Monday, March 19, 2007

Neb. High Court characterizes repeated, persistent bullying as "Stalking"

For far too long bullying in schools, especially of girls, has been dismissed as being "just a stage" or that the victims just need to "get a thicker skin." Schools often say they cannot do anything about the situations, and that it should be handled by the parents

In at least one case, however, persistent bullying has been recognized as the brutalizing and fear-inducing act that it is.

Neb. court says bullying was stalking
LINCOLN, Neb. --A teenager who called a schoolmate "fat penguin" and other derogatory names in front of other students for months committed misdemeanor stalking, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday

The ruling overturned an appeals court finding that the 16-year-old's actions were intended only for his "own juvenile amusement."

According to court documents, the teen identified only as Jeffrey K. yelled at the girl close to 200 times over two months in 2004 at Omaha Westside High School. He shoved a chair directly into her path, causing her to stumble, repeatedly called her a "whore" and threw food at her, yelling "eat some more, fat ass."

Lets see, bullying that was repeated each day, every school day, for months. Where the hell was the school system all this time, that these actions were permitted to continue for such a long period, and in such a public fashion? Never mind that the incidents with the chair and the thrown food could also be classed as "assault."

A Juvenile Court found that the boy had committed misdemeanor stalking, but an appeals court overturned that judgement.

But I guess they figured it was just a case of "boys will be boys," because the victim, herself a minor, testified that the tone of voice was "mean, but not, really -- like, threatening."

On the face, the victim changed her daily routine in order to avoid her harasser, presumably out of fear. But, because the appellate court viewed the statute only in a subjective manner, they reversed the Juvenile Court.

The state supreme court in its decision (In re Interest of Jeffrey K.) took an objective view of the case, and decided that, from an independent, external view,
based upon our review, we determine that the record contains evidence beyond a reasonable doubt demonstrating that a reasonable person would be “seriously . . . intimidated” by Jeffrey’s ongoing verbal and physical attacks as required under § 28‑311.02(2)(a).
It's about damn time some of this behavior is called for what it is.

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