CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. – Three local teenagers were charged with a crime for sharing a video of a fight that happened at their school, each being accused of cyberbullying.
The video was taken in the bathroom of Burns High School in Cleveland County. Police said it started as a “play fight” that escalated into a violent attack.
When Cleveland County deputies saw the video, which is supposed to be teens simply roughhousing, there was nothing playful about it.
“When we see this cruelty online, we have to step up and step in and start saying, ‘hey, this isn’t right,’” said Sue Scheff, author of “Shame Nation.”
Officials countered by handing down an assault charge against a 15-year-old. The teen, along with three others, ages 14 and 15, was also charged with cyberbullying.
The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement, saying in part:
“When people take video of a criminal act…just to torment them or cause a social media spectacle, there has to be consequences.”
Earlier this year, NBC Charlotte did a special story on bullying, interviewing a group of kids aged 10-16 from eight different schools. Here’s what was uncovered after speaking with the kids.
“They created a whole other Instagram account to hate on me,” said Mila.
“I’ve been called fat, ugly, just these other one-liners,” said another student.
“This one girl, she kept saying these racist jokes to me,” said Aubrianna.
A recent study showed that 70 percent of kids 12-17 say they have seen it happen. Another study found that elementary students who own cell phones are more likely to be cyberbullied, with third and fourth graders with phones having the highest risk of being bullied online.
“Anytime that a teen can get behind a screen and say what they think opens the avenue to cyberbullying,” said Genevieve Holmes with Families Managing Media.