A teenager is facing a disorderly conduct conviction after he recorded his classmates bullying him and played the recording for school administrators. Rather than acting on the information in the recording in which his classmates threatened him and insulted him, school officials forced him to erase the recording, gave him detention, and reported to the police that he had violated wiretapping laws.
This case is particularly shocking as it has become clear that bullying is a growing problem in our schools and bullying victims often experience psychological distress which can sometimes develop into depression or even suicidal thoughts. The school is sending a clear message in this case that not only are they unwilling to stand up for bullying victims, but also that those who try to advocate for themselves to stop the torment may be punished.
The boy said he made the recording after seeking help from school officials and being turned away. He has some medical conditions such as an anxiety disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that may have made him the target of bullying.
The 15-year-old high school student is appealing the conviction, which many commentators have called “unfounded”.
This case and others like it in which juveniles are criminally punished for incidents that occur at school raise a lot of questions about how schools handle disciplinary problems. Here it is not clear why the school felt criminal prosecution was necessary or why in addition to refusing to help the boy, administrators felt he needed to be punished for his actions.
Source: ABA Journal, “Teen criminally convicted for recording his classmates bullying him in school,” Debra Cassens Weiss, April 16, 2014.