Posts Tagged ‘Law’

Brothers Arrested for Filming Kids Fight: Video Included

July 2, 2012

A terrible irresponsible and repulsive thing to do.

Click on the link to see clips of the movie.

Two Californian brothers have been arrested after allegedly making a video showing two young children punching, kicking and choking each other as a group of kids and an adult watch.

Gabriel and Agustin Gamboa, 23 and 24 respectively, were arrested on June 29 and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor after Los Angeles TV station KTLA saw the footage and alerted police.

Agustin posted the video on his Facebook page last Wednesday under the title “My nephew messed him up for picking on his home boy”.

The two-minute video shows two boys aged four and five wrestling on the ground and kicking and punching each other.

At one point in the clip Gabriel can be seen moving some cheering children out of shot so his brother can have a clear view as he films.

Cyberbullied Teen Fights Back

April 28, 2012

Well done Alex! Good on you for bypassing a useless system that tacitly allows cyberbullies to wreak havoc and for standing up for yourself. Your school should have protected you, but instead, reportedly hid behind the old “it happened off campus” excuse. I am sick to death of this excuse. Kids are taking their own lives because of cyberbullying. It takes a heartless school not to intervene when clear cases of cyberbullying come to light.

When the police and her school failed to act, it was great to see that Alex and her parents found a more effective avenue. They slapped the bullies with a lawsuit:

When a Georgia middle school student reported to police and school officials that she had been bullied on Facebook, they told her there was not much they could do because the harassment occurred off campus.

So the 14-year-old girl, Alex Boston, is using a somewhat novel strategy to fight back: She’s slapping her two classmates with a libel lawsuit.

As states consider or pass cyberbullying laws in reaction to high-profile cases around the country, attorneys and experts say many of the laws aren’t strong enough, and lawsuits such as this one are bound to become more commonplace.

“A lot of prosecutors just don’t have the energy to prosecute 13-year-olds for being mean,” said Parry Aftab, an attorney and child advocate who runs stopcyberbullying.org. “Parents are all feeling very frustrated, and they just don’t know what to do.”

Almost every state has a law or other policy prohibiting cyberbullying, but very few cover intimidation outside of school property.

Alex, who agreed to be identified to raise awareness about cyberbullying, remembers the mean glances and harsh words from students when she arrived at her suburban Atlanta middle school. She didn’t know why she was being badgered until she discovered the phoney Facebook page. It was her name and information, though her profile picture was doctored to make her face appear bloated.

The page suggested Alex smoked marijuana and spoke a made-up language called “Retardish.” It was also set up to appear that Alex had left obscene comments on other friends’ pages, made frequent sexual references and posted a racist video. The creators also are accused of posting derogatory messages about Alex.

“I was upset that my friends would turn on me like that,” she told The Associated Press. “I was crying. It was hard to go to school the next day.”

Alex learned of the phoney page a year ago and told her parents, who soon contacted administrators at Palmer Middle School and filed a report with Cobb County Police.

“At the time this report was taken in May 2011, we were not aware of any cyberbullying law on the books that would take her specific situation and apply it to Georgia law,” said Cobb County police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce.

Police encouraged the Boston family to report the fake account to Facebook. Alex’s family said despite requests to Facebook to take the page down, the company did not do so. The website was taken down around the time the lawsuit was filed a week ago.

We keep on hearing about Facebook’s determination to stop bullying, and that they are vigilant when concerns are raised over cyberbullying. To refuse to delete this page (as has been alleged) is disgraceful. Only when the lawsuit was filed did they respond. What message does that send?

I hope this story puts some major stakeholders on notice. First there are the bullies who hide behind their computer screens as they attempt to dismantle a classmate’s self-esteem. Then there are the police who could at least advocate on behalf of the victim that Facebook take down the offensive material.

My strongest admonition goes to schools. Enough with the excuses! If you are not willing to get involved in serious cases of bullying, regardless of where the bullying takes place, you don’t deserve the privellege of looking after our children. Smarten up!

No Place for Ambulance Chasers at our Schools

April 23, 2012

Our children have been unfairly dealt with thanks to the rise in litigation. No longer are they able to climb on outdoor equipment, play ball games with balls made of anything more substantial than felt or even do cartwheels in the playground. Occupational Health and Safety in schools has gone from responsible to absolutely over the top! This not only causes great stress to Principals and staff but it clearly diminishes the few freedoms our children have been known to enjoy at school.

Why has there been such a significant upgrading of Occupational Health and Safety requirements in our schools? Perhaps this example explains it:

A 13-YEAR-OLD schoolgirl is being sued by a classmate over a tennis court mishap at one of Queensland’s top private schools in the latest blow to playground fun.

The legal claim, over a bruised eye, has raised concerns that “litigation-crazy” parents could threaten the future of school sport by forcing up insurance costs.

It may also force parents to take out third-party accident insurance for their children.

Several Queensland schools have already banned activities including tiggy, red rover and cartwheels because of injury fears.

The legal stoush has embroiled the daughters of a leading Gold Coast cardiologist and an architect, and the prestigious Somerset College.

Cardiologist Guy Wright-Smith said he was “gobsmacked” to receive the damages claim, addressed to his 13-year-old daughter Julia, at his rooms on Friday.

The claim alleges Julia had hit classmate Finley Enright-Burns in the eye with a tennis ball during a tennis lesson at the Mudgeeraba school last October. It alleges Julia was “smashing” balls back to Finley on the baseline when the incident happened.

Finley did not go to hospital but is alleged to have suffered an eye injury which needed medical treatment.

The claim, filed on behalf of Finley by her architect father Paul Burns, also names Somerset College and its Jay Deacon’s Tennis School as defendants.

“It’s bizarre … beyond belief,” Dr Wright-Smith told The Courier-Mail yesterday.

The claim says the tennis school failed to provide adequate supervision or protective eyewear and allowed Julia and Finley to stand too close together  and Julia to hit two balls at once.

Somerset College also breached its duty of care, the claim alleges.

Damages have not been specified but the Wright-Smiths are required to respond within 30 days.

“I couldn’t believe it when I opened this legal letter addressed to my 13-year-old daughter,”  Dr Wright-Smith said  yesterday

Students Using the First Amendment to Slander Their Principals

January 15, 2012

I am a big believer in free speech. I consider myself very lucky to be in a country where my thoughts and feelings can be expressed freely without recriminations. But like all other laws and freedoms there are boundaries. I might have free speech, but I am also restricted by sensible limitations to what I can say.

When students use social media to call their Principals names like a “big fag”, “whore”, “hairy sex addict” and “pervert”, and the consequence for their actions is nothing more than a suspension, I think they should count themselves very lucky. To then sue on the grounds of freedom of speech and win says a lot about the judicial system and the difficulties educators face in earning basic respect.

A middle school principal in northeastern Pennsylvania was shocked to see his photo online along with a description of him as a “hairy sex addict” and a “pervert” who liked “hitting on students” in his office.

A high school principal north of Pittsburgh saw a MySpace profile of himself that called him a “big fag,” a “whore” and a drug user. And in West Virginia, a school principal found out that a girl had created an online site to maliciously mock another girl as a “slut” with herpes.

All three students were suspended from school and filed suits against the principal and the school districts. They argued the 1st Amendment protected them from being punished for postings from their home computers. And in the two Pennsylvania cases, they won.

Whilst these awful slurs may technically be classified as “free speech”, verbal bullying of any kind can also be defended under the guise of free speech. Is this what we want? People supported by the courts to demoralise, slur and denigrate others? How are principals supposed to tackle bullying when they can’t even deal with bullies who are attacking them?

The exploitation of free speech will see bullying, especially cyber bullying, continue to gain momentum. These students should never have been suspended. They should have been expelled!

Autistic Child Put in Duffel Bag as “Therapy”

December 28, 2011

If you ever wanted a reason why teachers should never be given permission to inflict corporal punishment on children, just reflect on this sickening case. An autistic child who threw a ball across the classroom instead of putting it down as instructed, was subjected to a most unorthodox form of punishment. He was put in a duffel bag with the drawstring pulled tight.

The mother of a nine-year-old autistic boy who was placed in a duffel bag with the drawstring pulled tight has called for the teacher responsible to be dismissed and for the practice to be banned.

Sandra Baker, from Harrodsburg, Kentucky, said that her son, Christopher, has been withdrawn and uncommunicative since the incident at Mercer County Intermediate School two weeks ago.

Baker, who was told her son had been placed in the bag as “therapy” for his autism, in a practice that has been used on other students, said she has had no apology or further communication with the school, despite promises to the contrary.

She said: “You do not put a child in a bag like that for any reason. If I did that to him, I’d be put in jail. We have not heard anything from the superintendent and we have not had an apology.”

What kind of barbaric form of “therapy” is this school handing out? Name me one medical practitioner that suggests time in a duffel bag is the perfect fix for insubordinate behaviour.

And don’t get me started with the schools response (or lack thereof). In these litigious times a school cannot even apologise to rightly disgruntled parents, without the apology seen as a possible green light for a lawsuit.

Even with the apology it seems as though the school hasn’t broken any laws:

Kentucky is one of several states in which no laws exist preventing the use of restraint or seclusion in public schools, according to a document on the Department of Education website.

If we give the teachers the permission to metre out punishments of a physical nature we will see abuse all the time. When teachers (or in this case aides) are capable of this type of ham-fisted reaction, who knows what they will come up with should the parameters widen.

Think Twice Before Branding Thoughless Kids as Paedophiles

November 24, 2011

Last month I wrote the following comment about the lunacy of putting naive children on child pornography charges:

The same laws that seek to protect children are being severely undermined by a total lack of common sense.

Australia has a sexual offender registry which was designed to assist the government authorities to keep track of the residence and activities of sex offenders.  You don’t have to be Einstein to realise that being on that list is detrimental to that person’s ability to get a job, loan, sense of freedom and quality of life.

The registry is a vital tool in dealing with pedophiles.  That is why I was astounded to read that children caught ‘sexting’ photos of themselves or friends have been put on this very list.

Two days ago I spoke against the “Sneaky Hat” craze.  “Sneaky Hat” refers to teenagers posting half-naked pictures of themselves with a hat covering their genitals.  As much I find this fad quite unpleasant and potentially dangerous, I would be very disappointed if the teenage founders of this craze to face child pornography charges:

Police are investigating a Facebook craze that originated in Queensland encouraging teenagers to post pictures of themsleves nude on the internet.

The Queensland teenagers behind the new Facebook craze “Sneaky Hat” and contributors to the website could face child pornography charges, a cyber safety expert says.

The craze involves young people posting naked pictures of themselves with a hat covering their genitals and/or breasts, and has spawned similar social media pages, websites and Youtube videos.

The original page was started by 15-year-old students from Dalby, Queensland “for a laugh” but quickly attracted about 100 photos of their friends in the “Sneaky Hat” pose — and more than 10,000 followers.

“We just thought it was funny, but after a while it started like getting wild, out of control,” the Sneaky Hat website’s founder told ninemsn.

“There were all these people who were posting naked pictures and stuff.”

“My mum saw it, she knew and just thought it was funny.”

Police have now requested the images and Youtube videos created by the students.

Cyber safety expert Susan McLean, formerly of the Victoria Police cyber safety project, said the page was infamous around the world and that “any pedophile worth his salt” would be saving the pictures for their own purposes.

“I would question the brain matter of these parents,” McLean said. “That it is just for fun or between friends is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard.”

“This is a form of child pornography and they need to realise that the law applies to teenagers just as much as anyone else.

Well if that is the case, change the law! It is just plain senseless to ruin the life of silly immature teens by charging them with an offence intended for paedophiles. This isn’t just dumb. By bunching young, stupid teenagers with sick, evil paedophiles, we completely undermine the significance of being on the sex registry.

Anti-Bullying Legislation Criticised for Allowing Bullying

November 6, 2011

You know you’ve messed up completely when the father of the child you’ve named your legislation after publicly denounces it.

The legislation, called “Matt’s Safe School Law,” was named after Matt Epling, an honor-roll student who killed himself at the age of 14 in 2002 after being assaulted by anti-gay bullies at his school.

The draft law, which passed the state Senate with 26 Republican votes against 11 Democratic votes and now advances to the lower house, includes language inserted before the vote that says the bill “does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held belief or moral conviction” of a student or school worker.

Activists say that the provision gives bullies license to prey on other students — especially those who are gay, lesbian or transgender — and, at least as important, gives bystanders who should be trying to stop bullying an excuse not to intervene.

The real story here is not the amendment which undermines the whole essence of the legislation, but it is the value of the legislation to begin with.  The essence of this legislation is to “push each school district in the state to write their own anti-bullying policy.”  Australian schools have been mandated for some time to have their own anti-bullying policies.  These policies are wonderful at preventing schools from being targets of litigation.  They can simply point to their vague and fickle policy and ward off most lawsuits.  But when it comes to its ability to prevent bullying behaviours it has been completely useless.

Bullying legislation has never and will never have a marked impact on bullies and bullying behaviour.

In the name of Matt Epling and all others who have been subjected to malicious bouts of bullying, stop pretending to do something and actually devise something that actually works!

Law Requiring Schools to Weigh Students Must Be Repealed

October 24, 2011

You have got to be kidding me!  How can so-called intelligent adults pass a law so downright cruel?  Sometimes I think adults take advantage of the resilience of children.  They think they can impose great humiliation on poor, naive children, without any long-term cost.

Well I have news for you – children, like adults, don’t like being made to feel ugly, different or unworthy.  So why on earth would you pass a law that mandates schools to weigh children so that their weight can be compared with others?

A state law requiring schools to measure a child’s height and weight to find out how they stack up against their peers has generated plenty of controversy, but not a lot of local participation.

School officials say the law’s aim to combat childhood obesity is a worthy cause, but its approach is questionable.

The law measures body mass index, which is calculated from height and weight and given as a percentile. It’s generally a snapshot of a person’s overall body fat, but many argue it doesn’t take into account individual body types or other health risks.

Schools are required to take those measurements for students in kindergarten, third, fifth and ninth grades, then report that data to the Ohio Department of Health and mail the results to parents.

State education officials say similar health screenings, such as hearing and vision tests, have been done for many years with the results kept private.

What if the law was to include Ohio politicians?  What if they were forced to step on the scale in front of their peers and were measured for all to see?

Yes, privacy might be assured, but children aren’t stupid.  They know why they are being measured, and the humiliation of the procedure will not be lost on the overweight.

This plan is doomed to failure.

My wish, as idealistic as it sounds, is to make our children comfortable with who they are, regardless of their weight.  Whilst I strongly advocate educating children about healthy eating choices and encouraging active lifestyles, I am even more concerned about the inner wellbeing of the child.  To me, the tragedy is not that there are obese children, but that there are children who feel unworthy, ugly and hopeless because of their weight.

It’s time to get rid of the scales and let our children know that their worth is not the sum total of what they weigh, but rather, who they are and how they treat others.

False Allegations Ruin Teachers’ Lives

October 16, 2011

Teaching is a profession that involves a great deal of responsibility and requires a high level of trust. But that trust is easily eroded.

The risks of teaching for many males outweigh the obvious benefits.  It is a noted fact that prospective male primary teachers often decide not to join the profession because of the fear of a false allegation.  And it’s not only males.  Female teachers are also the subject of malicious accusations.

Figures from the Department for Education show that around 44 per cent of claims made by pupils and their parents were “unsubstantiated, malicious or unfounded”.

In one-in-five cases, teachers were automatically suspended while investigations into allegations were carried out, despite widespread concerns over a wave of false claims.

Fewer than one-in-20 allegations levelled at staff resulted in a criminal conviction.

The Government warned that false allegations had a “devastating impact” on teachers’ lives.

Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, said: “Every allegation of abuse must be taken seriously, but some children think they can make a false allegation without any thought to the consequences for the teacher concerned.

“When these allegations are later found to be malicious or unfounded, the damage is already done. It can have a devastating impact and ruin a teacher’s career and private life.

“This research shows why the Coalition Government’s plan to give teachers a legal right to anonymity when allegations are made by pupils is so important.”

The Government obtained data from 116 out of 150 local authorities in England.

It found that 12,086 allegations of abuse had been made by schools in 2009/10.

Almost a fifth resulted in teachers being suspended while allegations were investigated. More than half of investigations took longer than a month to complete – beyond the target limit identified by the Government.

Whilst I am a huge advocate for encouraging victims of abuse to go public with their allegations, I am mindful that many innocent teachers tend to be implicated for crimes they never committed.

Laws That Seek To Protect Our KIds Fail Them

October 9, 2011

The same laws that seek to protect children are being severely undermined by a total lack of common sense.

Australia has a sexual offender registry which was designed to assist the government authorities to keep track of the residence and activities of sex offenders.  You don’t have to be Einstein to realise that being on that list is detrimental to that person’s ability to get a job, loan, sense of freedom and quality of life.

The registry is a vital tool in dealing with pedophiles.  That is why I was astounded to read that children caught ‘sexting’ photos of themselves or friends have been put on this very list:

HUNDREDS of teenagers have been charged over producing or distributing child pornography amid growing concern that “sexting” has reached epidemic levels.

In the past three years, more than 450 child pornography charges have been laid against youths between the ages of 10 and 17, including 113 charges of “making child exploitation material”.

More than 160 charges were laid in 2010 alone – 26 more than in 2008.

Parents and communities continue to grapple with the issue of “sexting”, where sexual images are exchanged via SMS.

Teens who engage in sexting not only risk child pornography charges, but can also be listed alongside serial pedophiles and rapists on sexual offender lists.

Police confirmed that some juvenile offenders appear on Queensland’s sex offender registry.

Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said “a lack of parental supervision” was a key factor.

“They’re ignorant of the law and no one’s ever sat them down and said ‘When you take a picture of yourself and send it, that’s child pornography’,” he said.

Dr Carr-Gregg said a conviction would have a “catastrophic” effect on a teenager’s future.

“If a young person is put on the sex offenders registry, they have to notify police every time they change their hair colour and wouldn’t easily get visas to places overseas, and it’s going to make employment difficult,” he said.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally against the practice of “sexting”.  I don’t like it one bit.  But these kids are not sex offenders.  One of the reasons children shouldn’t be ‘sexting’ in the first place is to make sure those images don’t get in the hands of a real sex offender.

The application of this law does 2 very serious things.

1.  It paints children wrongly as sex offenders.  This may have dire consequences down the track; and

2. Having ‘phony’ sex offenders on a sex offender registry completely undermines the registry in the first place.  This is a very serious list, dedicated to sick and evil people.  It shouldn’t be undermined by including silly kids who made poor choices.

It is time the Government stepped in and amended the law so common sense can be restored.


%d bloggers like this: