Yesterday a teenage boy opened fire at his suburban Cleveland high school killing one student and wounding four others. The boy was considered an outcast by his peers and had apparently been bullied by his classmates.
In a school in Long Beach, California another school tragedy has taken the life of another student far too soon, that of 10-year-old Joanna Ramos.
After school at Willard Elementary School, Ramos was involved in a fight with an 11-year-old classmate in an alley near the school over a boy. Some friends tried to stop the fight, but were held back by boys who were watching.
“They took off their backpacks, and they put their hair in a bun, and then that’s when they said ‘go’ and that’s when they started hitting each other,” said classmate Maggie Martinez, who watched the fight.
There were no weapons involved in the fight and Ramos proceeded to her after-school program after the fight ended. After complaining that she didn’t feel well, she was picked up early by a relative. Later that night she was vomiting and complained of a headache. Ramos was eventually rushed to the emergency room where she underwent surgery for a brain blood clot.
The young girl did not make it. According to the coroner’s report she died of blunt force trauma to the head. Ramos’ death has since launched a homicide investigation.
What strikes me most about this incredibly tragic story is how many lost opportunities there were to intervene and stop the fight. There were several onlookers at the fight – any of whom could have ran to tell a teacher at the nearby school or call an adult. It also seems like the fight was premeditated so there could have been opportunities prior to the fight to tell someone what was going to happen.
In fact, according to the Press-Telegram one of the girls’ classmates had told a teacher that the girls had been fighting over a boy and she said she would talk to them Monday. Little did the teacher know that it would be too late.
What does Ramos’ death teach us?
We need to teach kids that turning to violence in a fight is incredibly dangerous and carries heavy consequences. Kids also need to learn how important it is to tell a trusted adult if they know a fight is going to happen and school staff need to take these reports seriously and act swiftly. Sharing that kind of information could save someone’s life. It could have saved Ramos’ life.
While statistics find that boys engage in physical bullying more often than girls I think this trend is changing. As someone who works with teenage girls on a daily basis I see how often girls turn to violence to solve their problems with other girls. Lashing out aggressively in physical fights is not exclusively an issue among boys. It is something girls engage in as well.
What do you think? Is girl-on-girl violence on the rise?
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Photo Credit: Redjar