It doesn’t matter how sensitive the themes in Jessica Barba’s anti-bullying movie is, at least she has the presence of mind to do something about the issue. Yes, a fictionalised suicide may be pushing the boundaries somewhat, but bullied children do commit suicide. I would much rather teenagers address the issue than sit back and ignore it.
The Long Island student suspended over her anti-bullying video and fake Facebook page is garnering national attention. For the first time since the incident played out over YouTube, the school is speaking out to CBS 2.
It’s been a whirlwind of publicity for 15-year-old Jessica Barba, but not the kind she expected. She anticipated a few thousand hits on online. Instead, she has made headlines and appeared on national television.
“As long as the word about bullying is getting out, that’s what it was all about in the first place. If I’m able to touch more kids’ lives, that’s what I will do,” she told reporters.
“Her project turned out so wonderfully and we’re so proud of it,” said Barba’s mother, Jody.
The Longwood School District remained mum on how Barba “created a substantial disruption” and “violated school policy,” but CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan caught up with the reluctant superintendent, Dr. Allan Gerstenlauer.
McLogan: “Why are you unable to speak about this?”
Gerstenlauer: “We cannot speak about any student discipline issue because of the privacy issues that are engaged in that.”
The school said privacy issues are the only reason they aren’t speaking about reprimanding Barba for creating the fake Facebook page and YouTube video about a fictitious teen who commits suicide after being bullied in school and online.
Jessica Barba said it was part of a school project on persuasive speech. A parent alerted police and the school, apparently concerned that it was all real. Although a caption at the beginning and end states the character, 12-year-old “Hailey,” is fictional.
Since then, students have claimed they have been threatened for wearing t-shirts they created, petitions and flyers in support of Barba’s project.
The school has denied any threats. The principal and Barba’s guidance counselor, along with her parents, have a 7 a.m. meeting on Thursday.
Barba’s suspension began one week ago. She hopes to be reinstated and return to class to turn in her anti-bullying project.