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Pennsylvania Teen Convicted of a Crime For Recording Bullies at School

Pennsylvania Teen Convicted of a Crime For Recording Bullies at School

Written by Carimah Townes

A 15-year old boy with ADHD, comprehension delay disorder and an anxiety disorder recorded classmates bullying him in school. But instead of reprimanding the tormentors, school officials targeted the boy for wiretapping — and he was later convicted of disorderly conduct by a district judge.

Using an iPad, a student at South Fayette High School in Pennsylvania whose name is undisclosed, recorded a seven minute video of his peers trying to harass him. In the recording, two other students discuss pulling the victim’s pants down, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. And a loud noise is heard further into the recording, after which a student said, “I was just trying to scare him.”

According to the victim, being bullied is a daily occurrence. Speaking to South Fayette District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet, he explained: “This wasn’t just a one-time thing. This always happens every day in that class.” He revealed that he used the iPad to expose what was happening to him. “Because I always felt like it wasn’t me being heard,” the boy told McGraw-Dismet.

The high school staff knew about the bullying prior to the iPad incident. Assistant Principal Aaron Skrbin testified that Shea Love, the victim’s mother, previously voiced concerns about the tormentors. Last October, she approached the school when a classmate targeted the victim with spitwads — but Skrbin did not “[classify] that as bullying.”

When school officials learned about the recording, Principal Scott Milburn contacted local police on February 12, for what he considered a “wiretapping incident.” After approaching the boy for questioning, South Fayette Lieutenant Robert Kurta told him to dispose of the recording, and charged him with disorderly conduct. In Pennsylvania, the low-level crime is known as a “summary offense,” and does not typically result in jail time for juveniles. Nonetheless, they can stay on a juvenile’s criminal record. McGraw-Desmet later upheld the charges, fining the student “a minimum of $25.” The 15-year old was also ordered to pay court costs. Love is currently trying to get the decision reversed.

Statistics show that millions of students are bullied every year, and that teachers only intervene in 4 percent of incidents.

Meanwhile, teachers and school officials frequently turn to police to handle disciplinary violations at school, in what is known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Last December, for example, a group of three African American boys were charged for disorderly conduct after police claimed they were blocking “pedestrian traffic while standing on the sidewalk.” The three students were waiting for a school bus.

This post originally appeared on ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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179 comments

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6:20AM PDT on Jul 13, 2014

Stop punishing the victim!

2:33AM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

I think the kid was pretty smart recording the bullies! I think the judge and the assistant principle are stupid for just brushing off as nothing!!

9:54PM PDT on May 10, 2014

The people of the school system need to be fired for handling student problems irresponsibly. This is just apalling.

7:21PM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

The school should have spent more time reviewing this.

7:21PM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

The school should have spent more time reviewing this.

1:40PM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

Looks like this crap has surfaced AGAIN. OMG!! Time to get a LIFE and GROW up,and put a STOP to this CRAZINESS . ENOUGH is ENOUGH! Thank-you for sharing.T.R ;)

10:17AM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

You all have read about the numerous shootings by officers of family dogs, stray dogs, etc. because they were "in fear for their lives", right? And don't carry-conceal gun laws allow a person to shoot another person if they are also "in fear for their lives" or because they were being attacked, burglarized, etc.? Now to taping these incidents - would a court throw out a video of a rape, a burglary, home-invasion, car theft, assault, etc.? Aren't those admissible as evidence? If bullying causing physical/mental/psychological harm to an individual were classified as a misdemeanor crime, wouldn't a video of the bullying also be admissible in a court o law? (probably not) Perhaps the school authorities and the legal system would have preferred that this young man take a baseball bat to school and smash his assailants in the head with it to stop the incidents from happening. The complete idiocy of allowing bullying to continue in our "supremely-advanced" (not!) society without labeling it as a form of illegal anti-social behavior with consequences is totally unacceptable and needs to change across this country - seriously!

9:31AM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

Ridiculous.

7:06AM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

For those of you who say he was never convicted; what article did YOU read?

The article above says

"McGraw-Desmet later upheld the charges, fining the student “a minimum of $25.” The 15-year old was also ordered to pay court costs."

6:17AM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

Poor kid should be rewarded for finding a non-violent way of dealing with his ordeal. The bullies are lucky he didn't just take in a gun and kill them. They should perhaps think about that in future. Of course bullies usually pick on the nice kids who they know won't hurt them, being the cowards they are.

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