She lived every 15-year-old girl’s nightmare. Two Ferris High School boys created a business card and put the girl’s name and phone number on it, along with a computer-generated color picture of the lower half of a woman’s naked body. The card included an offer of a sexual act and these words: “She hates the word no!”
The cards were distributed at school and beyond. The girl’s family received obscene phone calls from as far away as Deer Park and Cheney. The cards were distributed last April and only recently did the girl receive written apologies from the boys.
The shame of the incident is that it took so long to be resolved. Harassment of this kind should be dealt with firmly - as soon as it happens.
When the incident was first reported, an assistant principal gave the boys a warning and told the girl’s family that the school didn’t plan any further action. Wisely, the family appealed the decision to the district, which investigated, although the investigation took months.
Finally, the boys were told to serve 10 hours of community service and write a letter of apology. One did the service and the other chose a five-day suspension instead.
The district now has an updated harassment policy that we hope will prevent further delays like this one in the future. Quick action mitigates the psychic damage and humiliation experienced by victims and their families. It sends a strong message to the boys - and girls - who harass others that the behavior is not tolerated.
Studies show that adults need to intervene immediately in bullying and harassment. Being bullied and handling it by themselves does not build the character of children, as was once thought.
Bullying behavior is not something young people simply outgrow. Today’s bully often evolves into tomorrow’s spouse beater and workplace sexual harasser. That’s why speedy intervention is crucial.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi/For the editorial board