Do you know what your child is doing online? Well, you'd better. A recent incident of violent behavior has been traced back to disturbing messages on the social media kids live for. If you don't want your child to be a target – or a horrifying bully – you must read one Parenting reader's account of a recent disturbing incident in Los Angeles.
Apparently Friday, November 20th was designated “Kick a Ginger” Day by a group on Facebook inspired by a South Park episode about beating up kids with red hair and freckles. It may sound ridiculous, but unfortunately the idea caught on. Several beatings took place at schools across the country on Friday, and a 12-year-old boy in our area was one of them.
When he was dropped off at school last Friday, a group of kids ready to “kick a ginger” laid in waiting for him. His dad was no sooner out of the parking lot before they starting chasing him – he was kicked in the groin and taken down. As he lay on the concrete ground at school, 15 of his peers, some of them classmates, surrounded him like a wild animal and formed a circle around his body. They proceeded to kick him repeatedly over and over again.
He was kicked in the groin, the stomach, shoulder, legs, and head. When he finally managed to escape and hide, he thought he was safe to go back into school. Then, 8th graders formed a line (he is in 7th grade and the first attack was 7th graders) and would not let him past. They also took him to the ground and proceeded to do the same thing to him. It is appalling and disgusting what he went through, and he was not the only one. Several friends of his, who are also redheads, went through the same torture.
He was taken to the hospital on Friday because his parents thought his arm might have been broken. Luckily, it was not. Just a deep bone bruise. He is in a sling and his bruises and physical wounds will heal, but he is embarrassed, humiliated and afraid to go back to school. I just hope that he will be able to put this whole ugly incident behind him.
I urge all of you to monitor what happens on Facebook and the internet, and PLEASE talk to your kids and let them know that this type of behavior is not OK. Kids are subject to so many horrible things, and sometimes they can not differentiate wrong from right.
Here are some tips for talking to your child about internet safety:
*Keep tabs on how much time your child is spending online. Ask who she's chatting with and if anything interesting is going on -- and be ready to discuss anything that sounds like it could be an issue.
*Ask if your child is aware of any such unacceptable activity in her social circle--she just might tell you all about it. Even if you don't know specific names, it's still worth reporting to authorities if the behavior is serious enough.
*Create your own Facebook page and ask your child to "friend" you so that you have access to who he is socializing with and what's being said. Keep an eye on how often he posts--most kids will do so at least daily. If yours isn't, chances are this is a fake profile page he created for you, and he has another one that he uses with friends.
*Check your browser's history. While you won't be able to get onto your child's Facebook page this way, you will be able to see whose pages she's been visiting.