If you have your ear to the pulse of the youth of today, you know that one of the issues they deal with on a daily basis that those of use who were in school in the 70s, 80s, or even most of the 90s did not have to deal with is cyber bullying.
It is a fact of daily life that kids today worry about what other people are saying about them online. Sometimes children become so distraught they resort to suicide, like in the case of Megan Meier. She was only 13 when a group of people, most likely spearheaded by Lori Drew, drove her to the brink via communication with a fake MySpace they had created.
A more recent incident not only involved online bullying, but real life violence, and viral video. And, it happened right here in Florida, shamefully.
On the evening of March 30 six girls lured 16-year-old Victoria Lindsay to a Lakeland, FL house owned by the grandmother of one of the girls. They intended to confront her about “trash talking” about them online. This is where a case of cyber bullying resulted in real life violence. The six girls did not stop with simply verbally confronting her. One girl slammed Lindsay’s head into a bedroom wall and knocked her unconscious. When Lindsay woke up, another girl continued to hit her.
Lindsay ended up with a concussion, permanent hearing loss in her left ear, and blurred vision in her left eye. She also suffers from nightmares now. Local comments reveal Lindsay may also be 5-weeks pregnant. That is unsubstantiated, but if it is true it makes the case all the more disturbing.
The pack of out-of-control teenage girls had something sinister in mind when they lured Lindsay into the house. Not only had they planned on assaulting her, they also made plans to film the incident and post it on MySpace and YouTube.
They were counting on the video going viral to further humiliate Lindsay.
16-year-old Cara Murphy held the camera and you can hear her saying in the background, “Ooh, yeah, baby. Ooh, yeah!”
In the 3-minute portion of the video released by the sheriff’s office, you can see Lindsay trying to get up to leave the house. The girls stop her, block the door, and continue to hit her in the head.
Eight teens were charged in all (Zachary Ashley, April Cooper, Brittini Hardcastle, Kayla Hassell, Britney Mayes, Cara Murphy, Mercedes Nichols, and Stephen Schumaker). The Polk County Sherriff’s office charged three of the six girls who took turns beating Lindsay with felony battery. The three other girls were charged with both felony battery and felony kidnapping. The two boys who acted as lookouts during the attack were charged with felony false imprisonment.
One of the boys is 18 and was booked into the Polk County Jail. The others are being held at the juvenile assessment center, but prosecutors may charge all of them as adults.
Most of the parents of these out-of-control kids are coming out and making comments that deny that their children were involved. One even had the nerve to say that what their daughter told them is very different from what is on the police report and that “the truth will come out.”
Pretty bold statement considering there is video footage of the attack – a video that shows that Lindsay did not fight back, that one of the boys acting as lookout stuck his head in from outside and told the girls to be quiet because neighbors could hear the fight, and all of the girls can be either seen or heard.
Both Lindsay’s family and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd have called for legislation against “shock videos” or for social-networking sites to enact standards to prevent posting of such videos.
For the love of God, people, talk to your kids about bullying both online and in real life before something like this happens. I am astounded by the violence that teens are involved in these days. What happened in Polk County was like the village mob out for a witch hunt and it is deplorable.
And, let us all remember the age-old adage “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” So Lindsay apparently wrote some hurtful things online, but that is absolutely nothing compared to the physical assault the other teens committed. They should be duly ashamed. Their own parents should be horrifed to see what kind of little monsters they have raised.