Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Gang Beats Student On Bus And Victim's Family Sues District

Last February, a group of seven thugs collectively beat (easy registration required) a 12-year-old male child on a school bus down in Duval County, Florida. The beating was videotaped by the bus's security camera and was circulated nationally.

The victim, Si'mone Small, was pummeled by the gang for about 30 seconds. The driver, following company and school district policies (The buses are privately contracted by the school district.) did not intervene to stop the beating. Si'mone suffered injuries to his head, face, eye, neck, back, shoulders and ribs.

The victim's mother has filed a lawsuit against the Duval County School Board as well as the company, First Student. The article says nothing about any lawsuits against the parents of the malefactors that perpetrated the crime.

As a practicing classroom teacher (with a 13-year-old daughter) in a California junior high school, I can certify that at most the bullies were suspended from school for a few days. Certainly, none were incarcerated or expelled. Traditionally, schools have not treated incidents like this as crimes. We here at the 'Wonks think that needs to change.

This incident reminds us of an earlier item that we profiled at the end of last month. A bully had an accomplice
videotape his assault in the classroom of a younger student.

The first duty of any educational institution is to ensure a safe learning environment. The lawsuit alleges that the miscreants that beat Si'mone had bullied him in the past. If this allegation is true, then it is quite possible that the Duval County School District will be found liable for both compensatory and punitive damages. (Although in our opinion, the Bus Company should be blameless, a jury will probably find them liable too.)

In this age of accountability, there should be no tolerance whatsoever for bullying in our schools. Pupils that insist on abusing their classmates should be removed from the mainstream classroom, and placed in a more structured classroom environment.

Bullying is a problem that can be addressed, but it we can't start solving it until we start treating it as the crime against our children that it is.

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