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Student Records Kids Who Bully Him, Then Gets Threatened With Wiretapping Charge 798

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-takes-real-effort-to-be-this-wrong dept.
An anonymous reader tips news of an incident in a Pennsylvania high school in which a student, Christian Stanfield, was being bullied on a regular basis. He used a tablet to make an audio recording of the bullies for the purpose of showing his mother how bad it was. She was shocked, and she called school officials to tell them what was going on. The officials brought in a police lieutenant — but not to deal with the bullies. Instead, the officer interrogated Stanfield and made him delete the recording. The officer then threatened to charge him with felony wiretapping. The charges were later reduced to disorderly conduct, and Stanfield was forced to testify before a magistrate, who found him guilty. Stanfield's mother said, "Christian's willingness to advocate in a non-violent manner should be championed as a turning point. If Mr. Milburn and the South Fayette school district really want to do the right thing, they would recognized that their zero-tolerance policies and overemphasis on academics and athletics have practically eliminated social and emotional functioning from school culture."

Update: 04/17 04:36 GMT by T : The attention this case has gotten may have something to do with the later-announced decision by the Allegheny County District Attorney's office to withdraw the charges against Stanfield.
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Student Records Kids Who Bully Him, Then Gets Threatened With Wiretapping Charge

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  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:19AM (#46765931)

    Judging by how past actions of Pennsylvania HS football players were judged, this is not surprising. Compared to letting them get away with rape, this is downright reasonable.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:20AM (#46765941)

    What did his mother expect from the school as a reaction? Siding with the victim of bullying? Seriously? Allow me to give you a brief rundown of how school deal with bullying.

    What a school wants is "peace". They want pupils to shut up and not cause a problem. Especially not a disciplinary one. So how do they deal with bullying? Well, easy: Not at all. Because it is not a school's problem. The bully has his victim, is satisfied and will not cause any other problem towards the school, its property or its faculty. The victim is being pushed and punched.

    Now when does the school run into a problem in this scenario? Right. When the victim does not want to play his role anymore. That is when the school runs into a problem. Because now they have to do something. Until that moment, there was no reason for a reaction. A pacified bully is no problem, and a victim that lets the bully kick him is none either. The very LAST thing the school wants is to be forced to take action against the bully. Because then not only does it draw attention to the bullying problem, it puts a very unhappy bully at their hands, someone who knows how to cause trouble if he wants to, who may or may not be even supported in his actions by his parents.

    The school's reaction is a logical one: The victim upset the apple cart. He created a problem for the school. What the school wants is him to shut the fuck up again and swallow the punches.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:28AM (#46765987)

    When you take a look at school shootings, I can't help but ... is it me or is it blatantly obvious to everyone what's going on? I mean, look at things.

    1. Kids shoot up schools. Why schools? Why not shopping malls before Christmas or movie theaters during blockbuster premiers? If it's body count and fame you're after, that's where you'd have to do your killing spree. Schools are rather meh for either. Not very cramped, lots of exits, before you can rack up a sensible body count most of the people already hit the exit. Now try a movie theater with 2 exits for 200+ people. Shot 10 or so and a body count of at least 50 is certain due to the stampede! So why schools?

    2. A killing spree is not targeted. That's not the case with school shootings. When you go on a killing spree, you want people dead. You don't care who gets to bite the dust, but when you look at the school shootings that is simply not the case. The shooters don't simply open the first door on their way in and clean the classroom out, then move on to the next. They usually are very selective where they go and who they shoot.

    It's not a killing spree. It's revenge. Plain and simple. That's of course nothing you can say as a politician. Because the ones guilty of the shooting are usually the ones being shot. It's kinda hard to blame teenagers who just got their head blown away and get reelected. So we need to shift the blame on movies, computer games, music, you name it. As long as kids like it and parents don't get it, it's a convenient scapegoat. And it works as such, no doubt. It won't change anything, though.

    We should make our mind up what we want. If we just want to feel good that we "done something", then we can continue as we did so far, ban various games, movies and songs and accept that we'll have a few revenge rampages a year.

    Or we finally start get our heads out of our asses and accept that we have to do something against it.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:44AM (#46766147)
    A couple of points about this. My first thought when I heard this was that Pennsylvania law on recording someone requires their consent except in certain circumstances; one of those circumstances is when a crime is being committed. I thought that was the case here, except the boy recorded others as well as those committing a crime (terroristic threats, at the least). However, there is another exception to Pennsylvania law, when one does not have an expectation of privacy. The judge ruled that the boy recorded people when they had an expectation of privacy. Since everything I have read indicates that all of the recordings occurred in the classroom, I have a serious problem with the idea that anyone in the recordings had an expectation of privacy.
    Further, the judge claimed that she was confident that if the bullying had been reported to the school, it would have been taken care of appropriately, the the school did not tolerate bullying. How the judge could reach that conclusion is a mystery to me, considering that the incident which was recorded occurred in the presence of a teacher.
  • Re:All-party state (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sasparillascott (1267058) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:52AM (#46766233)
    Here's a nice map showing which states are and aren't (by a company that sells phone recording products). Odd mix of states that are two party.

    http://www.vegress.com/index.p... [vegress.com]
  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:28AM (#46766635) Homepage

    Reminds me of a story how I read on how one girl "solved" her bullying problem, they'd raised the issue several times with the school to no effect. Dad finally has enough, teaches her to fight. She grabs the head of the lead bully and slams it on her knee, broken nose, blood everywhere. School threatens to expel her, her dad threatens to sue the shit out of them for everything she's been through. Like the good cowards they are, the school backs down and manages to convinces the bully's parents not to press charges either. She's now forever known as that crazy kid, but nobody's messing with her anymore. It's sad but school is mostly a lawless territory where violence is often the last and only means to defend yourself.

  • Re:WTF?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crakbone (860662) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:39AM (#46766771)
    From what I remember from another article (several days ago) the teen recorded the incident to convince his mom that he was being bullied ( he had told her several times but she did not believe him). He had evidently requested help from teachers as well. When his mom saw the evidence she told him to show the principal the recording. The principal then called the police without informing the mother or talking with her about the incident. She was later called in. Mind you this recording was made IN FRONT of a teacher. In a full classroom. I would think there would be no expectation of privacy in a room filled with students and a teacher. In a building with security cameras, in a state that has had schools actively monitoring the students even at home (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robbins_v._Lower_Merion_School_District).
  • by Neil Boekend (1854906) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:39AM (#46766775)

    Streisand effect.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:52AM (#46766911)

    It is a lot harder to build bombs ... Guns are a lot more ... efficient.

    It may be harder to build bombs than to grab some guns, but the guns are not more efficient. The largest school killing in US history [wikipedia.org] was done with explosives.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:59AM (#46766985) Homepage Journal

    This is why people don't like going to the authorities...

    Something is terribly broken at that school... From TFA:

    "According to Love, as the teacher is heard attempting to help her son with a math problem, a student says, “You should pull his pants down!” Another student replies, “No, man. Imagine how bad that (c**t) smells! No one wants to smell that (t**t).” As the recording continues, the teacher instructs the classroom that they may only talk if it pertains to math. Shortly thereafter, a loud noise is heard on the recording, which her son explained was a book being slammed down next to him after a student pretended to hit him in the head with it. When the teacher yells, the student exclaims, “What? I was just trying to scare him!” A group of boys are heard laughing."

    The incident happened in direct contact with one of the boy's teachers. The teacher failed to control the classroom, failed to discipline the antagonists, and apparently failed to report the incident to the administration (wonder why). The boy's only hope is to get the hell out of there, his teacher (and probably most of the administration) is disturbingly incompetent.

  • by cyberchondriac (456626) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @10:11AM (#46767153) Journal
    I think you hit the nail on the head. This bully was clearly protected. I want to see every school official who went along with this fiasco fired with extreme prejudice, and the judge should be reprimanded or even disbarred. Anyone have the name of this Pennsylvania school?
  • by nblender (741424) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @10:12AM (#46767163)

    I also was endlessly bullied durings gr 6-9 in an era where you were told "Just ignore them and they'll leave you alone" (they didn't)... When it started happening to my son, we immediately reacted and went to the principal... Her reaction? "Well, your son is rather meek and introverted. My kids were like that until I put them in Hockey and that changed their lives.. You should put your son in Hockey.". When we insisted she do something about the bullying, we were told she wasn't able to do anything unless the bully's parents agreed there was a problem (they didn't)... The most she could do was keep the kids separated. The end result was that the bully raced out during recess and started playing with my son's friends... Due to the mandatory separation rule, my son was effectively ostracized. He would try to play with other kids but the bully would just wander on over when the teachers weren't watching... So in essence, my son was punished for going to authorities.

    Eventually we shifted him out of that neighborhood school and into a charter school; where he's much happier and has boatloads of friends.

    There's a lot of lip-service being paid to 'zero tolerance'... I haven't seen any actions.

  • Re:WTF?? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Talderas (1212466) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @10:22AM (#46767281)

    The principal told the boy to delete the recording, not the officer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @10:32AM (#46767399)

    In addition to the principal's e-mail, his phone number is: 412-221-4542 extension 225.

    His bio from the website:

    Mr. Scott Milburn joined the South Fayette team in February of 2010. Prior to South Fayette, Mr. Milburn served as assistant high school principal at Bethel Park High School for three years, assistant principal, career development specialist, and teacher in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Mr. Milburn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master's Degree in Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

  • by Quirkz (1206400) <{moc.zkriuq} {ta} {ssor}> on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @10:40AM (#46767505) Homepage

    Survival of the fittest is the only rule in life.

    Don't be silly. Survival of the fittest applies to the wild. The entire *point* of culture/civilization is to blunt that harshest of rules. It doesn't always work so well, and it can easily be exploited, but the GP is entirely correct when he says that bullying should be treated as wrong and discouraged.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @10:43AM (#46767517)

    Yup I used to see bullies first hand at my school, but I was bigger then pretty much anyone. The teachers ignored bullying, they just didn't care.
    I decided to become an "anti-bully".
    I made it known that if any kid was getting bullied they could come to me and I would protect them, unlike the teachers, so I became friends with a lot of kids and we would all hang out with each other at school, protecting each other en mass. I never went out of my way beat up anyone but I stood up for myself and for the kids I was protecting, sure I got into a few altercations at the start but not much.
    Within a year bullying pretty much seemed like an all time low within the school, and some of the original bullies actually became our friends. The thing is bullies usually have deeper issues and I found they generally fell into one of three groups - 1)Anti-socials who could never make friendssince they don't fit into any of the social groups, it eats away at them so they eventually belittle other people. I generally found these the easiest to "convert" since they finally have something they always wanted: a friend 2)Parental issues, usually their parents are drunks, or pay zero attention to them. This group is harder to get into because the issues are generally so deep-rooted. But often just lending an ear and letting them vent was the biggest success. 3) Alpha males who think they have something to prove, since they were alpha males, I generally didn't bother trying to make friends out of these guys, they always turned me off anyways

  • by tompaulco (629533) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @10:58AM (#46767735) Homepage Journal
    I also received corporal punishment for finally fighting back against a bully in 9th grade. My best friend got suspended for finally fighting back.
    There is no doubt in my mind that school administrators actively protect the bully system and punish any of those who fight back against it.
  • by schlachter (862210) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:09AM (#46767889)

    can the police officer force the boy to destroy evidence?
    what would have happened if the child refused?
    is that a PA law? In some states you can record.

  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:54AM (#46768799)

    As children most cops and most judges were the bullies. For that matter, so were a lot of school administrators. They don't understand the problem, or that there even is a problem. I was suspended for finally hitting back in junior high school, and almost expelled when I did it a second time.

    Do you have data to prove that? If so share it.

    Falcon Wolf

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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