TAKE ACTION: Student Suspended For Creating Anti-Bullying Video

15-year-old Jessica Barba, a freshman at Longwood High School in Middle Island, NY, has been suspended for five days after creating an anti-bullying video as part of a school project and a Facebook page about a fictional 12-year-old girl who commits suicide.

As Barba tells Matt Lauer on the TODAY show, the purpose of the project was simply “to raise awareness of the major issue that’s bullying” — it is outrageous that she is being punished for her efforts to highlight an issue that has, tragically, become a pervasive feature of too many students’ lives and that has been the reason some have committed suicide.

The video, which Barba posted on YouTube, told the story of a made-up 12-year-old, Hailey Bennett (played by Barba), who was said to have lost her mother at the age of 3, been abused by her father, was left alone after her friends moved away and was the victim of daily bullying, at school and on the mock Facebook page. “Hailey” eventually takes her own life. Both the video and the Facebook page had disclaimers that made it clear that “Hailey” was fictional.

Barba included an update on the Facebook page that said “I wanna be dead.” This was seen by a parent who contacted police who then contacted Barba’s school, says MSNBC. Barba was summoned to the principal’s office and shown printouts that did not contain the disclaimer:

“I tried explaining it so much … they had the printouts of the page but none of the printouts that they had were the ones where I specify that it was a fake page,” Jessica said, adding that the person who handed them over “hadn’t been able to go down far enough to see that it was fake.”

Her mother, Jody, did bring printouts showing the disclaimer to school officials, but she told Lauer, “they didn’t really care too much about that.”

Barba says that, after the assistant principal asked her for the password to the mock Facebook page, she gave it him. As she told NBC New York, she was unable to log back into the page afterward and the page has now been taken down. She also said that school officials had told her to take down the video from the web “because that would help soften the blow of her punishment.” But after she was suspended for five days, she reposted the video, noting that

“I hope the school realizes this is wrong because all I wanted to do was highlight an important issue. Maybe this video will make a difference in the way kids see things.”

As NBC New York reports, Superintendent Allan Gerstenlauer says that the video was “unfortunate in that it created a substantial disruption to the school.”

Barba faces a suspension hearing at her school today. Her father, Michael Barba, is calling her punishment “extensive” and is demanding she be allowed to return to school, that the suspension be erased and that she be allowed to submit the project as school work. As he says to the TODAY show:

“This is a great project. There’s thousands of people that love it, and it can be fixed. This can be fixed, simple.”

“I’m very proud of the things she’s done here.”

Will Longwood High School do the right thing and acknowledge that Barba should be lauded for her efforts to fight bullying, not punished? What kind of message is the school district sending to the bullies?

Sign the petition to tell Superintendent Gerstenlauer to let Jessica Barba back in school!


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Photo by artworksbytb


Judy Moran
Judy M4 years ago

Shame on the school officials! They should all be suspended. They are definitely not role models for our youth. Just the opposite! They should know better and do the right thing. They're as bad as the bullies themselves. When I was in 6th grade I was bullied. When I finally got up enough nerve to tell a teacher, nothing changed. It continued on for the next 3 years by the same person. I told teachers, my mother, and finally the principal... to no avail!! I had nowhere to turn. The principal was too scared, I finally realized, to do anything. I thought to myself that if he was that scared of this girl, then I was doomed! One day I'd finally had enough, so I confronted her in the bathroom, with a couple of others present, and asked her what I had done to make her hate me so much that she wanted to do harm to me. Her response, "Nothing, I'd done nothing... she didn't hate me". Thereafter, she became very friendly towards me. I had tried ignoring her (for 4 yrs.) as I'd been told to do, and that only made things worse. Once confronted, everything changed for the better. Lesson: Ignoring problems does not make them go away. Stand up for what's right, always. Deal with the issues when they begin. Don't drag them out. That's how I live my life.

Jessica Barba did nothing wrong. She's a very impressive young lady and should be rewarded, NOT punished for her goodness. Thank you for sharing her story!

Stenpney John
Past Member 4 years ago

This blog post is really great; the standard stuff of the post is genuinely amazing.

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Elizabeth S.
Elizabeth Fuller5 years ago

This wonderful bright and promising young woman has great talent. The video was very well done with a strong message...not only did the message get across, but it also exposed bullying in all forms...teachers included. Teachers and school "officials"...shame on you. The girl deserves an A

Elizabeth S.
Elizabeth Fuller5 years ago

This wonderful bright and promising young woman has great talent. The video was very well done with a strong message...not only did the message get across, but it also exposed bullying in all forms...teachers included. Teachers and school "officials"...shame on you. The girl deserves an A

Robin M.
Robin M5 years ago

You go girl!

Tracy B.
Tracy B5 years ago

High school - A place where intelligent, good-hearted kids are supported and nurtured....NOT! LOL This story angers me so much. Hateful bullies often get away with tormenting kids or only get a slap on the wrist. Try to prevent other kids from being bullied, potentially to the point that they commit suicide? Can't have that! The school needs to monitor your online activities and, ironically, bully you over a fictional character whom you invented's facebook page and suspend you.

Lynne W.
Lynne Walker5 years ago

A perfect example of why high school seems like such a waste of time for the brightest kids. Project sounds brilliant. If we fight bullies in high school maybe they won't grow up to be still be bullies when they're working as managers and business execs! Spielberg, watch out! Girl has talent!

Sara Priscila
Sara Priscila5 years ago

How can this even be possible? How ironic...

Kari Couch
Kari Couch5 years ago

I am very saddend by the youtube video, I did cry, I have a 12 year old daughter that was, and is still being bullied in school, and and home, at home, its gotton to where even the adults over power me, with their bulling. It starts at home. How do you fix it than. Can't report it to the police, it becomes snitching, gangs are involved than what? So, the daughter starts sticking up for herself, and gets suspended from school, goes to court, fines, all that, and yet she's still being bullied by the same people kids, adults, So now people we get kicked off facebook??? Ok someone maybe someone can answer my 12 year old in colorado.

Michael M.
Mike McGowan5 years ago

Ironic how pathetically the school officials are bullying this student who is just trying to get a message across that bulling is wrong and the potential harm that can result is present. Well in this case I truly hope the end results are as they always should be- The BULLIES are punished and to be fired