While walking home from Irving Middle School in Lincoln, Nebraska last year, 14-year-old Frida Aguilera was ambushed and attacked by a classmate while other kids circled around and videotaped the incident.
“My face was full of blood and at that point I guess they just thought that was enough,” said Aguilera.
Frida’s attacker got a week suspension and was prosecuted in juvenile court. But the passive bystanders taping the entire incident were not punished.
Unfortunately, Frida’s story isn’t the only one. In December, 9th grader Jared Williamson was leaving school when he was involved in a brutal and unprovoked attack that left him with a concussion and cervical sprain. Students watched and filmed the incident, egging the attacker on. Within minutes the fight was posted to Facebook. After Jared’s attack, he was diagnosed with PTSD and now has to be home schooled because of it.
After Frida’s attack, Frida’s mother contracted Thomas Inkelaar of Inkelaar Law Firm. Inkelaar says Nebraska has no cyberbullying or bullying laws on the books. Nebraska only has an anti-bullying law stating that schools must put policies and procedures in place. “To actually say hey it’s illegal for someone to bully someone, there is actually not a public policy on the record,” he said.
Inkelaar Law is petitioning for stronger state legislation against bullying what is being called ‘Frida’s Law’. If passed, this law would include criminalizing bullying behavior as acts of violence and hold kids videotaping the incidents accountable. “The goal is to stop this, put it in place where we can have safety in our schools,” said Inkelaar. “At minimum, the goal for Frida’s Law is that the aggressor’s sentence includes counseling and community service.”
But what is happening in our schools now goes beyond bullying. It is assault, plain and simple!
Students who engage in violent assaults are more often suspended for a short time when they should be expelled from a school or district, as well as face criminal penalties, including jail time. School districts should also face civil law penalties, in the form of hefty monetary fines, if it is proven that they failed to prevent or punish certain types of behavior by students within their district.
When a teacher is threatened with violence or suffers the same type of attack from a student, the student responsible for the attack is expelled and quickly arrested and charged with assault. Should not students be allowed the same protection under the law?
Research has shown that violent assaults on students can end up causing lasting damage to its victims. I too was bullied as a kid, and I found the experience to be pretty ugly. I’m in my 60s now; and although it’s been years since I experienced getting beat up by three bullies after school for two weeks, that experience has never left me.
I don’t think about it much these days, but I know that that experience has affected me as an adult—and not for the better. Because no one was willing to protect me I felt I had no choice but to quit school in my junior year. As an adult I suffered from depression, low self-esteem and experienced many failed relationships. Even after I surrendered my life to Jesus, it was still years before I was able to see my own worth as a person.
I know that I am not alone in this. Our world is filled with people who continue to suffer from emotional problems because they were victims of physical attacks in school.
How did we come to this point? What causes our children to become such uncontrollable beasts who brutally assault each other without conscience?
The apostle Paul warns us that whatever a person sows, they will also reap the same. (Galatians 6:7-8)
Look at what we have sown: We’ve exchanged the security of family values with immoral ideas and attitudes. Sanctity of life is no longer fought for, and more often is legislated against. We’ve replaced the Bible and prayer in our public schools with metal detectors and police security….Welcome to the harvest!
Addressing these problems with positive parenting and by teaching problem solving skills and anger management may help to reduce violence among some teens, but until we repent as a nation and turn back to God and teach our children to do the same, I’m afraid that nothing will change.
Remember God’s warning through the prophet Isaiah: “Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him… Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Come now, let us settle the matter, says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:4; 16-20)