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Bullying incident in Urbana was caught on social media and sparks controversy

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Bullying incident in Urbana was caught on social media and sparks controversy

By Cailyn Zanylo, Round table Reporter

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A group of FCPS middle school students, harassed and beat a fellow student on the way home from school. During this incident the group of students decided to film a video of them retaliating against their classmate and posted it on to social media.

The victim, a young student from Urbana Middle School, had recently told teachers that the attackers were in possession of a juul. A juul is a new type of e-cigarette in the shape of a USB or flash drive, containing as much nicotine in one pod, as a pack of cigarettes. These are most popular among middle school, high school, and college age adolescents.

The attackers in retaliation against the boy, decided to make a video of them ‘getting even’, and posted it on to social media.

In the video, the victim is surrounded by a group of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. One of the kids in the surrounding circle accuses the victim of ‘snitching’. The tension escalates and the victim tries to get away, eventually running across a roadway. Finally, the video ends with the victim pleading for the attackers to stop.

After the video was filmed and posted, threats were made towards the school and the attackers’ classmates. Legal action was prompted, forcing an extended police presence on the campus of UMS. Michael Doerrer, a Frederick County Schools spokesman added, “We take any threat extremely seriously, whether it’s an offhand comment or threat on social media.”

The school and the Frederick County Sherriff’s Office, tried to identify two of the attackers. Once found, they were given a one day suspension and charged with second-degree assault. The mother of the victim has also sued the children’s’ parents of the kids who assaulted her child.

Chelsea Dingee, an Urbana High school sophomore said, “Right after the whole incident happened, everybody in Urbana was posting about it and saying their opinions.” She added, “If people had not posted about what happened, it definitely would have been a quiet issue that was able to be resolved quickly.”

MHS junior, Bobby Bromwell said social media helps people “connect to a larger audience than just within our county,” transporting this issue into national news. Nowadays, news can not only be found in online newspapers, but circulating on social media as well.

“I couldn’t even believe it was real,” Emmy Hudak, a MHS senior said. “I don’t know how a group of kids could think that this is okay, or have the audacity to film it and post it on social media.”

Dingee said she found out about the incident through a friend who goes to another school in Frederick County. He explained to her what happened and what the video showed. The next day at school, everyone was talking about it and watching the video on repeat.

Social media has been a very talked about topic in the recent news. Many people ask whether or not adolescents should have access to it, and how it has changed everyday life. Bromwell said, “Social media has been very impactful…in good and bad ways because you can talk to your friends and possibly connect with your teachers…but then things that are outside of the classroom can come into school and be a problem.”

Doerrer said, “It’s a serious thing and it hurts to see that as someone involved in education and as a parent.”

Since the assault took place in Frederick County, the question of “could this happen in Middletown?” has become relevant. Sophie Nau, a MHS junior said she thinks something similar could happen in Middletown, “due to the fact that we are still young adolescents, so it’s possible there could always be a repeat of the situation.”

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