South Fayette in the wrong in bully case

Published Apr 23, 2014 at 5:09 am (Updated Apr 22, 2014 at 9:49 am)

Children, teenagers, even adults, can be cruel. This is not new information. Bullying has been going on for ages, but lately, perhaps with the advent of the Internet and social media, a new light is being shed on its serious, serious consequences. According to the website bullyingstatistics.org, bullying victims are two to nine times more likely to commit suicide, and that risk increases with girls ages 10-14.

And, lets not forget that the deeply disturbed individuals who commit heinous crimes like mass school shootings and stabbings are often the victims of bullying.

The information that is available now, and the focus on many schools and organizations to raise awareness and stop bullying, makes what happened recently at South Fayette High School all the more disgusting and horrible.

Christian Stanfield, a 15-year-old sophomore, after being fed up with repeated torment from classmates, recorded an incident of himself being bullied in math class. When school officials learned of the recording, not only did they make him delete it, but he was charged with felony wiretapping – but not before his mother, Shea Love, could transcribe it.

The charges were eventually lowered to disorderly conduct, and, following a lot of media coverage and an appeal scheduled for April 29, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office dropped the charges completely.

According to the transcription of the recording, the teacher didn’t step in and stop the bullying – merely, he allegedly told the students that if they weren’t talking about math, to stop talking.

We don’t want to hear the excuse that the teacher didn’t know exactly what those boys were saying – in a classroom setting where the teacher has control, it should be quiet enough to hear anything that any student says.

To our knowledge, as of press time, the students who were bullying Stanfield have not seen any repercussions to their actions, nor has the teacher. This sends a horrible message to not only Stanfield, but to other students being bullied. It sends a message that their teachers and administrators, who they should be able to trust to protect students, will not do so. It sends a message that bullying, taunting, teasing other students is OK – and it most certainly is not.

This story, this case, took the attention off of the matter at hand – bullying – and twisted it into a ridiculous wiretapping case.

While we are aware that it is illegal to record anyone in the state of Pennsylvania without their permission, this is a case that went entirely too far. The DA’s office issued a statement saying: “We do not believe his conduct rises to the level of the citation.”

If there is any good to come out of this, it is that Rep. Jesse White (D-Cecil Township) is putting together a bill that will create an exception to the state’s wiretapping laws.

We fully support Christian’s Law, but we hope that one day, it won’t be necessary.

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