NEW YORK — After three alleged sex assaults at three separate city schools resulted in what attorney Carrie Goldberg calls victim suspensions, she suspected a systemic problem.
“By the third case it was very clear to me that this was a pattern and a practice of the New York City Department of Education and that they discriminate against victims of sexual assault,” she said.
Goldberg represents the families of all three victims, who are between 13 and 15 years old.
She’s claiming that the students were victimized a second time by the actions or inaction of school officials.
“Students have a constitutional right to education. So if somebody is told to stay home than that’s a punishment in and of itself,” Goldberg said.
All the alleged school sex attacks happened in Brooklyn – in an alley near Spring Creek Community School in East New York, inside Teacher Preparatory High School in Brownsville and at M.S. 584 on the border of Crown Heights.
Goldberg described the victims as young, black girls from low income families. One is a special needs student who was allegedly lured into a school stairwell by seven boys.
In another case, she said school administrators failed to stop a video of the sexual attack from being shared across social media.
“The child pornography was just allowed to spiral out of control,” Goldberg said.
An alleged case of extreme bullying not in plain sight, but on websites.
“She’s too young for these websites, number one,” said Carline Joazard, a parent with strict rules about her daughter’s online activity. “I don’t want her on these social websites. And I don’t allow her to have the phone, other than when she’s on the bus so I know where to pick her up.”
New York City Department of Education officials are looking into the allegations. A spokeswoman called them “deeply troubling” and went on to say: “Nothing is more important than the safety of all students and staff.”
Goldberg is calling for a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education into the handling of sex assault cases by New York City schools.
Whether or not the allegations are true, cyberbullying is a very serious and potentially harmful issue. But how do you know if your child is being bullied?
Your child may be the victim of cyberbullying if he or she:
o Becomes sad, angry, or distressed during or after using the Internet or cell phone.
o Appears anxious when receiving a text, IM, or email.
o Avoids discussions or is secretive about computer or cell phone activities.
o Withdraws from family, friends, and activities they previously enjoyed.
o Suffers an unexplained drop in grades.
o Refuses to go to school or to specific classes, or avoids group activities.
o Shows changes in mood, behavior, sleep, appetite, or shows signs of depression or anxiety.
Tips for Parents and Teens on How to Beat a Cyberbully
Teens spend hours on their phones and computers socializing. But sometimes those exchanges can turn ugly, even criminal. In the case of a cyberbullying, there are things you can do to stop the attacks. Here are some tips curated from the National Crime Prevention Council and other sources.
Who is a cyberbully?
A cyberbully is someone who is uses technology to hurt or embarrass someone. This can come in the form of mean posts to your profile, rude or explicit comments on your pictures, menacing text messages or even the sharing of sexually explicit videos or photos of a person with others.
Smart phones and social media often offer the option to block unwanted comments, texts or calls. On Facebook, you can block the person entirely from even seeing your profile.
Save the cyberbully’s emails, texts or messages. Keeping a record of the harassment could help school investigators or police if things escalate.
Tell an adult.
A parent or school counselor may be able to help. Talk to someone you trust. There may even be a way to report the incident anonymously at school. Many schools have developed policies for online behavior inside and out of the classroom.
Parents are encouraged to ask your kids where they go and who they talk to online. If there is cause for concern, parental control settings and software may be right for you. Warn your kids about the dangers of cyberbullying and how to handle it. Encourage them to talk to you if them or someone they know is being cyberbullied.
Facebook and YouTube accept complaints about cyberbullying. In many cases, social media sites will remove the threatening content.
Don’t become the bully.
By retaliating or harassing the bully back, the initial perpetrator may be able to use your messages or comments against you. Plus, it may only proliferate the hate. It’s never a good idea to sink to the level of the bully.