So, it is all over the news. A bunch of girls beat up 16 year old Tori Lindsay in Florida, and then posted the video on YouTube. The kids wanted to be famous, or so it seems, or wanted to settle some kind of score.
Now everyone cried foul and says "It is the internet's fault!"
Let's examine this story. First, we have Tori. Tori used her MySpace account to get in a cyber scuttle over something or other with her friends. So, they pass virtual notes and meet. In the olden days, we would have passed a piece of paper saying "meet me at the school yard at 3:15" and everyone would chant FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! But, some wise person, usually the principle, would come, take everyone away, call the parents, and suspend the kids. But, in some cases, it was one kid on 50 in the school yard.
So, this isn't really a new situation. What makes this different is that it is taped. And it isn't taped by some innocent bystander shooting footage of rare Floridian birds; it is the attackers documenting their "victory" by sharing a camera and laughing as the girl is beaten down.
Now, I don't give one crap about the use of MySpace here. This could have happened on paper and in any school in the nation. It doesn't matter that these girls appear to be from the "backwoods" as rich kids can get in the same kind of scuffles.
I am entirely tempted to place some of the blame on the parents. One mother says Tori is to blame and a gaggle of others said, "no no, these are trumped up charges; my Susie is a good little psycho path." I mean, really. No kid, no matter how bad, deserves to be beat down by a gang of her peers. And no parent should justify it. Period. And, what are the parents teaching these kids? Ah, yes, don't take responsibility for your actions; it is always someone else's fault.
How about this...
Let's imagine these are teenagers who have done something REALLY bad and stupid. Let's coddle them and say, oooooh, you poor thing, you are from a lower middle class family, and you have had no upbringing, and, oh my, you poor little thing...all that violence on TV has made you loony, and Myspace is Satan, and YouTube is its bride, and omg if we get rid of that, all of our problems as a society will dissipate!
Let's image that these are teenagers who have done something really bad and stupid. Let's make them apologize to Victoria. Let's make them work at breaking rocks at half of minimum wage until they pay every cent of her medical bills. While they are doing that, lets require them to wear house arrest belts, eliminate their use of TV/Video/Games/Music/Internet. Let's force them to be homeschooled by visiting teachers that they have to pay (with money from rock chopping), and let's make them meet twice weekly with a therapist and an anger management counselor.
Let's do this for one solid year. This way, we can teach them that being part of society, a civilized one, requires that you act and behave in a way that is appropriate. Let's demonstrate that attending school, visiting friends, and using the phone are privileges in civilized society. But, most of all, let's demonstrate that we believe that people can change and rehabilitate with correct instruction.
Ah, but you see...in order for any of that to work...the parents have to help be an advocate for change, and, well, these parents aren't up to that challenge.