Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bullied Emo faces possible trial for "Death List"

Massive panic in a school in the States when it is discovered that a bullied teen kept a diary in which he slagged off his tormentors. He dressed in black and even worse he had a MySpace page in which he mentioned his frustration at being bullied. Clearly a psycho... lucky the authorities caught him.

Yet he had no weapons, or any history of violence. I thought there was freedom of speech in the United States, but not if you are unlucky enough to be bullied, if you voice your frustrations and if you dress alternatively clearly you are likely to kill at any moment (See this previous story for a similar incident US Police target alternative teen):

Lockport Teen Creates High School Hit List | WKBW - TV Buffalo, New York | Local News:

A Lockport student is accused of coming up with a high school hit list and tonight the teen's friends are coming to his defense. School officials say a student from Lockport High kept what amounts to a diary of death. But tonight the student's friends say he's the victim of bullying and that he would never have acted out his chilling threats.

The graphic descriptions of death that we are told were outlined in this notebook would cause anyone to be concerned. The teen allegedly wrote of hangings, breaking ribs and choking off air to 40 of his peers. But friends of the student who created the so-called "hit list" say he is misunderstood. Heather Tschaepe said, "He wasn't really going to kill anyone or anything. He was just letting out his anger because everyone always picks on him. He was just letting out his anger by writing it in a book. He didn't mean for anyone to see it or anything."

Tschaepe and Emily Doctor are close friends with the teen who wrote the list. They say its been blown out of proportion by fellow students and school leaders. Doctor said, "He's not the kinda person who would actually do any of it. He wouldn't have to nerve to. Its just what he would hope to happen... but maybe not that bad."

However, when a student came forward and reported the notebook hit list, Lockport school officials reacted quickly to the potential threat. Superintendent Terry Anne Carbone said, "The student is not in school at this time and we will be conducting a thorough and complete investigation, appropriate consequences and support networks will be put into place."

Students tell 7 News that the teen started wearing black in the last year and mostly kept to himself. But his friends say he was just acting "emo" which is teen slang for acting emotional, and that he wore black to show that he was hurt and scared from being picked on. Doctor said, "People are really taking it the wrong way. Like if they really knew him, they would know he's not like that and they're just blowing it way out, calling him crazy and psychotic and he's just not. He just expresses differently."

His friends say he's in a hospital tonight, getting mental health treatment. Tschaepe said, "I just want them to stop picking on him because he gets emotional."

The teen's friends tell us that he wants to come back to school, but they don't think it will happen. Meanwhile, the Lockport Police Department is investigating this for the school district. A detective will hand over his findings to Superintendent Carbone who will make the ultimate decision on what will happen to this student. The Lockport police chief told 7 News its possible that this teen will be referred to family court.

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, NY - 12 Jan 2008
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Like any other high school, Lockport has its share of cliques and groups. Despite their differences, students say they generally co-exist peacefully.

Students had mixed reactions Friday to news that one of their own had compiled an alleged “death list” and had been removed from classes.Some said they felt safe, despite the details they were hearing. Some were clearly feeling scared. But few we spoke to felt that cliques had anything to do with the student’s alleged threats.

Nonetheless, the topic of the threats was foremost on the lips of students, parents and school personnel in conversations at LHS on Friday.

The furor began after school officials were tipped off to a notebook that allegedly contained a kind of “death list” with about 40 students on it. Sophomore Tim Ritiss said he felt “pretty confident” about his safety in school.

Jessica Palermo, a 10th grade student, said she didn’t know much about the student’s group of friends, but described him as “gothic.” The student’s friends were described as “just kind of out there.” Palermo added that some students did not take the threat seriously.

One student, who did not want his name used, said the student in question belonged to a group who were known as “emo.” It is a slang term describing someone who is emotional and introverted.

On the social networking Web site MySpace, the accused student, who lists his age as 15, does describe himself

as “emo.” The page, on which the student has more than 200 friends listed, includes references to cutting, or self-injury, and threats about people who make fun of “emos.” Also on his MySpace page, the boy wrote there are people he’d “love to kill.”

Sophomore Katie Schaunk said she can’t understand how someone could have so much anger at such a young age.

“He’s only like, 15. He must have come from a bad family,” she speculated. “He was only 15 years old, a freshman. How can you go through that much when you’re 15?” she asked.

Lockport High School resource officer Scot Snaith keeps a close eye on everyone walking the halls of the high school.

“They usually stay in their little groups,” he said. “Students with similar interests stay together. The jocks hang with the jocks, and so on. But we watch for anything that draws attention and find out if there’s a problem.”

In addition to the student athletes, groups at LHS include band members, drama participants — and a whole range of kids bound together by separate interests and kinships.

As the resource officer, Snaith is expected to have a relationship with students and teachers, address classes on crime prevention, investigate possible criminal activity within the school, advise the school on how to deal with law enforcement agencies and keep records relevant to his position.

But Snaith’s primary purpose is to help ensure the safety of students and staff.

Snaith “took immediate action with the school to investigate and intervene,” Wednesday when the notebook was found, a press release from the Lockport Police Department said.

“My presence in the hallways helps, they let me know if they see anything,” Snaith said. “I would rather check out 50 million reports that were wrong than to miss something.”

Lockport doesn’t try to break up the groups, but the resource officer’s strength in keeping the peace is in the daily contact he has with the students. Snaith said everything he hears is checked out.

Of course, there are confrontations from time to time, but that is expected, some students said.

“There’s always going to be fights,” said Damian Mavrak, a sophomore.

“You do see other groups pick on other groups — the more passive groups,” Snaith said. “But a lot of students are forward with me, and they let me know what’s going on. Communication is the most important thing.”

Snaith said there wasn’t any one group that causes more problems than the rest. All of the different groups in the student body are watched.

“We’ve had our share of problems from all of them,” he said. “We try and pinpoint if there is a problem.”

As to what happened at Lockport High School last week — and why — there’s no immediate answer.

“We’re investigating,” he said.

‘DEATH LIST’: Anger, emotions evident on MySpace
Niagara Gazette, NY - 11 Jan 2008
By April Amadon/amadona@gnnewspaper.com
Niagara Gazette

LOCKPORT — The LHS student who wrote a “death list” is being described as an energetic but quiet student who often dressed in dark clothing.

On the social networking Web site MySpace, the student, who lists his age as 15, describes himself as “emo,” a slang term used to describe a person who is emotional or introverted.

The page, on which the student has over 200 friends listed, includes reference to cutting, or self-injury, and threats about people who make fun of “emos.”

“Oh yes there are some people in this world that I would love to kill but they will not be listed, you know who you are, you are the people that I want to jump up and down and kill and throw (their) body in the (canal),” the student wrote. “I don’t need help my life is fine, I just want to be left alone.”

Freshman Thomas Felcher, 15, said he’s had French class with the student for years. He said the teen has recently begun to change his fashion style, but has otherwise stayed the same.

Felcher said when he first heard about the list, he thought it was just a story, because the student “usually writes stories like that.”

“I never knew that it was supposed to be a real list,” he said. “I didn’t think much of it.”

Lockport Police Chief Larry Eggert said he can’t speak specifically about the boy in this case, but in general, many teens may have a hard time adjusting to the new social structure in high school, while at the same time dealing with hormones, stress from schoolwork and possibly problems at home.

“We all know what those years were like. You throw in some other variables ... before you know it, it can blow up to a real problem,” he said. “If you let it fester, there may come a day where the kid might just say, ‘You know what? Now’s the time.’ ”

1 comment:

Brian said...

America has decided that safety is more important than freedom.