One day last winter Margarite posed naked before her bathroom mirror, held up her cellphone and took a picture. Then she sent the full-length frontal photo to Isaiah, her new boyfriend.Margarite is a very troubled and vulnerable teen. Her ex-boyfriend sounds like a real dunce.
Both were in eighth grade.
They broke up soon after. A few weeks later, Isaiah forwarded the photo to another eighth-grade girl, once a friend of Margarite’s. Around 11 o’clock at night, that girl slapped a text message on it.
“Ho Alert!” she typed. “If you think this girl is a whore, then text this to all your friends.” Then she clicked open the long list of contacts on her phone and pressed “send.”
He told the police that the other girl had pressured him into sending her Margarite’s photo, vowing she just wanted to look at it. He said he had not known that their friendship had disintegrated.If he really wanted to show her the photo, then he should have showed her the photo on his phone. Why did he text it to her phone? A real dunce. Or a liar.
Even before this incident, the former friend had bullied Margarite to the point that she had to eat lunch alone. Then she manipulated the ex-boyfriend to send her the photo to her phone. This was a pre-meditated act of annihilation of another human being. She knew exactly what she was doing and planned for the photo to go viral.
Rick Peters, the prosecuting attorney, never intended for the Chinook Middle School students to receive draconian sentences. But he wanted to send a scared-straight message to them, as well as to the community.
Yet when the local news media storm cascaded, the outcry was not about the severe penalties for a felony sexting conviction. It was about why Mr. Peters had not also arrested Margarite.
“She’s a victim,” Mr. Peters said. “She made an ill-advised decision to share that picture with her boyfriend. As far as she knew, that was as far as it would go.
He decided against charging Margarite. But he did charge three students with dissemination of child pornography, a Class C felony, because they had set off the viral outbreak.
After school had been let out that day in late January, the police read Isaiah his rights, cuffed his hands behind his back and led him and Margarite’s former friend out of the building. The eighth graders would have to spend the night in the county juvenile detention center.
And that's the thing that really bothers me. The outcry from the community was about making Isaiah and the former friend do the perp walk and not charging Margarite.
Read some of the comments from the article. So many people think that the DA overreacted by charging the three teens.
I think Isaiah and the 13 year old got what they deserved for their stupidity. But the instigator of the mayhem got off too lightly. Community service for destroying a girl's life? That's a slap on the wrist. Consider her subsequent behavior.
One spring evening, the three students who had been disciplined met for a mediation session with Margarite and two facilitators from Community Youth Services.
The former friend who had forwarded the photo, creating the uproar, was accompanied by her mortified father, an older sister and a translator. She came across as terse and somewhat perfunctory, recalled several people who were there.
Those three students would have to create public service material about the hazards of sexting, attend a session with Margarite to talk about what happened and otherwise have no contact with her.
After Margarite and her mother approved the conditions, Mr. Peters signed off, pleased.
Throughout last spring, on Monday afternoons after school, Eric Fredericks, Isaiah’s math teacher, met with the three students to help them develop their material.
Margarite’s former friend made a PowerPoint presentation, with slides copied from the Internet.
Not only is she an unrepentent bully of royal proportions, but she is a plagiarist, too. She has obviously not learned a lesson. She got away with it. She will do it again and again.
Why did the NY Times use Margarite and Isaiah's first names and not name the former friend?
If you were in a position to hire her or admit her to your school, wouldn't you want to know her behavior history? I wouldn't want to have that sociopath anywhere near me or accept liability for anything she might do on the premises. Would you want a unrepentent bully and plagiarist at your campus?
I gave my daughter Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons and we discussed some of the mean girls at her school. I've also spoken to the principal about a minor incident. But bullying, with and without technological tools, scares the crap out of me.
Simmons wrote in Odd Girl Out that girl-on-girl aggression is most extreme in white girls from rich and upper middle class backgrounds. My daughter attends a very diverse school that gets lower mean standardized test scores.
We live right next to one of the wealthiest zip codes in the US, and their middle school gets higher mean standardized test scores. They have way more money for extras, too. It's even closer to our house than the "home district" school that she attends.
But I would not dream of asking for an inter-district transfer because of their bullying problem. I heard about a girl in that school who was bullied so badly, she had to transfer to a school in an extremely high-poverty area to get away from her tormentors. Actually, there are several girls at my daughter's economically diverse school that are refugees from the richer school. But, right now, her school is full up. No new inter-district transfers were accepted this year.
Do you think it is time for a national registry for bullies? (And plagiarists, too.) Why is it always the bullied kids that have to change schools?