The assault on a student at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, SC caused a media firestorm within hours of videos posted by classmates went viral. In recent years, social media has the power to force the mainstream to pay attention to injustice.
According to Shaun King of the New York Times, the 16-year-old victim recently lost her mother and is living at a foster home. Given this information, it begs the question of whether or not the system fails to be sensitive to the needs of students during hardship. It is possible to acknowledge the fact that she didn’t do what she was told, but also feel that perhaps the staff escalated a non-issue from a “quiet student who never bothers anyone in class,” as described by her classmate. Most teenage students have cell phones and sneak a look at them from time to time in class. It doesn’t make it right, but it shouldn’t be considered an offense that can result in criminal charges.
As adults, we all understand the importance of teaching our children to respect their teachers and administrators. However, in this case, you have to wonder whether or not the teacher and administrator in the classroom deserved her respect! Not only did they stand by and watch her be assaulted, they told the Sheriff’s Department that they support the actions of the officer that assaulted her.
From the two public interviews of her classmates thus far, the audio on the videos, and the facts given by Sheriff Lott, we can draw the following assumptions:
- Class started around 10:30 am
- The assault took place around 11:00 am
- The students were working on an assignment on their Chromebooks (laptops)
- The victim was caught with her phone out
- The victim put the phone away and then was apologetic
- The victim refused to turn her phone over to the teacher
- The teacher then asked her to leave the classroom and she refused
- The administrator also asked her to leave the classroom and she refused
- The victim was sitting quietly when Deputy Fields entered the classroom
- Deputy Fields asked her to get up and she refused
- Deputy Fields then said, “I was fair to you last year, wasn’t I?”
- The victim replied, “I don’t even know who you are.”
- At that point, the assault took place
- One video shows that the victim reached towards the officer at the moment that he had his hand around her neck to flip the chair over
- The victim suffered injuries on her face, neck and arm
Knowing the victim recently lost her mother and with presumably 15-20 minutes of class time left, couldn’t the teacher just allow her to sit quietly until class was over and then refer her to the office for discipline, if necessary? Perhaps refer her to the school counselor to get to the bottom of her behavior and follow-up on her grief process?
If a parent was caught on tape with the same assault, they would be accused of child abuse and lose custody. If a video surfaced of a pet being thrown across the room for peeing on a carpet, more compassion would be shown by the same naysayers who say that she deserved to be assaulted. To all who have voiced that opinion, shame on you! No woman EVER deserves to be treated that way.
Although Deputy Fields has been fired, criminal charges still remain for the victim and Niya Kenny, the student that stood up for her. While the FBI investigates the case, no criminal charges have been brought against the officer.
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