A black boy at Blake Academy in Florida, U.S., was reportedly beaten up in a boys’ locker room as his fellow middle school students watched and videotaped the incident.
The video of the attack has been shared widely on social media. In the video, a white kid is seen kicking, punching and slamming to the ground the black boy.
Capt. Steven Pacheco of the Lakeland Police Department said the attack started after words were exchanged between the boys in the locker room. The student, who appeared to strike the victim in the video, is under investigation for simple battery and has been suspended for 10 days.
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Others who were seen in the video holding the victim and the students who videotaped the incident also face school discipline. A teacher, who should have had an eye on the students, is under administrative investigation, Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said at a news conference while condemning the attack.
“Those are things that should never ever happen on our campus, never. Our children come to school to learn.” “We’re here as a joint force to make sure that we ensure that safety is first foremost, so they can learn, so we apologize for what happened.”
“And I will tell you that the teachers are supposed to be ensuring that all the students are safe when they’re in their care.” “And we are investigating that teacher, and discipline will follow in that as well.”
The incident drew widespread attention after the victim’s mother, Lauren Springfield, posted a video of the assault on Facebook. The video logged more than 6,000 views before it was taken down, according to NBC News affiliate WFLA in Tampa, Florida.
The victim’s mother, Springfield, believes that the school administrators did not respond appropriately to the incident because her child is African-American and the alleged perpetrator is white.
In her Facebook post, Springfield wrote: “What is our world coming to?” “I have asked the school administrators what will happen to the other children involved.” “Would you like to know their response? We can’t tell you!”
“I can guarantee you had this been a group of black students on a lone white student, we would be having a completely different conversation,” “I am disheartened, I am tired, scared for my son and completely enraged.”
“As one student repeatedly hit him over and over again, others not only held my son down so that the student could hit him but encouraged the attack,” Springfield said on Facebook. “I am enraged.”
In a police video of the news conference, a man believed to be a reporter can be heard saying: “Kids are going to be kids. Going forward, how do you prevent something like this from happening? How do you protect children? I mean, kids are always going to be kids.”
Lakeland Police Capt. Steven Pacheco replied that that’s why the district has school resource officers in place to teach students that “actions have consequences and to do the right thing.”
The recent incident started when a student took something a peer said “to heart and acted upon it,” Pacheco said.
Springfield who is a community health manager at Lakeland Regional Health, criticized school administrators for failing to immediately contact her after the fight. She said in her Facebook post that the school nurse was the first official to call her but could not give any details.
“I immediately left my office and went to the school – not one school administrator contacted me on the way to the school,” “I got to the school to find a welt on my son’s forehead and back of head, a cut above his eye brow and bruising all around his eye.”
“At the time we didn’t think it was any more than a scuffle and still due to his injuries we decided to press charges on the boy”. “At this time we had no clue others were involved. until later last night when we received videos from the parent of a high school student [our son is in middle school],” Springfield said.
Springfield said the attack lasted “well over 3 minutes with no adult supervision or intervention.” She said a parent is “entitled to know how the school system plans to protect our child” and the nature of the attack.
“This could have ended much differently,” she said. “Our child has one kidney and after getting kneed several times this could have resulted in permanent damage.”
Reports said she tried to get a restraining order in the incident, but Polk County Judge Kelly Butz rejected the request “because the attack did not happen multiple times.”
“It only takes one hit for a child to die.” “How many more times would you like this to happen to our child or any other child?” Springfield asked.