A Joke? Picture portraying bullying incident sparks concern, outcry
February 8, 2013 5 Comments
A picture taken at Columbia High School in Nampa has sparked some well deserved controversy.
The photo, depicting three teens pulling the hair of a bound and gagged “victim”, has received thousands of reposts on tumblr and facebook since it appeared online sometime on Wednesday or Thursday.
It’s not clear just who uploaded the photo, though a caption under the tumblr version reads in part “This a photograph taken from the teenager (shirtless guy) named Austin Schafer’s Twitter account, of a kid being tied up and beaten by upper classmen at Columbia High School in Nampa, Idaho. This is a recent photograph and one where the school’s authorities have not taken action yet. Remember this kid’s name and repost this picture. “
Nampa School District spokeswoman Allison Westfall tells KBOI-TV, “We talked to the students, the coach and the parents. It’s not hazing, it’s not bullying. It’s students having fun.”
The tumblr account that originated the photo on the social media site is no longer active. A Google search shows that Schaffer plays quarterback for Columbia High’s football team.
The Idaho Press Tribune reports that the boys in the photo are actually members of the Columbia High School wrestling team. Two of the wrestler’s in the picture are apparently brothers.
Coach Todd Cady tells the newspaper that he did not witness the incident but says he’s confident that it was simply a prank, “The picture immediately makes people worry and wonder,” Cady said. “It looks like a major hazing incident — we’re all fearful of that as parents and coaches. It was a controlled environment.”
As the picture made its way around the various social media sites, there was concern that perhaps the school was trying to cover up the incident.
While it’s not clear just where the bullying angle came in to play after the picture was uploaded, it is clear that the kind of behavior depicted in the photo really isn’t a laughing matter.
Idaho has been grappling with student bullying and harassment over the past couple of years. A bill that would have strengthened Idaho’s anti-bullying law was killed by Republican Rep. Bob Nonini, chairman of the education committee, during the last legislative session.
Currently, Idaho has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation. Studies have shown that those who have been bullied and or harassed at school can be affected by the actions well into their adult years.
According to last year’s Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey, out of 1,702 students in 48 public high schools in Idaho, 22.8 percent reported being bullied or harassed on school property.
According to a study released in 2011,”Nearly 44 percent of gay male participants said they had been bullied in the previous year, compared with 26 percent of heterosexuals who reported the same.
For girls, 40 percent of lesbians indicated they had been bullied in the past year, while just over 15 percent of heterosexuals reported such. About 35 percent of bisexual and mostly homosexual guys had been bullied and about 25 percent of their female counterparts.”
Those statistics were given a face earlier this week when 15-year-old Jadin Bell died in a Le Grande, Oregon hospital after hanging himself on a school playground.
A family spokesman says Bell was bullied at both school and on the internet because of his sexuality.