really just an attack.

Ally had been suspended for one week along with her aggressor for two weeks because she told the girl in a Facebook message that she wouldn’t fight her.  Somehow, this was interpreted by the school administration as Ally initiating the fight.  Her mom had been in contact with the school prior to the attack about her concerns regarding lly.  She was being hassled online by this girl.  According to the mom, the school told her that they could not use social networking to punish a student.  I checked the school’s handbook and it states that students are liable for social networking comments that involve physical threats regardless of the time or place the comments were made.  I let the mom know that she needs to complain to the school board.  When I read the facebook page of the aggressor, she was proud that she was suspended for 2 weeks.  Another friend of hers commented that she was ready for round 2.  I checked the school handbook again, saw that making videos or photos at the school was also against their policies.  I made copies of what I saw on the website and emailed it to the school along with copy and paste paragraphs from the handbook citing which rules had been violated.  The school ensured that the safety concern I had for my daughter would be addressed.

The next day that my daughter had school, she went directly to the office as the guidance counselor I was in contact with recommended.  The girls were brought to the school office and spoken to.  They were advised that any further threats would result in punishment.  My daughter was afraid to sit out in the open in the lunchroom, so she used a lunch pod, which is used for lunch detentions.  Someone approached her during the lunch and asked if she was in trouble.  When she told this person that she wasn’t in trouble, he proceeded to tell everyone that she was sitting there because she was scared of a friend of the girl that attacked Ally.  My daughter was upset that people thought she was afraid of the girl.  It is almost impossible to describe to someone that avoiding a physical altercation is not cowardly.  I wouldn’t walk into a dark alley in the middle of the night because someone might be there.  Its just smart.

Most importantly, I need to know why these kids feel they need to physically harm someone to validate themselves?  Where are their parents and why don’t they know what their kids are doing online?  I realize its a pain in the ass to go through all possible social networks, but it is necessary.  I can’t imagine discovering that my child was making another one too sad or scared to go on about her daily life.  I would be hurt and angry and I would want to do something about it.  I would want her to make amends.  I can’t understand the mindset that someone would have in order to be cruel to someone else for any reason.

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