Monday, July 12, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Teen Attack on Tape
As we've witnessed time and again, when teenagers resort to violence, things can turn ugly fast. But once the fighting ends and the dust settles, it's not always over. Many fights take on new life: online. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- This on-camera fist fight hit close to home for Kareen Vernon.
Kareen Vernon: "This is where the fight started."
The 16-year-old was just steps away from her front door in Lauderhill when she was attacked near the end of the school year.
Kareen Vernon: "This girl came behind me, and she was like, 'Forget this.' And she hit me."
And this was no one-on-one affair.
Watch closely. At some point during the skirmish, at least three girls can be seen swinging at Kareen, with more kids standing by, watching the whole thing go down.
Kareen Vernon: "Another girl jumped in, and then, that's when the next girl jumped in, and then, the three of them were, like, jumping me."
The fight ended before Kareen got seriously hurt.
Kareen Vernon: "I got, like, a scratch. It's like a scar now, and, like, they busted my lip, but it's not that bad. I mean, it heals."
Victims of teen violence aren't always so lucky. We have seen youngsters set on fire and beaten so severely that they are left with physical and mental issues that will haunt them throughout the rest of their lives.
Karen Vernon, Kareen's mother: "I'm like, 'What do you mean, they jumped you?' And she said a bunch of kids got in a fight with her."
Karen Vernon wanted the girls prosecuted, but since her daughter didn't know their names, it didn't look like that would happen. But then, someone posted the video on the Internet, and the horrified mom watched it.
Karen Vernon: "It's one thing for my daughter to tell me what happened, but when you're seeing all these kids attacking your child, it really hurt you, and I was like, 'Oh my God, my baby could have been dead.'"
Captain Constance Stanley, Lauderhill Police Department: "I was very, very disturbed by it."
Lauderhill Police Captain Constance Stanley says, the video is now evidence.
Captain Constance Stanley: "In reviewing the video, you can clearly see several subjects pounding on her, and coming up to her, fighting her, so this will definitely help her cause."
That's the benefit. But experts see the fight and the Internet posting as yet another example of a disturbing trend.
Meline Kevorkian, Nova Southeastern University: "We are failing as adults."
Nova Southeastern University's Meline Kevorkian is an expert on bullying and has written three books on the subject.
Meline Kevorkian: "When we put something online, we open up the number of bystanders. Now, this just didn't impact the kids who were there and witnessed it, but thousands."
And thousands have watched Kareen's attack. It is believed the girls who jumped her were middle school students at the time, and that this fall, they will be going to Piper High School, where Kareen will also be a student.
Meline Kevorkian: "I can't imagine that that fear is not going to be in that child's mind or the humiliation by all the people who have seen and witnessed this."
Carmel Cafiero: "The case is now in the hands of the State Attorney's Office, which may file battery charges against the girls who attacked Kareen. They could end up starting their high school careers facing criminal charges."
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