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May 27th, 2009
09:31 AM ET

Mom wants cyber bullies punished

The mother of a girl targeted in an online video by other girls says she wants more to be done in the case.

The mother of a girl targeted in an online video by other girls says she wants more to be done in the case.

What would you do if your sixth grade daughter was the target of a vicious internet video? Beth Smith is living that nightmare. Her daughter’s classmates, aged 11 and 12-years-old, made the clip called the “Top Six Ways to Kill Piper,” taking cyber- bullying to a disturbing new level.

What are school officials and police doing about it? Kiran Chetry spoke with Piper Smith and her mom Beth and asked how they first found out this video was online.

Beth Smith: My daughter perceived this girl as a friend of hers at school. They were friendly. And so we had no idea… Totally side-swiped by the idea that she would be this hateful. Piper came home from school on Wednesday the 6th and told me, “You know Mom, the kids are being mean at school. And I heard there's a video like this out there about me.”

I said, “You're kidding. That can't be.” The more we looked online and... Dad came home from work. He made the phone calls. And it was the first parent, the dad who said… he was busy making dinner and he'd get back to us.

Kiran Chetry: Let me ask Piper – what was your reaction when you knew this video was made?

Piper Smith: I guess I was really shocked that someone would do that to me. ‘Cause I thought we were really good friends and then she was two-faced to me. And they did this behind my back and I just didn't know of it until I actually saw the video and then I just couldn't believe that that was happening. I felt really, really numb.

Chetry: And Piper, you've since been back to school. Have you talked to any of these girls? Did they apologize? What's the relationship now?

Piper: Well, one of them called me and she told me “sorry” and I actually listened to it. But the other two, I was either in the shower or I was going to bed by then and I didn't really want to talk to them anyways.

Chetry: This is what the school district said in a statement they released. “When this matter impacted the student's ability to attend school, the district took immediate steps to appropriately discipline the students who had created the video. Since then, these students have expressed remorse.” Are you satisfied with that response?

Beth: No. I can’t imagine they’ve expressed their remorse to anyone except the school for the fact they got caught doing this. They haven’t expressed remorse to us in any form other than that night an hour after the discovery and we're on the phone with their parents and they're sobbing in the background – “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

Piper: They're sorry they got caught.

Beth: They're sorry they got caught. The school district did as little as they possibly could. They erred on the side of caution of the law and for the civil rights of the perpetrators. They didn't do anything to ensure her safety in school until… they suggested we call the sheriff from our home. So we did and we filed a police report.

Chetry: Here's what the sheriff said to us in a statement to CNN. They said, “This case is three weeks old. All parents were in agreement with the way the girls were disciplined. The case was not a prosecutorial case because the girls were 11 years old. We do not believe there was a real threat.” What is your response to the sheriff's statement?

Beth: Huge. They're covering themselves. I had to make four, five, six phone calls to finally get a hold of the detective. Apparently there are only three juvenile detectives in my district. And when he got a hold of me… he said he was familiar with the case. And it turns out, after I had to extract answers from this man, he said he had not seen the video that we had given to the deputy, he had not read my letter that I had sent by registered mail to the district, which is the only reason action was taken.

If I hadn't sent those letters registered mail to the district, we'd still be sitting at home wondering what's going on. That was the only reason those girls were expelled in the first place, that I started to make them think I would take a legal action, which is not what I wanted to do at all.

Chetry: What has been the response from other parents within the school? Is this a problem in your school and in your district?

Beth: Parents don't know what to do. We go to work every day. But the administration knows the ins and outs of the law. And they’ve got the attorneys there. It took the school three days to get me a letter, maybe two days. But it took two or three days to get a letter from the school summarizing what actions they had taken to protect my daughter at school and ensure her safety.

Chetry: I see you rolling your eyes, Piper. What's it been like to be back in school and be in classes with these girls?

Piper: I kind of felt intimidated by them. Because it was just the whole fact that the thing happened and they weren't doing enough. They were trying to do as little as possible to protect themselves from like a lawsuit and stuff like that.

Chetry: And what are you going to do moving forward, Beth?

Beth: What am I going to do next? I'm sick to my stomach every day that I have to send her to school. I'm sad that I have to ask teachers to be vigilant for her safety. I have pictures in my head of the movie "Pay it Forward" where the kid has a knife. They say they can't inspect the other kids’ backpacks for knives, guns, poisons, because of their civil rights. So, yeah, it makes me sick. I'm nauseous every day I send her to school.


Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (512 Responses)
  1. Char

    ADDRESSED TO SULLY...

    You are kidding right? Pack up and move to another state? What about family, friends and not to mention the message you are sending your child? When the things get tough, run? start over? pretend it didn't happen? Expressing their personalities? Please get your head out of the sand... kids that are "expressing" hurting another child need to get their butts into counseling, the world today has gone nuts... there is no empathy, no compassion, no consequences for actions that are unacceptable... bring the strap back in the correct context, to schools, unplug the violent video games, smut lyrics, and movies... unrealistic I know, because you can't un-ring the bell. If we are looking at kids today and as parents saying... I didn't raise them to be like that! No, you probably didn't but, the music, movies, video games and even the news is where your kids were raised when we see them acting out in an unacceptable manner.

    August 21, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  2. Sully

    So, I think that this doesn't mean a thing. So what if these girls made a video on how to hurt someone, I bet they go their punishments. If I were you Beth I wouldn't have taken it this far, you over reacted to this whole situation. If you just kept calm your daughter wouldn't have been afraid to go to school. I believe that they were probably just expressing their personalities and you dont even know if they did it. Who knows they may have taken the blame for the whole thing, MAybe they didn't do it and the person(s) who did are still out there getting ready to hurt someone else, but if I were you just move to a different state and start all over. Move to Kansas I live there and my kids have nothing to worry about they can walk to anywhere without getting hurt, asulted, kidnapped or anything!

    August 19, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  3. mel

    We have been hearing and seeing child bulling going on for years. Everyone's been through it or at least seen someone else go through it. Bullying has not only increased in recent years but now there are even more ways of completely embarrassing kids. From online social chatting sites to online videos. Kids have so much more to worry about and yet we have no new resources or ways to help these children cope with how they are being treated and how they are feeling. I understand it is not the responsibility of the school to punish for actions taken outside of school, but it should involve them when children are scared to come to school due to other children stealing their lunch money and mentally abusing them. Kids need to be able to stand up for themselves or feel someone at school will be there to protect them, or else how do we expect our children to pay attention in class and grow up as a well rounded, mentally stable person. It is impossible to expect children to keep these bad thought to themselves. If schools do not get involved Recently two children both 11 and in different states both hung themselves due to bullying. I am very proud of beth and Piper, what happened with Piper is very hurtful and may leave a damaging affect of her in later years, but the most important thing is to see her mother beth stick up for her. Her mother is Piper's only support and protection and the upsetting reality is, piper will not have her mother when she goes to school. A great initiative would be to set up a club that kids that are feeling upset or angry about something can talk to other peers about during breaks or recesses in school.

    June 10, 2009 at 5:45 pm |
  4. cat4everrr

    ok maria

    June 1, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  5. Art

    No matter how you paint the girls as "just pranksters"... It is still very much against the law to communicate a death threat via the internet.... or anywhere else, .... in any state.

    Charge them, convict them, put them in juvenile detention, expell them from the school system.

    May 31, 2009 at 8:05 pm |
  6. lawyermommy

    BrianMC,

    Since you asked, my law school education was stellar and I graduated at the top of my class! GOSH!

    I am fully aware that you can pursue civil remedies without criminal conviction. However, in the cases of "bullying" i.e. CYBER ASSAULTS COMMITTED ONLINE BY FLAMING ADULT REPROBATES– it is EASIER to win a civil suit AFTER winning in criminal court.

    Civil remedies are great but the I know that anyone who has been targeted by faceless cowardly and criminal ADULTS online probably wants justice for the crimes committed against them. JUSTICE IS THE MOST DESIRED OUTCOME– not just monetary remuneration in payment for the viciousness faced at the hands of these animals!

    For nine years, I faced a most vicious form of ONLINE criminal assaults from Akbar SHabazz, Shay Riley, Jibreel and other accomplices... NO monetary compensation can take the place of the RAW hand of justice against these gutter snipes and others of their ilk. They are PREDATORS.. like serial killers.. appearing normal yet committing heinous crimes against society!

    What is proper just and moral? That these fiends be jailed for a long time!!

    This AMORAL VILE woman who runs these numerous blogs ("Black Female Interracial Marriage blog", "Siddity", Black Womens Interracial Circle" etc, etc.) using material obtained through illegal wiretaps, online battery and assault, abuse and illegal break ins into personal electronic data banks have no business being free. This woman is so convincing in her criminality that as a so called Interracially married woman and Black power proponent, she deceived the Associated press and its so called investigative reporters, who interviewed her for an Interracial marriage piece based on her so called interracial marriage. In reality, SHE IS MARRIED TO A BLACK MAN– and the interracial experiences and promotion she chronicles on her NUMEROUS blog is obtained from illegal and the most vile criminal conduct imaginable. Illegal phone taps, activating microphones in cell and home phones, reading emails, sending malicious viruses, Trojans etc. to unwitting individuals are the means through which this woman gets materials for her fabricated experiences. essays and poorly written books.

    She has no business rearing her football team of children. Her husband is a criminal and coaches CHILDREN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What I want?? What other people in my shows want?? THE FBI to investigate and JAIL these new breed of 21st century threat to our National Security.

    These malevolent SCUMBAGS pride themselves on being more advanced than law enforcement and even believe they can outwit the office of the Presidents Cybercrimes unit!! These are the FIENDS who should be made a NATIONAL example. That is what I want. That IS JUST, PURE AND MORAL!!!

    For me, a Civil Action is great but secondary. The first thing is to JAIL SHAY RILEY aka EVIA aka Halima Sal ANDERSEN aka Felica aka Muslim Bushido aka Booker Rising!!

    This woman should NOT be allowed to keep children in the criminal environment she has created!! Justice will be done when she is exposed and those children removed from HER CUSTODY– to see if they can be saved from the criminality in which they have been DEEPLY and completely steeped!!

    By not routing her, this vile vomit of a pig who prides herself on being an experienced criminal will destroy those young lives and set them on the same path that she walks.

    The "cyber criminals" of today - ADULTS–need to be routed with strong monitoring and stiff sentencing. They need to stay in JAIL for the same time as ARMED ROBBERS in real time do. After all, they are ROBBERS and COMMON THIEVES whose weapon of choice is a technology!

    May 30, 2009 at 1:40 am |
  7. cat4everrr

    repost:

    I. The same exact thing happend to me. here’s what you CAN do

    1. take a look at the laws on the books. states like michigan have laws on the books that are very friendly towards victims of cyber bullying

    2. very important for you to get your paper trail started…file a report with the fbi’s ic3 unit https://complaint.ic3.gov/

    3. take it to court. you can not afford to lay down and be a victim. that only gives the perpetrator a since of empowerment. take it to court even if you have to represent yourself. most states offer legal advice free of charge.

    in short, take control of the situation. sitting back and allowing yourself to be a victim will only embolden the criminal

    II. State laws currently on the books:

    Arkansas
    In 2007, the Arkansas legislation passed a law allowing school officials to take action against cyber bullies even if the bullying did not originate or take place on school property. The law gave school administrators much more freedom to punish those individuals who sought to harass their fellow students.

    Idaho
    2006 saw Idaho lawmakers pass a law that allowed school officials to suspend students if they bullied or harassed other students using a telephone or computer.

    Iowa
    Iowa has passed several laws that force schools to create anti-cyber bullying policies which cover bullying “in schools, on school property or at any school function or school-sponsored activity.”
    Help prevent cyber bullying in schools by using your own Cyber Bully Prevention Software.

    New Jersey
    The Garden State of New Jersey has always maintained tough laws about bullying, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the laws were amended to include bullying via “electronic communication.” These laws give additional power to the school system to enforce bullying-related punishment for actions that may not take place while on school grounds.

    Oregon
    The progressive state of Oregon really delves into the details of cyber bullying. The laws passed in recent years in Oregon expand the boundaries of what constitutes cyber bullying to include those actions which “substantially interfere” with the education of the young person.

    Missouri
    The suicide of a 13-year old girl Megan Meier who was the victim of an internet hoax greatly raised the awareness of cyber bullying and its consequences in the state of Missouri. Governor Matt Blunt went so far as to create a task force whose sole purpose was to study and create laws regarding cyber bullying. As a result the Internet Harassment Task Force now stands as a shining example for other states around the country. Missouri has also toughened their laws on the matter, upgrading cyber-harassment from a misdemeanor to a Class D felony.

    New York
    New York created a system to investigate claims of cyber bullying that would help police and school officials better ascertain the circumstances of each occurrence and prosecute or punish the culprits to the fullest extent of the law.

    Rhode Island
    The governor of Rhode Island is currently trying to pass a bill that would force repeat cyber bullying offenders to appear in family court, where they would be charged as delinquents under the terms of the state’s laws for young offenders.

    Vermont
    Vermont has added a $500 fine for cyber bullying offenses to their already stringent laws on the matter. There is currently a bill being discussed that would increase the reach of the school’s powers regarding cyber bullying when the action puts the individual’s ability to learn (or health and safety) at risk.

    May 29, 2009 at 8:29 pm |
  8. cat4everrr

    lawyermommy May 28th, 2009 8:18 pm ET

    Cat4everrr????

    I know nothing about that forum.

    You seem a little blase about it though. But to each his own.

    If you take such a laid back attitude you seem to be welcoming their advances and will appear to be one with these pathetic PREDATORS.
    Just a quick warning! If you deal with scum like online criminals… you cannot afford to be relaxed in dealing with them. Big mistake. But I guess from your post you are happy with the way things are!

    Laying over and posting in a blase way online in a lally dally way. WOW… that is not the right attitude. You seem to be cool with having vermin roll around in your life!

    Good luck with that! Let me know what they tell you about their jail bound pathetic lives.

    ----------–

    Please take a moment to read all of my comments. You will find that I have already reported it to the fbi cyber crimes unit https://complaint.ic3.gov. I am also in the process of taking legal action. I plan on hiring an e-discovery specialist and a lawyer who specializes in electronic forensics

    May 29, 2009 at 8:26 pm |
  9. Brian McCandliss

    "Lawyermommy–" I don't know what law school you attended, but civil remedies are perfectly viable if no criminal penalties are expected.
    Criminal prosecution for bullying is unlikely, not only because of societal trivializing of anything affecting children, but also because police and prosecutors tend to be bullies themselves since they are drawn to positions of power over others. They will rarely prosecute crimes commited by children against other children, unless death orserious injury results– otherwise, kids are on their own and are expected to fend for themselves: that's why bullies get this message that it's open-season on their victims, since they know that they won't get in any legal trouble for it. Police and prosecutors often abuse their discretion by doing nothing to stop the abuse.
    Civil suit, meanwhile, doesn't require going through the red tape of the criminal-justice system, and likewise offers many legal options that criminal laws don't such as Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, False Imprisonment, Defamation, Invasion of Privacy and other torts– including suing for any criminal violations committed (such as in this case, Conspiracy). As shown in Garrett v. Dailey, children can be sued for their actions, and wil be given no leniency by the court because of their youth.
    For these reasons, I say that suing bullies is the best way to go.

    May 29, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  10. Brian McCandliss

    Adam: sorry, but you're not a lawyer. Being "mean" is definitely against the law in many situations– particularly in school, if the school didn't act responsibly in their duty to protect their studdents. Parents should sue schools and bullies IMMEDIATELY if their child is bullied, and the school doesn't do enough to make it stop. That's what laws are for, and if you disagree then you'll have no problem in leaving it up to the law to come down on your side.
    People have rights– bullies don't..

    May 29, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  11. lawyermommy

    Suing them is only meaningful after a conviction. The first step is to hunt them down.

    Also, to refer to their acts as bullying (for adults) is to somehow ascribe strength–which they do not have– to pathetic lowlife cowards who hide behind a computer and commit heinous crimes.

    They commit online assaults. The proper description for Adults who commit such crimes is not bullies.. because they are not! Yuk. They were weak sociopaths, really.
    They are Low Life pathetic Miscreants. So online criminals, Miscreants or pathetic Reprobates might be a better term.

    Also, the main female culprit "Evia Moore" aka Halima Sal Andersen aka Shay Riley of the website "Black Female Interracial Marriage" has a lorry load of children. Hopefully, after she is convicted and jailed those children will be moved into a different location and maybe saved.

    *Sigh* truly sorry for those poor children and all children born to murderers, rapists, serial killers and child molesters.
    Horrible life. Truly awful.

    May 29, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  12. Chris H

    Be Strong you two. I am in high shcool and i know what it is like to be bullied. I once had a who eventually betrayed me and has bullied me since then. Those kids are not sorry for making the video. You have to make sure they are deepley punished so they won't do it again. Until that happens Piper is at risk unfortunately.

    May 29, 2009 at 10:18 am |
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