This past November, at a Cundles Rd plaza, a block from the police station, several dozen teenagers, some with cheering devices, and a camera, watched as a nearby high school student was beaten. They cheered. They threw him back for more. One person shot the whole thing on film. And then put it on You Tube. When one woman tried to interfere, they barricaded her into her car and pelted it with eggs. They were all high school students from two doors down the street.
Twenty-eight years ago, when 13 year old Rodney Jackson and his buddy left the Imperial Theatre downtown, they were jumped by a couple of older boys. Two older women beat off the thugs, swinging their purses and yelling at them to back off.
Twenty eight years ago.
Many of us shake our heads in wonder… at the detachment of some young people who condone and encourage and enthuse over the bullying of one person. And we shake our heads that someone actually thinks it belongs on You Tube. And that others want to view it!
The Reynolds family, whose beaten son was the victim of physical and social media bullying, was frustrated by the response of the school and the police who said that nothing could be done to remove the video from You Tube and that nothing could be done about the students’ off-school-grounds behaviour.
In fact, by chance meeting, it was Rodney Jackson who removed the You Tube video, (Rod might skip into the police station and show someone how). [Rod’s instructions are at the end of this column]
What started as text messaging name-calling and taunting ended up in a bloody, public beating. The results were devastating for the Reynolds family, particularly for their son. The humiliation wrought itself in absenteeism and it looked like he would not return to his school.
Have we as a society become so de-sensitized that we could be in that plaza, getting our hair done, having our eyes checked, buying a pizza, checking out items at the thrift store, and hear this fight and do nothing? It’s an example of active citizenship gone missing, that’s for sure.
The system failed the Reynolds… the school, the police, and the spectators at the plaza AND those who rushed to You Tube to enjoy the video.
Fast forward half a year and let’s now celebrate the strength of the entire Reynolds community… the mom and dad, their son, their friends, and people who care. The boy is back in school. He has an after-school job. He’s getting on with his life. The Reynolds are pouring their energy not into retaliation but into building. Thus, their charity, I’m A Smart Kid, www.iamasmartkid.org. Using a donation from Rotary and the kindness of the Stewart Esten law firm, they’re having the name incorporated as a charity. The website is under construction, and SMART is taking on full meaning. Social Media Awareness Resonsibility Team. “We raise awareness and teach kids how to be responsible online, in social media. You can really hurt yourself with social media; it’s such a powerful tool. We want to open up the topic and show kids (and their families) how to be SMART about the world wide web and all its interconnections,” says Sharron Reynolds.
Turning grief into good, I’m a SMART kid has just proclaimed a week in November as SMART awareness week. They’re developing workshops and reaching out into the community to develop a board of directors for their charity… they need accounting skills (treasurer), ethnic diversity (including lifestyle and nationality), technical skills (for web and internet support), media (for getting the word out), child advocate (someone who truly believes that today’s youth are tomorrow’s future). A board of directors with these kinds of skills will make SMART everything it can be. It’s about self care, and online etiquette. Abort, Support, Report is the mandate… abort what you’re doing, Support yourself or someone else, Report abuse immediately.
Like drinking and driving contracts between parents and kids, the SMART pledge is worth discussing and supporting among your students, your children, your peers, your employees. It goes like this:
I pledge to be “SMART” when using information & social media technologies.
I am taking a stand against cyber-bullying.
I will abort when being cyber-bullied.
I will support others who are being bullied.
I will report cyber-bullying when I am aware of it.
I will not join in cyber tactics to hurt others.
I will be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
I am a SMART Kid.
Thanks Reynolds family, for having the sinew to go for good! Interested? firstname.lastname@example.org
You can remove a video from You Tube… thanks to Rod Jackson:
“I didn’t get too far trying to phone You Tube. They just aren’t set up for that kind of call. I went online and worked my way through the website and found a place for complaints. I wrote a complaint about the video and filled in the drop down box of why I thought it was offensive. I clicked on ‘exploiting violence’ and sent it through.
I followed up with a phone call to a number on the site.
By the time I got through, the video was down.”