Do bullying videos do more harm than good? - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

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Do bullying videos do more harm than good?

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

It used to be that a bullying incident might involve a quick playground fight that a few people see and quickly forget about.

Not so anymore.

Nowadays, nearly every child has a smartphone and such an incident is bound to immediately make its way to YouTube or Facebook to be watched over and over again.

While some argue capturing bullies on video provides the evidence that will put a stop to their behavior, others believe it gives them exactly the attention they're looking for.

Two recent bullying cases caught on video have gained national attention. In one, two brothers were captured beating a special needs student. In the other, a 12-year-old girl was caught attacking a classmate as she stepped off a school bus.

FOX5 spoke with the mother of the victim in the latter case.

Suzan Joy had no idea her 12-year-old daughter was receiving threats from a classmate until a 28-second video clip of her child being attacked appeared on Facebook.

"It's what you call a curse turned into a blessing. The reason I say that is it was terrible to see but it will hopefully bring people to more awareness of how these kids are, what they do and what they are up to," Joy said.

Joy told FOX5 other children were bullied by the same girl but there was no evidence. She believes the video, and others like it, will help put a stop to bullying.

"A picture is worth a thousand words," she said. "It brings more awareness and hopefully it will help bring some preventative measures to stop it."

While Joy is thankful the incident was caught on tape, some experts say that despite not throwing any punches, bystanders who record and post fights are bullies too.

"They are saying 'now I'm going to use that to try and humiliate you, to hurt you, and I'm going to get empowered by doing this because I just put it out there,'" said Brandon Moeller with Clark County School District's (CCSD) Equity and Diversity Education Department.

Moeller believes the emotional fallout from a viral video is much more detrimental to a child than a one-time fight.

"When it becomes so big and so many kids know about it, they start teasing you or knocking you down about what they saw," he said. "You can imagine the emotional stress and how you must feel when you get knocked down like that. That's hard for a kid to handle. That's hard for an adult to handle."

Child psychiatrist Dr. Karen Cruey said not all victims may react to bullying videos the same way.

"I would give a No. 1 harm level to the physical assault and then a secondary potential level of harm - there are people who might slough it off and say, ‘Well, I know they videotaped that but I can live with that. They aren't hitting me in the video, at least. They aren't hitting me now,'" she said.

CCSD Police Officer Thomas Rainey said it's one thing if the person who captured a video brings it to the attention of police, but if not, he or she is just as culpable as the bullies.

"If someone is robbing a bank and you are driving the vehicle and they happen to get caught, you still get charged with bank robbery, even though you never went in the bank, you never showed a gun, you never did anything. You still get charged with that crime. It's kind of the same thing. You were there. You were videotaping it. You are still part of that crime," he said.

Rainey said that means if the person who videotapes the bullying doesn't do anything to stop the crime or help the victim, he or she could be charged with harassment or battery.

He also admits, however, it's new territory for police.

"Clark County School District police, we have to catch up. So what we are doing is, something new comes out, we have to catch up in laws," he said.

Meanwhile, Joy is pleading with parents to monitor their children's internet use.

"Who are they texting? What pictures are they sending? What videos? Why can't we have more parental control if these children are allowed to text, allowed to take videos?" she asked.

Joy's daughter is now being homeschooled. She said it's the only way to protect her child.

According to CCSD, 160,000 students a day skip school nationwide for fear of being bullied. Also, one in seven children drops out of school because of it.

CCSD police will hold a bullying forum for parents on March 8. They'll discuss bullying and technology.

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