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Chris James

The horror of suicide

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How cruel is the world of teenage life? The senseless pressure of peer groups should never have touched this young man in such a cruel and meaningless way because, of course, he was doing what all teenage boys do.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-bathroom-video-bullying-suicide-20140714-story.html

The school's reaction to this death is beyond the pale. Here we had a boy who performed well in school, was part of the sports culture, and even a Boy Scout. But was it the activity he assumed was private that pushed him over the edge?

If the school system in San Diego will not prosecute their students for bullying then how about production of child pornography? Isn't making a video of an underage boy masturbating and then posting it online considered production of porn? The boy, and I assume it was a boy because they were in the men's room, must be considered a purveyor of smut, a pornographer. If he had done the same thing to an underage girl he'd be in chains right now.

The law considers cause and effect in judgment so if making a video image of Matthew masturbating leads to his death I think the boy behind the camera deserves years in prison. Something has to stop this stupidity, doesn't it?

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Chris, I have to disagree with you, the boy behind the camera, or more likely the smartphone, does not deserve years in prison, what he does deserve is some support and counseling and guidance to see where his actions have led. Like most young people he probably had no idea what his actions would result in and in probably somewhat in shock now. We need to be able to get young people to understand that posting anything and everything to the net is not a good idea, in fact in most cases it is a bad idea.

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I must respectfully disagree, Nigel. Personally, I have no confidence in our systems of counseling, support, and guidance any longer. I believe that our policy of treating children as ignorant larvae who must be protected from themselves because they 'don't know what they're doing' is leading us to create more and more of these bullies because they know that any official retribution will be minor. Counseling, support, and guidance is tantamount to slapping wrists. What about teaching our children about consequences? How can this boy not know that posting something that is sexually explicit involving a minor on a public forum is supposed to be illegal? If an adult had done such a thing, we'd call it child pornography, and they'd already be in jail awaiting arraignment, and we'd all be sitting here in our outrage spouting about the horrible consequences that should befall the perpetrator. Why should it be called by a lesser name if a teenager does it? We do ourselves no favors by continuing to coddle our youth. We pass more and more laws that seriously penalize any adult who abuses a child, physically or emotionally. We prosecute those instances most vigorously and publicly. Our societies scream for harsher penalties. And yet, when a teenager is guilty of the same actions, all we can do is say 'Oh, you poor, misguided thing'.

Well, I'm sorry, but I'm on the side of penalties and consequences, not slapping wrists.

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Did this school system have anti-bullying rules? They stated for publication that the care of their students came first. That would sound like a school system with anti-bullying rules.

So why, over a two week period, if this is kid constantly bullied, and administrators and teachers knew about it, was nothing done? How does an entire student body know about what's going on and no one reports it to school officials? And if it was reported, why was nothing done? How can there be thousands of kids seeing what was happening and not one student stepped up to help this boy?

I think this entire school needs to be put in its auditorium and this be discussed to the point everyone there knows that each one of them is responsible for this. Every one of them. Punishments will come from the legal system, but they won't be extensive enough. Every person in that school has to feel shame. Everyone there has to understand just how terrible this was, and how they didn't do their part to stop it.

C

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Addym, the one thing you do not say is 'you poor misguided thing'. The important thing is the element of guidance, which is sadly lacking in a lot of Anglo/American social service scenarios that I have seen.

You have to show them that their actions were wrong and that they have caused harm, you have to get them to accept that they have caused harm and take responsibility for that harm. At the same time you have to give the the means and support necessary for them to cope with the consequences of their actions. You need to challenge them and make them deal with their actions. What you do not do is dump them in a prison with a lot of similar minded people who will support and reinforce their perception of their actions.

I have seen both approaches in action and can say that those who have gone through a programme of strict supervision with its support and guidance certainly had a tougher time than those in prison and they had a far lower re-offending work. It is also cost effective. The cost of keeping a young offender is prison is about £50K per year, it is actually cheaper to send a kid to Eton than to some young offender establishments. The cost of a strict supervision and support programme is about £15K a year. Over 80% of those who go to a young offender facility end up re-offending within three years of release, the figure for those who go through a strict supervision and support programme is under 30%.

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Human obsession with all matters sexual can manifest itself in many different ways. In this case there is nothing more obvious than the societal values imposed on all the participants. However, not all the participants are at first obvious.

There is a temptation to isolate this incident from the underlying causes of the resulting tragedy. This isolation is often used as a way to overlook the more deep-seated problems in a society, or culture.

No amount of anti-bullying rules can fully protect anyone from the ingrained attitudes that sexual activity isn't something that attracts the interest, to put it politely, of other people. More than that interest however, are the cultural customs which make light of those sexual activities, as well as those which impose a heavy burden on the subjects. In this case we have both, and both result in tragedy.

Jocular fun in filming an act of another person's masturbation should have been recognised as an invasion of privacy and therefore should not have been done.

The other absolutely tragic event of the suicide, comes as a result of the filming being made public. It is however, derived from the regard for any sexual activity as being wrong, or in religious parlance, a sin.

Both of these events, the filming and the suicide are the result of the totally unnecessary imposition that sexual activity is wrong, sinful, or unacceptable, or in the case of the filming, somehow funny in a school boy kind of a way.

It is important to differentiate the resulting act of bullying via the public distribution of the film, from the filming itself. Admittedly neither should have taken place, but the accomplices of the filming and its distribution must all be sited as contributing to the bullying which resulted in the tragic suicide.

As in the Tyler Clementi case, if the sexual act was not stigmatised, as it is in society, then the victims' reaction to the filming may have been less tragic. It still amounts to bullying. In the Clementi case the perpetrators were old enough to have known better, but their immaturity was born of the same schoolboy obsession with the sexual act as a source of bemusement. A bemusement that exists because of the cultural denial of the natural nature of sexual activity.

Nigel is correct in his statements about offending rates being influenced by the nature of the help and support given to these people. It is also important to emphasise that the call to punish is met by the offenders being made aware of the horror they have inflicted on their victim. Indeed care must be taken not to entice them to commit suicide through their recognition of the horror to which they have contributed. They will have to live with the knowledge of what they have caused, and they will be far tougher on themselves than any standard imprisonment would inflict.

Just as they would benefit from learning how to cope with the result of their bullying, then so to, will we all benefit in our societies by adopting a more rational attitude to nurturing and attaining the maturity of our sexual attitudes and respect for those activities by others. Removing the idea of sex as a sin is a first requirement; we have no need to feel guilty or ashamed about the pleasures we give ourselves or give to others who consent to our participation in such pleasures.

I have tried to show here that there are two problems. One with the case before us; of the horror of yet another tragic suicide by a young person, and that the real causes of such a suicide stems from irrational denial of victimless sexual activity as a means of expressing our need for each other's consensual love and understanding. To this end we must stop regarding sex as a religious sin, and an unspoken source of human pleasure. We hide sex from kids because we think they shouldn't know about it until they mature, but what hope do they have of sexual maturity if it is suddenly sprung upon them at puberty as a forbidden fun never to be touched, or spoken about.

Our ancestors' sexual activities in caves and trees were hardly hidden from their kids; indeed they learned at an early age about sex and probably wondered about their parents' humping, until suddenly, one morning the answer came to them, or all over them, or each other. Their mistake was in thinking that it should be hidden and thereby become the source of guilt and ridicule in subsequent societies.

Polite societies may not talk about sex, but neither do they deny its pleasures, and the pleasures of sophisticated, humorous discussion on such matters of joy and delight.

What we do need to talk about is why bullying is an acceptable avocation when in fact it is a training ground for our sociopathic managers and jailers, which of course is why authoritarian prisons and schools do not help the situation either now or in the future.

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Addym, the one thing you do not say is 'you poor misguided thing'. The important thing is the element of guidance, which is sadly lacking in a lot of Anglo/American social service scenarios that I have seen.

I have seen both approaches in action and can say that those who have gone through a programme of strict supervision with its support and guidance certainly had a tougher time than those in prison and they had a far lower re-offending work. It is also cost effective. The cost of keeping a young offender is prison is about £50K per year, it is actually cheaper to send a kid to Eton than to some young offender establishments. The cost of a strict supervision and support programme is about £15K a year. Over 80% of those who go to a young offender facility end up re-offending within three years of release, the figure for those who go through a strict supervision and support programme is under 30%.

I can't argue with your figures, or your assertion that sending them to a prison environment isn't the best option. Unfortunately, I can't argue effectively for or against your suggestion of sending them to this Eton place. I googled it, and all I got was hits about a college. I took a look and it seems like a fine institution of learning, but I hardly see how it applies to this situation. Maybe I didn't look deep enough.

Perhaps in this country, a good military school would be an option. But honestly, I'm not certain you can use the terms 'good' and 'military school' in the same sentence. I believe in most cases, the terms are mutually exclusive. Perhaps the UK has a better system of counseling and support for instances like this. In this country, our counseling and supports often are associated with religious organizations. And those that aren't are usually hamstrung by the restrictions that those same religious organizations have gotten packed into the laws. In short, they are, by and large, namby-pamby.

Let me ask everyone this:

Most of us are old enough that we grew up in a much different environment than today's youth. When we did something that was heinous and cruel, what consequences were meted out to us? Did those consequences for our actions take weeks and months to happen? How were those consequences wrong? because we are being told that they were by how we treat the youth of today.

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Addym, he was using Eton, a very expensive private school in London, as an example of how costly it is to incarcerate teens. Not as an alternative place to incarcerate them.

Yes, we do live in a more permissive age now. Yes, kids are coddled more than when we were their age. Yes, the results of this can be disastrous. But do we have more bad kids now than then? Different kids, yes. Bad? I doubt it.

Harsh discipline caused a lot of kids to rebel. It was never proven to be an effective method of child rearing. Neither has permissiveness, letting kids do what they want and complimenting them on their imaginations.

The best methods for raising good kids are having two adults in the home who show them they love them, having both adults pay attention and talk to the kids all the time, setting rules and boundaries and using consistent rather than corporal punishment if the rules are broken. Then keep the kids busy with the proper sort of activities: school work, athletics, arts including music, volunteering, whatever the kid likes and becomes good at, and if possible have the adults involved in some of those activities as well. And then talk some more. Kids adapt the ethos of the family, and especially so when they're loved.

Even this isn't going to work for all kids. But it will for most, and today it often isn't done because of the fact our economy almost demands that both parents work. That doesn't leave a lot of time and energy to be spent on kids. Still, some are able to do it, and for the most part, those kids turn out fine.

C

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I think the lawsuit is misplaced. The parents should have realized the seriousness of the problem and just moved him to another school. Some things, your life isn't going to recover from, and an intimate video like that is one of them.

Here's another photo of the kid and another story:

matthew-Burdette-400x225.jpg

Boy Scout Caught On Embarrassing Video At School Commits Suicide

July 14, 2014

THECOUNT.COM

A 14-year-old Boy Scout from San Diego committed suicide after a video of him pleasuring himself in a school bathroom surfaced and went viral.

The teen’s parents, Timothy and Barbara Burdette, filed a $1 million claim against the San Diego Unified School District after they say a teacher kicked the boy out of class for eating sunflower seeds, causing the displaced teen to seek refuge in a campus bathroom.

The school district rejected the Burdettes’ claim, giving the family six months to file a lawsuit, according to U-T San Diego and the Los Angeles Times.

“From the moment the video was posted, Matthew was mercilessly bullied, harassed and teased by students who had seen the video. This continued for the next two weeks,” the claim said.

The parents said officials with the San Diego Unified School District were aware of the video and the bullying.

Two weeks after the video went public, on Nov. 29, Matthew committed suicide. His family said he left a note saying he could not “handle school” and had “no friends.”

“Matthew took his life as a result of the embarrassment and humiliation caused by bullying related to the video and its distribution,” the claim said.

http://thecount.com/2014/07/14/matthew-burdette-suicide-2/#more-166798

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I'm very sad that this happened, but from my point of view the kid started this in the first place. There's no way to tell people not to watch the video once it's been posted, and unfortunately, you can't unsee it once it's in your head. The kid's life at that school was ruined. I think the parents should've home-schooled him for the rest of the term, then moved at some point and started over in another city, or just sent the kid to private school. But pushing him back into that hell-hole was not the right idea.

The problem with the lawsuit is that the kid was ultimately responsible for starting this. This is not a case of a kid getting beaten up every day; this was an athletic, popular kid who made a terrible mistake in judgement. I would have no problem with his parents filing a wrongful death and harassment lawsuit against the parents of the kid who actually posted the video, but I'm not sure how the school can get involved.

It's a terrible, terrible story and a sad waste of a human life, but the kid's family has to accept their responsibility for his lapse in judgement. Let's flip the situation around: if any of us this did this kind of behavior at a workplace bathroom, and somebody posted it to YouTube, who's fault is it? Could you sue the business? Maybe, but I don't think you could win.

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I think the lawsuit is misplaced. The parents should have realized the seriousness of the problem and just moved him to another school. Some things, your life isn't going to recover from, and an intimate video like that is one of them.

Here's another photo of the kid and another story:

matthew-Burdette-400x225.jpg

Boy Scout Caught On Embarrassing Video At School Commits Suicide

July 14, 2014

THECOUNT.COM

A 14-year-old Boy Scout from San Diego committed suicide after a video of him pleasuring himself in a school bathroom surfaced and went viral.

The teen’s parents, Timothy and Barbara Burdette, filed a $1 million claim against the San Diego Unified School District after they say a teacher kicked the boy out of class for eating sunflower seeds, causing the displaced teen to seek refuge in a campus bathroom.

The school district rejected the Burdettes’ claim, giving the family six months to file a lawsuit, according to U-T San Diego and the Los Angeles Times.

“From the moment the video was posted, Matthew was mercilessly bullied, harassed and teased by students who had seen the video. This continued for the next two weeks,” the claim said.

The parents said officials with the San Diego Unified School District were aware of the video and the bullying.

Two weeks after the video went public, on Nov. 29, Matthew committed suicide. His family said he left a note saying he could not “handle school” and had “no friends.”

“Matthew took his life as a result of the embarrassment and humiliation caused by bullying related to the video and its distribution,” the claim said.

http://thecount.com/2014/07/14/matthew-burdette-suicide-2/#more-166798

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I'm very sad that this happened, but from my point of view the kid started this in the first place. There's no way to tell people not to watch the video once it's been posted, and unfortunately, you can't unsee it once it's in your head. The kid's life at that school was ruined. I think the parents should've home-schooled him for the rest of the term, then moved at some point and started over in another city, or just sent the kid to private school. But pushing him back into that hell-hole was not the right idea.

The problem with the lawsuit is that the kid was ultimately responsible for starting this. This is not a case of a kid getting beaten up every day; this was an athletic, popular kid who made a terrible mistake in judgement. I would have no problem with his parents filing a wrongful death and harassment lawsuit against the parents of the kid who actually posted the video, but I'm not sure how the school can get involved.

It's a terrible, terrible story and a sad waste of a human life, but the kid's family has to accept their responsibility for his lapse in judgement. Let's flip the situation around: if any of this did this kind of behavior at a workplace bathroom, and somebody posted it to YouTube, who's fault is it? Could you sue the business? Maybe, but I don't think you could win.

Okay, Pecman, that is out of line, blaming the boy for his woes. That is completely cruel and totally unjustified.

We still know very little about the circumstances, but if the story about the boy being sent out of the classroom for eating sunflower seeds is true, then he was completely justified in believing he would be alone while he sought solace in the boy's room. So let's assume for the sake of argument that it's true, what was wrong with that, and what the fuck was this other boy doing in there instead of being in class? So much we could conjecture about. What right did the other boy have in capturing the event on video?

But to blame the boy who killed himself as the author of all his woes and claim that he is to blame for the situation is insensitive. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that the statement is offensive in the extreme.

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Okay, Pecman, that is out of line, blaming the boy for his woes. That is completely cruel and totally unjustified.

Blame was not the word I used; the word I did use was responsibility. Nobody deserves to be bullied and humiliated, but the kid started it himself by behaving badly in a bathroom. Once you start the ball rolling (so to speak), you have to accept the consequences, no matter how awful they are.

I would have a completely different opinion if the kid had been at home and a peeping Tom spied on him from a window, or tapped into a web camera, or something like that. Totally different thing, and that would be a serious invasion of privacy.

But playing with yourself at school is gonna be risky no matter what. This was a very, very stupid lapse in judgement. How would you have the school solve the problem? Make an announcement over the intercom that says, "we will not allow students to laugh at other students who they've seen in videos pleasuring themselves on the internet." No matter what you do, people are gonna be snickering at you for the rest of your life, because it was a terrible, terrible mistake.

I say, change your name and move. Or just be home-schooled for the next year or so. By the time you're 18, nobody will care and you can go to college out of state. (Unless, of course, somebody follows you to Facebook and posts the video there, which is always the possibility.) If anything, I think the parents used very bad judgement in sending the poor kid back to school to face the taunts and humiliation of the other students.

I think it's one thing if you're older and have a sleazy lifestyle -- I'm thinking of the Khardassians or Lindsay Lohan or any number of celebrities who've had naked sex videos posted to the internet -- you can survive an incident like this if you're famous and have a lot of money. Heck, sleazy pseudo-celebrities like this seem to enhance their reputations by scandals like this. (Who can forget the Rob Lowe nude sex video from the 1980s, which I think was the first one to surface?)

But it's disastrous for a young kid. This is a very, very sad story. I'm reminded of the Tyler Clementi story, where the Rutgers freshman was embarrassed by his roommate, who posted webcam videos of the boy having sexy conversations with boyfriends on the net. Clementi was so mortified (particularly by being publicly outted), he jumped off a bridge. The family sued the jerk responsible for posting the videos, and the very wealthy kid's family fought it. The jerk was found guilty but only got a 30-day jail sentence, a $10,000 fine, and several hundred hours of probation. I would've given him at least 6 months and a $50,000 fine, but that's me.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Tyler_Clementi

I think there are similar elements here, where a cruel thug decided to hurt somebody else for their private sexual life. They're responsible for making somebody miserable. On the other hand, masturbating in a public school restroom kind of crosses the line, though it doesn't forgive the invasion of privacy. My partner the lawyer says the family is suing the school because of Deep Pockets: go after whoever has the most money. But I don't think the school is responsible in this case, and I also don't think the family can win the case.

If I had Lotto money, I'd post a $100,000 reward for the a-hole who posted that video, then throw him in Guantanamo or something until he learned his lesson. Kids are so cruel and vicious nowadays, not giving a thought to how much they can ruin somebody's lofe with one click of the mouse.

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If anything, I think the parents used very bad judgement in sending the poor kid back to school to face the taunts and humiliation of the other students.

My read of the story is that the parents didn't know. They only found out when they read the suicide note.

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That's horrible, especially when you consider this poor kid endured two weeks of utter hell going to school every day.

I was just telling a friend of mine the other day I was always too embarrassed to tell my parents about how badly I was bullied in school back in the 1960s, but it was nothing like this. I'd get slammed into a locker or books knocked out of my hands... nothing more serious than that. Two or three bloody noses, but we're talking over a 5-6 year period. In general, I avoided trouble or just was able to talk my way out of it. I think what I thought then was, "there's nothing my parents can do to help, I just have to suck it up and work it out on my own, and eventually this problem will go away."

In the case of the San Diego kid, I think he was just so horribly embarrassed that if he admitted to his parents what the video was about, that would be almost as horrible as enduring the hoots and ridicule at school. That's really awful.

I think along with the Zero Tolerance Bullying policy they have to establish at schools, they have to encourage kids to seek out help, confide in their parents, or at least find an interested third party like a school counselor. Even something as embarrassing as this, they gotta get some help.

On the other hand: two of my novels have featured young teenagers who got into significant trouble and stoically refused to tell anybody about it, which is the way I saw the characters. One of the stories took place in 1968-1969 (and concerned a secret gay affair and an attempted rape); the other took place around 2004 (and had a blackmail case over sexual identity). If I were to write about today, I think I'd take a different tactic. But I understand why kids feel so lost and unable to find any help.

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Expecting school boys to not masturbate in the school restroom is somewhat naïve; to condemn the boy for it, seems prudish to me.

It's over fifty years ago now, but at one local high school the principal did in fact make an announcement to 800 boys at his school, telling them when boys used their mouths on each other, he considered it in very bad taste. He was not trying to be funny and couldn't understand why the 800 were rolling on the ground laughing. When the reason for the laughter was explained to him he hurriedly left the assembly with a very red face.

I stand by my assertion that authoritarian regulation of sexual morality inhibits a natural healthy attitude to sexual activity. This is especially so when it is accompanied by quaint ideas of social customs of what is proper for Queen Victoria's amusement.

More seriously, unless we are prepared to examine and expose the social and cultural customs and religious restrictions which contribute to the breeding of psychopathic bullying, then we are not going to stop the resulting tragedies.

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I haven't seen the video that so embarrassed the poor boy, but reading the piece I rather assumed he was in a lavatory cubicle, and that the cruel child who made the video did so either over or under the partition wall.

Pecman reckons he made a serious lapse of judgement to have a wank at school, but my own memory of schooldays informs me that I did so most days. Sometimes several times. Of course in my case it was a little different because I was at a boarding school so I didn't get to go home at the end of the day and do it there, but I'm not sure if my teenaged hormones would have been that patient. I always made use of a lavatory cubicle with a lockable door and considered myself to be in private. But if you're in the cubicle next to someone who's wanking there's generally some clue if only the shadow projected into your space. In such precarious environments do our children live.

The video poster did wrong but may not have realised the enormity of his crime. The school did very wrong by not having bullying under control. The parents were in the dark, but maybe they share a portion of the blame for failing to keep useful lines of communication open with their son (although they wouldn't be the only parents in that situation). I don't feel willing to lay blame on the victim for doing what every other boy does, though.

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Blame was not the word I used; the word I did use was responsibility. Nobody deserves to be bullied and humiliated, but the kid started it himself by behaving badly in a bathroom. Once you start the ball rolling (so to speak), you have to accept the consequences, no matter how awful they are.

I would have a completely different opinion if the kid had been at home and a peeping Tom spied on him from a window, or tapped into a web camera, or something like that. Totally different thing, and that would be a serious invasion of privacy.

I beg to differ, and I'm nearer to the age of these kids to have, what I think, is a better understanding of the mob mentality at middle and high schools. Let's say this kid had diarrhea and went into a stall in the bathroom, closed the door, and latched it so it was locked. Then another kid comes into the bathroom, hears the noises from the closed stall, and take a video of it and posts it on the internet. That kid would be as harrassed and bullied as Matthew was. Would he be responsible for the bullying?

Whatever one does in a stall in a bathroom in middle school and high school is private. The stalls have doors that can be closed and locked. Matthew isn't the first high school student to masterbate in a stall. There's no rule that he couldn't do that in the stall. What he did was private, and by closing and locking the door he had the expectation of privacy, just like a kid with heavy-duty diarrhea.

The perpretrator, the kid who shot the video, is responsible for what he did. Don't presume that because he was 16 years old that he gets a free pass on this. He decided to take the video. Then he showed it to other kids. Then he posted it online. At that point he knew exactly what he was doing.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Let's talk about consequences. It seems all agree that actions on both sides of this issue cross a boundary. Masturbating in toilet stalls is probably quite common and perhaps the boy who made the video has done so himself. The attitude of mocking someone by posting the video is anti-social behavior which also seems quite common.

Matthew's unfortunate parents have had to resort to a lawsuit when it should be apparent that there are several perpetrators in this case. The boy who made the video, the websites that accepted them for posting and any other kid who used the media for sharing this illegal material. The cost to this family is more than the death of their son, it is a real cost in legal fees and continued anguish over such a stupid and careless incident. And that brings me to this story:

http://news.yahoo.com/rock-dropped-car-critically-injures-ohio-woman-214915589.html

The consequences of this incident perpetrated by ignorance and perhaps boredom will have a real cost in medical bills and mental anguish. How should this be adjudicated do you think?

The brothers, and perhaps a few friends, are just lucky no one was killed. Dropping a heavy rock on a speeding car might seem like fun, unless it happened to them. These were not young children but near adults, what were they thinking? Criminal proceedings are sure to be followed by a lawsuit for damages in the millions, something neither these boys nor their parents can afford to pay. How does the aggrieved family receive justice?

In this case and in that of Matthew we have juveniles with their heads screwed on backwards who do not think through the penalty phase of their actions. A boy with a camera caused a suicide through social media and that cannot be forgiven. Several idiots with rocks have damaged a woman so severely that she will certainly lose her important career as a educator, and that cannot be forgiven.

Things like this happen every day across the country and I guess we are just lucky it doesn't happen to us. It is easy to point at juveniles who bust down a door and invade a home with guns drawn just to steal a few dollars to support a drug habit and say these fools are ripe for a prison cell. I don't think anyone would disagree even if you believe them to be the victims of poor parenting and abuse. We don't pet rabid dogs and feed them kibble.

Societal norms have deteriorated when kids see it as fun to abuse their peers on social media or drop rocks from an overpass. It is all such a vague form of entertainment, flirting with disaster on the way to the jailhouse door. Hundreds of years ago they used to put people like this in stocks on the public square with a sign around their necks proclaiming the crime. Was that such a bad idea?

I look forward to seeing how our dysfunctional justice system deals with these two crimes, and yes, that would be my idea of fun.

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Things like this happen every day across the country and I guess we are just lucky it doesn't happen to us. It is easy to point at juveniles who bust down a door and invade a home with guns drawn just to steal a few dollars to support a drug habit and say these fools are ripe for a prison cell. I don't think anyone would disagree even if you believe them to be the victims of poor parenting and abuse. We don't pet rabid dogs and feed them kibble.

Societal norms have deteriorated when kids see it as fun to abuse their peers on social media or drop rocks from an overpass. It is all such a vague form of entertainment, flirting with disaster on the way to the jailhouse door. Hundreds of years ago they used to put people like this in stocks on the public square with a sign around their necks proclaiming the crime. Was that such a bad idea?

I look forward to seeing how our dysfunctional justice system deals with these two crimes, and yes, that would be my idea of fun.

Here, here!

Personally, I'm offended by the fact that our societies, in their infinite wisdom, have determined that a crime committed by a juvenile is not the same as a crime committed by an adult (except in cases of capital murder). We see it all the time in television and movie, a child when caught in some criminal act spouts off that it's no big deal, that they are a juvenile and will be back on the streets in no time. And if you think that's simple Hollywood hype, think again. That attitude is prevalent out there.

A crime is a crime. So long as society teaches our children that their crimes are more socially acceptable (yes, I know, that's an extreme simplification, but it's still essentially true) then we will continue to have incidents such as we've been discussing here.

Now, where'd I store that set of stocks I keep for special occasions.

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Rightly or wrongly, a child is deemed not to have a full understanding of the implications of any illegal action. That's the simple bit. The tricky part is getting over to said child the necessary education to cover the issue as well as the deterrent of punishment.

Sometimes it's caused by faulty upbringing, bad friends, and sometimes there is no discernible cause. Both the deciding and imposition of suitable regimes and punishments is not a task I'd like to have.

Anyone who has had a discussion with a group of teenage boys will know they frequently exhibit what I call group unintelligence. A classic example was when I gave three scouts a lift. I might have been transporting three monkeys at first. Dropped one at their home and it was more like two children, dropped another, and had a quite adult conversation with the remaining lad when there was no group effect.

I am aware there are child protection issues here, I was and still am friends with the last boy's parents and chose the order of dispatch on that basis.

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Whatever one does in a stall in a bathroom in middle school and high school is private. The stalls have doors that can be closed and locked. Matthew isn't the first high school student to masterbate in a stall. There's no rule that he couldn't do that in the stall. What he did was private, and by closing and locking the door he had the expectation of privacy, just like a kid with heavy-duty diarrhea.

My partner the attorney says no: this was in a public place (or at least, a building paid for with public taxpayer money), so it's not considered a private place, like a residence or a car or apartment or something like that. I agree, it's splitting hairs, but I'd guarantee there are laws against wanking in a public restroom -- even though it happens all the time.

I think we have several bad situations going on here: the wanking kid, the kid with the camera, the person who shared the videos, the kids who taunted the first kid, and school authorities who failed to realize the severity of the bullying. Who do you deal with first? I'd say the kid shooting the video was the worst perpetrator, but if the original kid hadn't played with himself, there wouldn't be much to shoot in the stall.

The perpretrator, the kid who shot the video, is responsible for what he did. Don't presume that because he was 16 years old that he gets a free pass on this. He decided to take the video. Then he showed it to other kids. Then he posted it online. At that point he knew exactly what he was doing.

I'd have to know more about the case to understand why the kid with the camera did it, if he understood the damage he wrought, and if he has any sorrow at all for his actions. None of the published stories have any details about the kid with the camera.

Again, look at the story on Tyler Clementi, which is a similar situation. The difference there is that he was in private, he was on his own computer trying to have a conversation in his dorm room, and a nasty roommate shot a video of him talking about a gay affair. That's a real invasion of privacy... and yet the perpetrator there got a slap on the wrist. In this case, I think Clementi is absolutely innocent and had no responsibility because he shouldn't have to worry about losing his privacy once his dorm door is shut. (A dorm room he's paying for, BTW.)

But in a public restroom... you gotta behave. I'm very sorry that this happened to the original kid, and I can only imagine the anguish he went through in the two weeks before he decided to kill himself. This kind of thing happened not long ago to that ESPN reporter, Erin Andrews, when a nutball hid a camera in the vent of her hotel room, captured nude images of her, then posted those to the internet, which were highly embarrassing. Again, the point there was: this was a private hotel room she paid for. All she did was take her clothes off and take a shower. It's a horrific invasion of privacy. I wish there were greater laws against this kind of thing, which is becoming more rampant as cameras get smaller & cheaper, and users get stupider and have very low morale standards. And I hope the parents of the dead kid can go after the parents of the kid with the camera for a wrongful death lawsuit, which I think could make a valid legal argument.

But suing the school sounds specious to me. If even the kid's own parents didn't notice anything was wrong with him in the 2 weeks prior to his death, how could the school authorities? I've seen some pretty awful things happen to people at schools in my time, and in some cases, the teachers did little or nothing to stop it, and in some cases, the teachers were part of it. Nobody died, nobody committed suicide, but bullying happens on many levels, and not all of it can be stopped with litigation. We need people to have more compassion and a better sense of judgement, and that's very, very hard to force people to have.

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I would like to hear from those of us who have kids in their household comment on this topic. It is my opinion/observation that teens today live in a universe of their own making, and neither parents, teachers, nor other adults have a clue as to what really goes on there.

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I don't have kids in my household, but think what James is saying is now and has been forever true. My parents had no idea what my life was like outside the home. They only know what you tell them, and so embarrassing things, sexual things, immoral things, cruel things, all sorts of things never get mentioned. Technology has allowed kids to live much differently now than when we were young, but the human psyche isn't that much different. Kids still don't think of consequences of their acts. Kids are still egocentric. Kids are still pack animals, and try to secure the approbation of the herd.

I don't agree with Pec that the school shouldn't be held responsible, if not for the boy's death, then at least for how it handled the situation leading up to it. The reports clearly state that the teachers and administration knew what had happened and knew the kid was being bullied because of it. They didn't stop it, and they didn't inform the parents of the situation. They didn't call the kid in and talk to him to see what his state of mind was. They didn't offer him help. They didn't do any of the things that might have prevented the tragedy that occurred. Kids don't think ahead to what might ensue; responsible school officials must.

The fact that the parents hadn't noticed the emotional decline the kid was having doesn't in any way mitigate the school's irresponsibility, their egregious lack responsibility. Some parents are not that much in tune with their kids, and some kids hide everything they can from their parents as a default position. This kid probably was afraid of what his parents would feel and say if they'd known what he had done. Not telling them what he was going through, hiding his emotional state, would have been part of hiding the fact of what he'd done and so is very reasonable. How many boys hide the fact they masturbate at all from their parents, and would be appalled to have to discuss it with them? Uh, maybe 98%?

No, I think the school screwed up royally. They were the adults and they had an obligation to step in. They failed their responsibility, and they failed the boy.

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Suicide is a very terrible thing. The fact that he had no hope of things getting better. That even moving to different school wouldn't.

In the majority of schools in England, we have extremely strict rules on bullying. It is even part of law, schools are required to prevent it. When I was at secondary school, a pupil was expelled for homophobic bullying against an overly camp member of my year.

At least in my old school, tutors are required to look out for pupils. I they suspected any risk of suicide or harm to the pupil, they are obligated by law to reported.

From what I have read in AD stories, and what I have gathered from the news, it seems parts of america are extremely strict and conservative, promoting the bad side of Christianity. Banning 'indecent' books and withholding education. Allowing students to be driven to suicide. I imagine the school is happy, another 'sinner' gone from the world. Don't dispense your seeds on the ground and all that.

I imagine is quite a biased view, and it isn't the case in more culturally advanced states such as California. Then again, I can't predict the ethics of a country that murders its citizens

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