Maggie: Two months ago, fourteen-year-old Aria Jewett was attacked by a classmate just outside Oceanway Middle School in Jacksonville, Florida.
Aria Jewett: So, like, I didn’t even know it was coming.
Maggie: This cell phone video of the assault is hard to watch. Her attacker, another eighth-grader, hit her repeatedly. Aria thinks there were about thirty kids watching.
Aria: Because she had everyone else, like, videotape it. She had the girl bring me over there. So, she probably had this planned.
Maggie: Aria suffered a fractured skull. Her attacker was arrested for aggravated assault and removed permanently from the school.
Aria says her attacker videotaped at least five other assaults, some on school grounds.
Aria: And, like, she never got expelled.
Maggie: One in four teens is bullied. And in those cases, 80% of the time it ends in a physical fight. Experts say videotaping those attacks is becoming a trend. And students across the country have been caught videotaping and posting those fights to the internet.
Aria’s family asked Florida Circuit Judge Henry Davis to protect their daughter but his ruling about the attacker surprised even them: “This child is a threat to all of the children at any school. The injunction is a permanent injunction barring this child from returning to any public school in Duval County.” The school district’s superintendent says the judge’s ruling went too far.
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti: I don’t think we should use the bad decisions children make outside of schools as an example or a scapegoat to make a message.
Maggie: Nikolai Vitti says public education is a constitutional right. He says all students deserve second – even third – chances.
Vitti: And I believe that the perpetrator should be provided the same opportunity. It’s a tough decision but my role as superintendent is to support the law and enforce the law.
Maggie: While Aria’s attacker will not be allowed back at her school, an appeals court judge did overrule the ban preventing her from attending any public school in the district. And a lawyer for the attacker told me she started at a different school this week.
Scott, back to you.
- What do you think of the decisions that were made about Aria Jewett’s attacker?
- How do you think the fate of a violent teen bully should be decided?