Possible bullying incident in school bathroom under investigation

Parents are outraged and police are investigating after a video surfaced showing a student being bullied and shoved into the toilet in the bathroom of a Massachusetts high school.The video appears to show several students dragging another into a bathroom stall at Wilmington High School, lifting him up and shoving him face-first into a toilet while at least a dozen other kids laugh and record the attack on their phones.Wilmington Police Department Chief Joseph Desmond confirmed that there are numerous videos of the attack and said his department is investigating the incident as a possible crime. “There’s a couple of elements to this. There’s the actual act itself and then there’s the bystanders that videotape it and take no action and watch it happen,” Desmond said. “That, you know, may not rise to the level of a crime but clearly we and the school are concerned about that and will probably take action on some of those kids as well.” Three students were suspended for ten days amid the ongoing investigation, Desmond confirmed. School officials declined an interview citing student privacy issues, but in a letter to parents, Wilmington Public Schools Superintendent Glenn Brand said he was “appalled” by the altercation and the fact that so many students are seen in the video but do not come to the aid of the victim. “I assure you that all students who are found culpable will be held fully accountable and appropriate disciplinary and legal action will be taken,” Brand said. “We are in the process of scheduling bystander training that will be mandatory for all students.”Parents also said they were disturbed by the video and want accountability.”I felt so sick to my stomach. It totally just made my stomach turn,” Mandeep Lane said. “That is not acceptable.””It’s horrific. It’s just horrific,” said Karen Walsh. “I think we can do better in teaching our kids that bystanding is just as much as a participant as the people who actually did the act.” Desmond said his department will work with the District Attorney’s office to determine whether any charges are appropriate as a result of the investigation. The Wilmington case is one of several recent fights and possible bullying incidents in the area.Dr. Eugene Beresen, of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Mass. General Hospital, said the effects of bullying can follow children into adulthood. “We have to empower the bystanders to be more assertive and to fend off the bullies and help the victims. We have to have school policies that have zero tolerance for both physical and online bullying. We also have to have conversations with our kids at home with all of the various forms of bullying and being bullies and being the victim.”LINK: More information from the Clay CenterFull statement issued on behalf of Wilmington Public Schools Superintendent Glenn Brand:”Earlier this week there was a physical altercation that occurred in one of the boys’ bathrooms at the Wilmington High School. As a parent, let alone an educator, I am appalled that some of our students decided to act the way that they did. But what is equally disturbing is the fact that other students were present and did nothing to stop the incident, and in fact recorded the altercation.”We are actively investigating the incident and have also notified the Wilmington Police, who have launched their own investigation and have our full cooperation. I assure you that all students who are found culpable will be held fully accountable and appropriate disciplinary and legal action will be taken. Meanwhile, conversations with the high school administration and student class officers are already underway, and we are in the process of scheduling bystander training that will be mandatory for all students. We will also hold a series of community conversations for our students, staff, and parents/guardians to ensure that we all continue to work toward our shared goal of providing a safe and supportive environment in our schools.”

Parents are outraged and police are investigating after a video surfaced showing a student being bullied and shoved into the toilet in the bathroom of a Massachusetts high school.

The video appears to show several students dragging another into a bathroom stall at Wilmington High School, lifting him up and shoving him face-first into a toilet while at least a dozen other kids laugh and record the attack on their phones.

Wilmington Police Department Chief Joseph Desmond confirmed that there are numerous videos of the attack and said his department is investigating the incident as a possible crime.

“There’s a couple of elements to this. There’s the actual act itself and then there’s the bystanders that videotape it and take no action and watch it happen,” Desmond said. “That, you know, may not rise to the level of a crime but clearly we and the school are concerned about that and will probably take action on some of those kids as well.”

Three students were suspended for ten days amid the ongoing investigation, Desmond confirmed.

School officials declined an interview citing student privacy issues, but in a letter to parents, Wilmington Public Schools Superintendent Glenn Brand said he was “appalled” by the altercation and the fact that so many students are seen in the video but do not come to the aid of the victim.

“I assure you that all students who are found culpable will be held fully accountable and appropriate disciplinary and legal action will be taken,” Brand said. “We are in the process of scheduling bystander training that will be mandatory for all students.”

Parents also said they were disturbed by the video and want accountability.

“I felt so sick to my stomach. It totally just made my stomach turn,” Mandeep Lane said. “That is not acceptable.”

“It’s horrific. It’s just horrific,” said Karen Walsh. “I think we can do better in teaching our kids that bystanding is just as much as a participant as the people who actually did the act.”

Desmond said his department will work with the District Attorney’s office to determine whether any charges are appropriate as a result of the investigation.

The Wilmington case is one of several recent fights and possible bullying incidents in the area.

Dr. Eugene Beresen, of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Mass. General Hospital, said the effects of bullying can follow children into adulthood.

“We have to empower the bystanders to be more assertive and to fend off the bullies and help the victims. We have to have school policies that have zero tolerance for both physical and online bullying. We also have to have conversations with our kids at home with all of the various forms of bullying and being bullies and being the victim.”

LINK: More information from the Clay Center


Full statement issued on behalf of Wilmington Public Schools Superintendent Glenn Brand:

“Earlier this week there was a physical altercation that occurred in one of the boys’ bathrooms at the Wilmington High School. As a parent, let alone an educator, I am appalled that some of our students decided to act the way that they did. But what is equally disturbing is the fact that other students were present and did nothing to stop the incident, and in fact recorded the altercation.

“We are actively investigating the incident and have also notified the Wilmington Police, who have launched their own investigation and have our full cooperation. I assure you that all students who are found culpable will be held fully accountable and appropriate disciplinary and legal action will be taken. Meanwhile, conversations with the high school administration and student class officers are already underway, and we are in the process of scheduling bystander training that will be mandatory for all students. We will also hold a series of community conversations for our students, staff, and parents/guardians to ensure that we all continue to work toward our shared goal of providing a safe and supportive environment in our schools.”

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