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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 killfixx (148785) * on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:13AM (#46765885) Journal

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

    Not only was his problem not taken care of, but he was actually punished for trying to protect himself non-violently!

    Fucking ignorant fucks!

    I usually don't feel this way, but as a person who was endlessly bullied, I hope they eat a bag of diseased dicks.

    Another person who will be afraid of authority.

    And, what if this kid commits a Columbine-esque revenge scenario? They'll blame it on some other bullshit, not their own lack of souls...

    FUCK!

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:28AM (#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 Thanshin (1188877)

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

        ...before the kids learn that bombs or poison are safer than guns.

        What truly scares me is the progression. Soon we'll have a Columbine-like event but with chlorine, or an infected water supply, or a home made explosive device, or some other horror.

      • by rmdingler (1955220) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:57AM (#46766297)
        Here's the thing: Everyone has been bullied at some point in their life. Not all children are prone to it, but there is always a bigger kid prone to intimidation tactics when growing up.

        Kids live by the law of the playground jungle when adult supervision and rules are absent from the equation. It is ingrained into us as some form of social stepping stone, the animal in each of us at work, attempting dominance and security for an insecure bully.

        There is a time honored civil process in which we attempt to retrain our young into civilized little pricks. Picking on the weak is wrong, and you don't get to take advantage of a fellow human because you're physically or mentally able to do so.

        Everyone is small and helpless early, and many are old and helpless late in life. These rules benefit us all, and what happened here sends precisely the wrong message.

        • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:43AM (#46767523)

          Yep, this teaches kids. "Don't trust authorities, take matters into your own hands."

          I think we know where that can escalate to.

        • by shess (31691) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:49AM (#46767611) Homepage

          Here's the thing: Everyone has been bullied at some point in their life. Not all children are prone to it, but there is always a bigger kid prone to intimidation tactics when growing up.

          Getting bullied that once, for a few minutes, is kind of different from being frightened of school itself because you keep getting slammed into lockers, etc. In one case, a thing happened to you and you move on. In the other case it becomes a formative epoch in your life which you spend decades dealing with, if you ever manage it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        1. Kids shoot up schools. Why schools?

        Because your targets are guaranteed to be unable to shoot back?

      • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:29AM (#46767369)

        I was reading my mother's Stephen King collection when I was a kid. She had probably forgotten that Rage [wikipedia.org] was in The Bachman Books. It was written years before I was born and even then my high-school years were before the Columbine / regular school shooting era.

        Even King says he is "glad it is out of print", something I just learned today. Odd, as I did not see the anti-hero as particularly inspiring. If I had been slightly more unstable, perhaps I would have thought so. It is amusing that today a kid that reads that book might be considered a deviant and locked up.

        Kids that are bullied always think of this scenario, reading about it might actually help rather than hurt. Now, writers will not touch this topic with a ten foot pole, leaving teenagers with less support. Talking is not going to help; try getting teens to talk about any important matters, let alone suicidal ones. Yeah, I am not surprised that it comes to a breaking point of school shootings.

        After all these years people will not admit that these thoughts happen and that kids help. Instead we have "blame the victim of bullying", "toughen up", and "kids will be kids." If Stephen Fucking King is afraid to talk about this subject, it is truly hopeless.

    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:30AM (#46766005) Journal

      And, what if this kid commits a Columbine-esque revenge scenario?

      Appropriately, the page with TFA has an ad encouraging me to "Win an AR-15 from Sebastian Ammo". Google is getting scary...

      As for the action taken by the school, one really has to wonder as to what kind of cretins make up the school administration. And what they could possibly have hoped to achieve by filing charges, other than a nasty (and well deserved) publicity backlash? Although for a society run by lawyers, that's perhaps what one would expect. Squeaky wheel gets a beating, and a teenager gets hauled in front of a judge on charges of "disorderly conduct" in a school. Seriously... Can any of the officials involved in this case look in the mirror and tell themselves that they are doing the Right Thing?

      • by korbulon (2792438) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:49AM (#46766193)

        As for the action taken by the school, one really has to wonder as to what kind of cretins make up the school administration.

        Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who're cunts, administrate.

      • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:56AM (#46766283) Homepage Journal

        Appropriately, the page with TFA has an ad encouraging me to "Win an AR-15 from Sebastian Ammo". Google is getting scary...

        Must not have been a Google ad, Google doesn't allow gun ads [google.com]. Personally, I think that's stupid, but in the interest of accuracy, your ad couldn't have been from Google.

      • by Enigma2175 (179646) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @10:20AM (#46768107) Homepage Journal

        As for the action taken by the school, one really has to wonder as to what kind of cretins make up the school administration. And what they could possibly have hoped to achieve by filing charges, other than a nasty (and well deserved) publicity backlash? Although for a society run by lawyers, that's perhaps what one would expect. Squeaky wheel gets a beating, and a teenager gets hauled in front of a judge on charges of "disorderly conduct" in a school. Seriously... Can any of the officials involved in this case look in the mirror and tell themselves that they are doing the Right Thing?

        Article is bullshit. It says:

        "School administrators threatened to charge him with felony wiretapping before eventually agreeing to reduce the charge to disorderly conduct."

        School administrators do not charge anyone with anything. They are not the law and do not file charges or determine what charges should be filed. It sounds to me it is a lot more likely that the police determined that a crime had been committed BECAUSE IT HAD. Pennsylvania is one of the few all-party consent states [wikipedia.org] and it is illegal to record somebody without notifying them that you are recording. The kid DID break the law. If you don't like that law (I certainly don't) then get it changed but to whine about school administrators and police enforcing the law that is on the books doesn't get it changed.

    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:34AM (#46766043)

      He'll either:
        - Go Columbine.
        - Learn to cope.
        - Pay an illegal immigrant $100 to stab the bully in the kidney.

      The third option is the safest one as long as he's smart enough to find a way to not leave a trace about the contract.

      I'm not sure which option produces a better society as a result.

      • by hattig (47930) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:58AM (#46766313) Journal

        Most likely the bullies are members of the school's football team, hence the protection afforded to them.

        So option three, but targeting the Achilles heel tendon or other sport-critical tendon/muscle, is a great option, in my opinion.

        Clearly the school has a bullying problem, and a control problem. It's a sick, diseased school run by weak people, and teachers too afraid to do their job to protect students from bullies who are on the school football team. This is something that requires state intervention, I presume the state has school inspection bodies, and the ability to enact punishments? I would suggest a ban in intra-school sporting competition for a couple of years until the school's curriculum has moved back towards education.

        Indeed, I think that US school sports is really weirdly venerated. I'd split the two up, schools can have basic sport, but clubs, etc, should be run outside of the school, maybe with loose affiliation, but having no influence on the school's central reason for existence - education.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:30AM (#46766661)

        "- Pay an illegal immigrant $100 to stab the bully in the kidney."

        Slashdot is no place to advocate outsourcing good American jobs to illegals and you are a bad person.

    • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:37AM (#46766063)

      The problem wasn't taken care of because the first priority of schools officials isn't to protect the students, it's to protect the school (and their jobs). They wanted the recording deleted before it could get out and embarrass them. The police just helped them.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why wasn't a copy made before showing the authorities? ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS MAKE A COPY!!!!

        Not only should a copy have been made, it should have been uploaded to "the internet" as soon as possible where it could never go away.

      • by Neil Boekend (1854906) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:39AM (#46766775)

        Streisand effect.

        • by NotDrWho (3543773)

          They would rather have a news story about the arrest than the recording itself going viral. As a poster above noted, this poor kid and his parents were naive for not making a copy (and for trusting school officials to act in anyone's interest but their own).

    • by jythie (914043) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:52AM (#46766235)
      Yeah, that is the thing that drives me crazy about all the talk about bullying in schools. Schools (and police) pretty much never acknowledge the role they play in strengthening the bullies' hands or even actively participating.

      The worst bullying cases I have known involved teachers joining in, reenforcing the idea that the victim deserves it or is simply being shown their proper social place. And sadly the whole myth that bullies are some broken losers really makes things more difficult since most of them simply have a higher social standing in the school and are acting as their peers feel is appropriate.
    • by FilmedInNoir (1392323) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:00AM (#46766335)
      A girl got raped here a few years ago and later committed suicide. It would of been the end of it, if not for the divine intervention of Anonymous.
      So then people wanted to form a torch welding mob when the facts surrounding it came out, not everyone though, there was a smaller group supporting the rapists.
      So while that angry mob never did form, the pro-rapist group managed to carry out some assaults on people speaking out in favor of punishing the rapists.
      Of course, our fearless POlice step in and say they will spare no expensive or lethal force to protect these people, the rapists that is... the victim and her supporters can go to hell. "She deserved what happened to her."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by operagost (62405)
      It's time we allow single-party consent of recording in Pennsylvania. I'm not sure this issue will be the one that finally results in movement, but I hope it will.
    • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:59AM (#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 nblender (741424) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:12AM (#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.

  • by OffTheLip (636691) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:18AM (#46765921)
    Ordinary citizens face felony convictions for this while the feds do something similar and are combatting terromism to keep us safe.
  • WTF?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:19AM (#46765927) Homepage

    So, kid gathers evidence of bullying by other kids, gets charged?

    That is insane.

    So, if I take a video of someone stealing my car, would I get arrested? Under what circumstances could I do that and not be charged? WTF doesn't gathering evidence of bullying get an exemption from wiretap laws?

    Whatever law enforcement and officers of the court were involved in this are total morons. This makes no sense at all.

    • Re:WTF?? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Talderas (1212466) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:30AM (#46766009)

      Yes, the kid got charged because he violated Pennsylvania's wiretapping and recording laws. Pennsylvania is a two-party consent state so both parties to the conversation must consent before a recording can be made.

      No, you would not be arrested and charged for video taping someone stealing your car because you aren't recording a conversation.

      • Re:WTF?? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:43AM (#46766135)

        Yes, the kid got charged because he violated Pennsylvania's wiretapping and recording laws. Pennsylvania is a two-party consent state so both parties to the conversation must consent before a recording can be made.

        A good lawyer would get it thrown out for Necessity.

        "In U.S. criminal law, necessity may be either a possible justification or an exculpation for breaking the law. Defendants seeking to rely on this defense argue that they should not be held liable for their actions as a crime because their conduct was necessary to prevent some greater harm and when that conduct is not excused under some other more specific provision of law such as self defense." - wikipedia

        Recording the bullies was NECESSARY in order to prove the bullying existed, so it could be dealt with.

        • Re:WTF?? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Talderas (1212466) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:20AM (#46766537)

          I'm going to play devil's advocate here because I read the article to see what event had transpired.

          Necessity typically requires three tests to be a valid defense, the defendent needs to be breaking the law to avoid a significant risk of harm, there were no adequate lawful means to address the situation, and the harm avoided was greater than the harm caused by breaking the law. The problem in this situation is the second one. The problem is that neither of the articles suggested that any other steps were taken to stop the bullying prior to committing the recording. That's the problem. There's no suggestion that the boy told his mother about the bullying, there's no suggestion that the mother contacted the school about the bullying before the recording was made. All that exists is a vague statement that the boy felt powerless so he made the recording. No suggestion as to why he felt powerless, be it lack of response when bringing the issue up or due to his own disabilities. This situation, unlike many of the clear cases of necessity, had a long period of time over which to address the problem rather than requiring near immediate action such as to prevent someone from being injured or killed.

          • Re:WTF?? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by crakbone (860662) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:39AM (#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).
          • Re:WTF?? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:07AM (#46767089)

            There's no suggestion that the boy told his mother about the bullying, there's no suggestion that the mother contacted the school about the bullying before the recording was made.

            The teacher is present on the recording as well. The authorities had 'been contacted', since they were directly witnessing the events. There's no additional onus to rub their noses in it. The idea that a teacher feels the words 'cunt' and 'twat' being used in her presence are acceptable is absurd.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          To be honest, this story comes across as a bit sensational. Two minutes of research shows an *out* from the wire taping statute.

          Necessity is a defense, although quite tough to use in practice; it's a bit like successfully using an insanity defense -- possible, but highly unlikely. Also, the necessity description you provide is a general statement of the principle, not the language Pennsylvania has adopted. As a common law defense, the state courts adoption is what controls. Moreover, necessity isn't al

          • Re:WTF?? (Score:4, Informative)

            by j-beda (85386) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:40AM (#46767499) Homepage

            To be honest, this story comes across as a bit sensational. Two minutes of research shows an *out* from the wire taping statute.

            Necessity is a defense, although quite tough to use in practice; it's a bit like successfully using an insanity defense -- possible, but highly unlikely. Also, the necessity description you provide is a general statement of the principle, not the language Pennsylvania has adopted. As a common law defense, the state courts adoption is what controls. Moreover, necessity isn't always a defense (even if you prove the elements) -- it depends upon how the statue is written.

            Turning to the OUT I mentioned above, there is an exception built right into the statue. Full text can be found here:
            http://www.legis.state.pa.us/c... [state.pa.us]

            In relevant part, the wiretapping statute provides:
            ---------

              5703 Provides "**Except** as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if he: (1) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, electronic or oral communication;"

              5704 Contains a long list of exceptions. For the most part they apply to police, telecom, or telemarketers (go figure). Subsection 17 is relevant here ...

              5704 (17) Any victim ... to intercept the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, if that person is under a reasonable suspicion that the intercepted party is committing, about to commit or has committed a crime of violence and there is reason to believe that evidence of the crime of violence may be obtained from the interception.

            If the bullying was as bad as the article describes, the student could surely have reasonable suspicion that the party was about to commit a crime of violence.

            You can read more about this here:
            http://www.phila-criminal-lawy... [phila-crim...lawyer.com]

            Good point!

      • Re:WTF?? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:54AM (#46766257) Homepage

        Yes, the kid got charged because he violated Pennsylvania's wiretapping and recording laws. Pennsylvania is a two-party consent state so both parties to the conversation must consent before a recording can be made.

        Yeah, and supposedly this school has a zero tolerance policy towards bullying.

        And according to TFA, the bullying was happening in the class room, with a teacher present. Which means the school had more or less abandoned their role in policing this, and the kid was left with no other recourse.

        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.

        What teacher can't be watching this in their own classroom and NOT understand that bullying was happening?

        If the teacher who was physically in the room wasn't doing anything, WTF good is telling the school about it? Because the school is either indifferent, clueless, or incompetent to address the issue.

        And the officer involved?? I would also say was incompetent or indifferent:

        He later answered as to why he thought the disorderly conduct charge applied to this case by saying, "Because his (the student's) actions - he engaged in actions which served no legitimate purpose." He then read the statute as, "Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by acts which serve no legitimate purpose."

        I would say the legitimate purpose was to demonstrate that the bullying was, in fact happening, was happening while there was a teacher present, and that nothing at all was being done about it. He certainly didn't create a "hazardous or physically offensive condition". Sorry, but I think the cop was a fucking idiot.

        I'm inclined to agree with the lawyer on this one. The police misapplied the statute here, forced the kid to destroy the evidence, and then didn't do a single thing about the problem.

        And people wonder why kids go into school with guns? I can't even believe the story has a link to a contest to win an AR-15.

        I read this whole story as a complete failure of the police and school to understand and deal with the actual issue here.

        • Your interpretation of the actions of the police as incompetent are probably mistaken because of a failure to appreciate the true goals and motives of the police here.

          This story makes me pause and consider cui bono.

          It appears the mother went directly to the principal rather than the teacher. The recording and transcription also seems to cast the teacher in a poor light. So it would seem the initial complaint was as much against the ineffectiveness of the teacher as it was against the bullying itself. It

      • Re:WTF?? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:13AM (#46766461)
        There are two things about this. Pennsylvania's "two-party consent" only applies in situations where those being recorded without their consent have a "reasonable expectation of privacy." I have a problem with the judge finding that people (teachers and students) have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the classroom. The other thing is that the Pennsylvania law also has an exception that states that you do not need to permission of someone who is committing a crime in the recording. That would not have applied in this case since not all of those being recorded were committing a crime. (I am not sure if any of the actions recorded crossed over into criminal territory, or not. Although if I was a judge, or on a jury, they are at a minimum close enough that I would be unwilling to convict the person recording them.)
    • Re:WTF?? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:35AM (#46766053)

      So, kid gathers evidence of bullying by other kids, gets charged?

      When bullies grow up, they become policemen. The police protect their own.

      • Re:WTF?? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:41AM (#46766115)

        Reason enough to end the life of bullies early on. Killing a policeman can really get you into trouble.

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      So, if I take a video of someone stealing my car, would I get arrested? Under what circumstances could I do that and not be charged? WTF doesn't gathering evidence of bullying get an exemption from wiretap laws?

      Depends on what your state recording laws are. Do you live in a one-party consent state or all-party consent state? Are you recording just video, just audio, or audio and video? Does the other party have an expectation of privacy (e.g. recording bullying in a restroom). Was the recording done cove

      • Actually, almost all all-party consent states have an exception for recording someone who is committing a crime. Of course that would not apply in this case since not all of those recorded were committing a crime (even if the bullying actions recorded crossed over the line into criminal behavior).
  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:19AM (#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 @07:20AM (#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 Kjella (173770) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:28AM (#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.

    • by fermion (181285)
      The interactions between children are not the same as the interaction between adults. Even in high school there is judgement call. If we are honest, we admit that there are these kids running around being aggressively annoying and the solution is not only to punish the bully, but to teach the person who is being bullied how to act in civilized society. This is probably not what happened here, but the point is we don't have all the facts. It could be that it is a simple case of group aggression against a
  • All-party state (Score:5, Informative)

    by king neckbeard (1801738) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:24AM (#46765963)
    The probably is Pennsylvania is an all-party state, where most states only require the consent of one party to record.
    • Correct [wikipedia.org]. Maryland is one as well, and MD police used the anti-wire tap law as an excuse for years to prevent people from videotaping their actions before the Supreme Court finally called them on that perverse interpretation. Even now, MD police hate to be recorded [wbaltv.com].
    • Re:All-party state (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sasparillascott (1267058) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:52AM (#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 jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:24AM (#46765967)

    Assuming this kid doesn't get his tablet smashed as the very next level of bullying...

    He needs to record the bullying again, but this time, the recording needs to go directly to all local media outlets, and perhaps directly to social media as well. This may not make much difference to the bullies on the bus, but it's a lot harder for the bullies in the school administration or police department to bury.

    It is still possible to shame entrenched bullies out of positions of authority. It doesn't often happen, but it's worth a try. It's certainly a Noble Cause.

  • Legal Analysis (Score:5, Informative)

    by What'sInAName (115383) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:25AM (#46765975) Homepage Journal

    Here's an interesting article that looks at the legal aspects of this case:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/... [washingtonpost.com]

    tl;dr version: The charges are bullshit.

  • Charge the officer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:26AM (#46765977)

    Tampering with evidence, intimidating a witness, and dereliction of duty. Under no circumstances should he have ordered the child to delete the recording. If there was a felony charge to be made, it was his duty to make it. Ordering and then overseeing the destruction of evidence to that effect is actionable.

  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:33AM (#46766039) Journal

    I'm sure I speak for a few slashdotters when I say, I copped it at school too.

    The few times teachers got involved, I was apparently doing the wrong thing, not the person picking on me. As far as I'm concerned, if there's one thing I could change about my childhood - it would be the balls to stand up for myself and at least settle on a point in the pecking order. The few times I did stand up for myself, while incredibly scary for me - worked out in the end. The people involved generally left me alone after that.

    This is instinctual bullshit, bullies themselves are often more messed up than the people they intimidate, normally stuff from parents, older brothers or god knows what, bad homes, drugs, alcohol, abuse - etc. None the less playground bullying and intimidation is simply alpha dominance rubbish but it's also part of life and nature. The last person who is going to help properly with this is a teacher unfortunately.

  • by SlurpingGreen (1589607) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:36AM (#46766059)

    I was assaulted once by a kid twice my size in middle school. He was harassing a group of 5 girls, taking their bags and throwing them on the ground. I asked him, "Why are you being such an asshole? Why don't you just leave them alone?" He punched me in the back of the head when I turned to walk away, then took about 12 swings at my face while sitting on top of me. I never hit him at all, just deflected most of his attacks.

    The next day, the school administrator gave both of us detention for a week. He said I shouldn't have used foul language.

    I think there's a kind of deep inability on the part of adults to distinguish between rough play that got a little out of hand and a bully who's completely out of control. I can't see any school policy fixing that.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:44AM (#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.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:47AM (#46766175) Homepage
    because this is how you get school shootings. Or in Pennsylvanias recent case, school stabbings. When you strip a person of their safety, and offer them no recourse, they become hard. They become determined with nothing to lose. They adopt these horriffic scorched earth tactics because nothing you say or do is consistent or fair, so the outcome and result of their actions is no longer relevant. And the saddest part is in the aftermath.

    people will wonder how they could have helped, what caused it, and why this happened. Gun nuts will bark about bullet proof blackboards and guns for teachers. Parents will entirely miss the point and call for tougher gun laws. No one will stop to consider students or kids for that matter as real people.
    • No mod points here, so the best I can give is an "Amen!"

      Personally, I was the youngest kid in the class. Kinda short, kinda fat, a kinda a dork. I was a prime target. Nothing like watching the gym teacher laugh as you get a hockey stick under your rips lifting you up off the ground (think bear hug from behind -- kinda creepy in retrospect). The senior(s) and teachers didn't laugh as hard once I whacked one upside the head. Not too hard, but enough to get his attention.

      Thankfully, a couple years later

  • by Formorian (1111751) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:57AM (#46766301)

    (assistant principal Aaron ) Skrbin testified that the district had records of Love complaining about students bullying her son, including an incident in October in which a student hit her son with “spitwads,” even after her son told him to stop.
    “To be blunt, I would not classifying that as bullying,” Skrbin said.

    WTF?!?!?!?

    I was bullyed in high school. Swirlies/harrassment/vocal/physical. Worst 4 years of my life. I never had the courage back then to stand up, and/or tell my parents. I've since grown and now I'll stand up to random people on street harrassing a complete stranger. It's just gaining confidence, but in HS it's hard to gain that while being bullied.

    But spitwads are a form of bullying, esp if requested to stop and it doesn't and it escalates. It's a way of hummiliating someone. I can't stand teachers/adults in position like this and they nothing against the bullies. no let's punish the victims. I always hoped that with the bullying issue brought more to light a few years ago, this would end, but nope teachers still blaiming the victims. It's sickening.

    • by SecurityGuy (217807) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:32AM (#46766683)

      My child was harassing another kid in school. It went on for months. The other kid didn't want to go to school anymore. It was a Big Deal. Finally, the parent called me because she wasn't successful in getting the school to stop it. I called the principal and asked basically "where the hell is your anti bullying policy" and got the same response. He didn't consider it bullying. As you said, "WTF?!?!?!?!". The first I'd ever heard of this was when the other parent called me. More parents need to get involved in schools. Show up at school board meetings. Read them the riot act when they need it. Campaign against the bad ones at election time and for the good ones.

      Oh, and you can bet my kid stopped that crap that day.

  • by korbulon (2792438) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:00AM (#46766329)

    Here are the details of the relevant parties:

    The "judge": Maureen McGraw-Desmet

    295 Millers Run Road Bridgeville, PA 15017 phone: 412-221-3353 fax: 412-221-0908

    The "officer": http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ro... [linkedin.com]

    and then there's this piece of shit: http://www.southfayette.org/si... [southfayette.org] (smilburn@southfayette.org)

    If ever there was a job for Anonymous...

  • mixes special ed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by colfer (619105) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:04AM (#46766377)

    The special ed kids with learning disabilities are mixed with the ones with behavioral/emotional disabilities in this school. In other words, people that get made fun of, and people that are a danger to them. Sheep and wolves. Must make the regular classrooms nice to remove both the slow learners and troublemakers.

    The same thing happens in homeless shelters, where it's hard to protect the defenselessly mentally ill from the bad guys. And prisons, where a lot of mentally ill people live due to the policies of our country.

    Another problem in this case is that the police and the judge are an extension of the school administration, and see themselves that way. Also, it is a small Western Pennsylvania school district surely dominated by athletics. Also, we don't know the full story. This could be the best school in the world, but I somehow doubt it.

  • by Applehu Akbar (2968043) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:32AM (#46766679)

    If I had been that kid, my response to the police bullying that backed up the school bullying would have been to proudly put that video out there on YouTube, with a full and factual description of the police reaction, naming names and quoting the threats. Become such an Internet hot potato that no authority is going to punish you.

    I have noted the same problem in the private sector: you have a consumer problem with some large company, which has found that just ignoring your complaint generally makes it go away. After putting up with months of the runaround, you create a "United Breaks Guitars" video and send it viral. THAT gets attention, and the fix you've been looking for.

  • How icky. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thesandtiger (819476) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:52AM (#46766917)

    Is anyone else creeped out by how hopeful some of the posters here seem to be about the possibility of the kid "going Columbine"?

    I get it that many slashdotters feel they were abused by bullies when they were kids, but the fact is pretty much every kid ever has been picked on (and has bullied another kid) at some time in their childhood. Yeah, it sucks, and yeah, the authorities here should absolutely be taken out of positions where they can commit future injustices like this, but in no way, shape or form should revenge fantasies like "going Columbine" be casually thrown about as if yeah, that's something reasonable.

    Yeah, it sucks that some of you were horribly treated when you were young, but get the fuck over it already. If you still get overwraught to the point where you fantasize about killing people at shit that happened 10 years ago on a playground, you have problems and you need to address them.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:00AM (#46766995) Homepage

    They are not there to protect you, never have been never will be.

  • Wire tapping? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:58AM (#46767737)

    The kid needs a new attorney. From Pennsylvania's own site:
    The law does not cover oral communications when the speakers do not have an "expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation." See 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. 5702 (link is to the entire code, choose Title 18, Part II, Article F, Chapter 57, Subchapter A, and then the specific provision). Therefore, you may be able to record in-person conversations occurring in a public place without consent. However, you should always get the consent of all parties before recording any conversation that common sense tells you is private.

    The recordings he made were all in the public venue. Also, while recording conversations in PA requires the consent of both parties, that is only for the purposes of meetings, phone conversations, etc. Otherwise, recording the school play or little league team would be a violation under the law in PA and it isn't. No, either the story is short on a critical fact, or a grave injustice has occurred.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @10:18AM (#46768065) Journal
    Suspend it from foot ball league. As long as we value football trophies more than the mental health of the students, this will continue to happen.

    Even though the recordings have been deleted, the officials can be called in and to testify what they saw. The teacher who was allegedly present in these bullying sessions can be called in to testify. Collect evidence of bullying and have the school suspended for three years. That will teach them.

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