Young victims and their families are blamed after physical attacks

Criminal Justice

Young victims and their families are blamed after physical attacks

Jun 24, 2013, 06:17 pm CDT

In an ugly response to a pervasive problem of abusive treatment of children by other children, fellow teens and adults have blamed the victims of recent physical attacks and even entire communities have seemingly turned on the victims and their families.

In Elmwood, Ind., a pregnant 13-year-old who says she was raped by a 17-year-old neighbor with whom she had been friendly has been taunted and slurs have been painted on the garage of her family’s home, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Her mother tells the newspaper she is upset that the perpetrator, who is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday as a juvenile, has yet to spend a day in jail and may well get probation. He was convicted in May of molesting her daughter and two other victims, one of whom was 12.

In Norwood, Colo., the K-12 school principal was forced to resign by the public reaction to his complaint over a hazing incident. He has taken another job at a significant pay cut elsewhere. His 13-year-old son was bound with duct tape and sodomized with a pencil by upperclassmen participating in an out-of-town wrestling meet that the victim was assigned to videotape. Two of the three perpetrators were sons of the coach, who was also the president of the school board, Bloomberg reports.

Initially, the father of the victim went to the school district over the incident. Then, after the three attackers each got one-day in-school suspensions, he went to police in Denver, where the attack had occurred. That resulted in misdemeanor pleas, but no jail time—and a public backlash by the community. Other students wore T-shirts to school supporting the perpetrators and left disparaging messages on the lockers of the victim and his brother.

Such attacks are apparently on the upswing, according to law professor Susan Stuart of Valparaiso University, who has researched hazing lawsuits. Bloomberg says there were 40 incidents during the past year in which boys were sodomized with objects by their teammates, versus three a decade ago.

“This is right out of Lord of the Flies,” said Stuart, referring to the famous 1954 William Golding novel in which British schoolboys run wild on a deserted island after a plane crash when no adults are around to supervise them. “And nobody knows about it.”

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