Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Help Me Howard: Bullied at School
A bully, not a four letter word but close, and the victim is usually a student in a school. The latest a young girl, photographed by another student while changing clothes in a locker room, and what happened next would make any parent furious. But what can be done? It's why one family called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Remember the name Sierra Gilley, a remarkably talented high school student.
Sierra Dawn Gilley: "Yeah I've been working on it for a while."
A 15-year-old who has created her own superhereo comic books.
Sierra Dawn Gilley: "It's called Nerd, and its actually acronym stands for Never Ending Rulers of Darkness."
One day Sierra may be known for her art but this month at school she became known for a picture that has devastated Sierra and her father.
Matt Gilley: "This has really destroyed her though. She's a really innocent child."
Sierra was in her gym class at Robert Morgan High School, changing clothes with the other 9th grade girls.
Sierra Dawn Gilley: "And as I was dressing I saw this group of three or four girls holding up a cell phone, they were giggling. I though maybe they were looking like some funny picture or video or something."
Sierra didn't know the girls but two days later, a friend whispered to her that the girls were showing everyone a picture they had taken of Sierra in her underwear, and that they had posted on the internet for everyone to see.
Matt Gilley: "I was told the picture was of her from behind that you couldn't see her face. That her hair basically covered her face all you can see was her panties."
The picture of Sierra in her underwear had been posted by a Robert Morgan student on her Facebook page. Normally at school Sierra is shy, at that moment she says she was in shock.
Sierra Dawn Gilley: "Yeah but when I think about just walking down the hall and seeing other kids just giggling and laughing."
Sierra was called to the vice principals office where they told her they had seen the picture and that the girl had removed it from her Facebook page. But no-one knows how many people took the picture it and shared it with their friends all over the world.
Sierra Dawn Gilley: "No this is not funny. Its devastating really its terrifying."
A school official would not tell Matt the girls that were involved in the cyber bullying, and he was told no criminal charges could be filed.
Sierra says a school official did tell her the the girl who posted the picture on Facebook was going to be suspended for 10 days.
Sierra Dawn Gilley: "And to me and most of the people I have talked to about this really all that seems like is a 10 day vacation. How is anyone suppose to learn they did anything wrong from a 10 day vacation."
The suspension for the girl who took the picture will end. Sierra says she doesn't know if she will get over her humiliation.
Sierra Dawn Gilley: "I'm embarrassed to go back to the school. I'm scared to go back to school."
But Howard, is this kids trying to play a funny prank or is this a crime?
Howard Finkelstein: "The kid who did it may have thought it was a prank, but its a crime called video voyeurism. That means you take a picture of someone where they had an expectation of privacy such as a bathroom or a locker room. And posting it on the internet is an entirely separate crime."
When we talked to the school district spokesman, John Schuester told us they were taking this bullying issue seriously. That the police could not charge the girl who took the picture and posted it because it was deleted before the school could make a copy.
He confirmed one student was suspended for 10 days and has been banned from the locker room. They also offered Sierra counseling and then met with Sierras parents to answer all their questions and deal with their concerns.
Howard Finkelstein: "Technically the police could get a subpoena to try to get the deleted picture from Facebook or prosecute the girls by calling witnesses who saw the picture, but at the least, hopefully the parents and the school will make the kids realize the damage their picture has caused."
Matt Gilley: "Help me Howard made all the difference in the world."
Matt says after we got involved the school realized how devastating this was for Sierra. They helped her and she then went back to school where no-one made a big deal of the picture.
Sierra Dawn Gilley: "Things will move on hopefully everything will go back to normal eventually."
Patrick Fraser: "Bullying is nothing new but throw in the internet and its amazing how many students are being tortured some even committing suicide. Maybe its time the punishment became more severe, instead of slaps on the wrist. If you are being bullied and cant get help at your school school districts do have a hotline to call for help."
Feel like a business, a bureaucrat is bullying you? Run to us. We will beat em up with the law.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Coping with Bullys Hotline
Miami Dade School District----305-995-2273
Broward School District----753-321-0911
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD: