Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bullycide - Iain Steele an American teen RIP

Teen bullying: Tormented boy's short life ends in suicide

Chicago Tribune - Gerry Smith - ‎Jun 30, 2009‎

The bullying seemed inescapable.

His family and friends say it followed Iain Steele from junior high to high school -- from hallways, where one tormentor shoved him into lockers, to cyberspace, where another posted a video on Facebook making fun of his taste for heavy metal music.

"At one point, [a bully] had told [Iain] he wished he would kill himself," said Matt Sikora, Iain's close friend.

Iain's parents know their son had other problems, but they believe the harassment contributed to a deepening depression that hospitalized the 15-year-old twice this year. On June 3, while his classmates were taking final exams, he went to the basement of his Western Springs home and hanged himself with a belt.

His death stunned the quiet suburb west of Chicago and unleashed an outpouring of support for his parents, William and Liz, who say greater attention should be paid to bullying and its connection to mental health.

"No kid should be afraid for himself to go to school," his father said. "It should be a safe environment where they can intellectually thrive. And he was, literally, just frightened to go to school, fearing what he would have to deal with on that day. And it was day after day."

A school spokeswoman said she did not believe Iain was bullied. Police are investigating the allegations.

Nearly 30 percent of American children are bullied or are bullies themselves, according to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center. Bullying can be physical, verbal or psychological and is repetitive, intentional and creates a perceived imbalance of power, said Dr. Joseph Wright, senior vice president at Children's National Medical Center in Washington.

This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics will for the first time include a section on bullying in its official policy statement on the pediatrician's role in preventing youth violence.

Wright, a lead author of the statement, said the decision to address the issue was due to a growing body of research over the last decade linking bullying to youth violence, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Last year, the Yale School of Medicine analyzed the link between childhood bullying and suicide in 37 studies from 13 countries, finding that both bullies and their victims were at high risk of contemplating suicide.

In March, the parents of a 17-year-old Ohio boy who committed suicide sued his school alleging their son was bullied. Instead of seeking compensation, they are asking the school to put in place an anti-bullying program and to recognize their son's death as a "bullicide."

'An easy target'

Iain Steele enjoyed riding his skateboard, his father said, but after hip surgery in 8th grade limited his mobility, he picked up the guitar and impressed an instructor with his musical talent.

He was revered by younger kids in the neighborhood, often fixing their skateboards, settling their disputes and including them in games. "He was a very gentle, kind kid, compassionate to a fault," his father said.

But Iain's embrace of heavy metal set him apart from classmates. He let his hair grow to shoulder-length and wore mostly black clothing, including jeans with chains and T-shirts of heavy metal bands with dark, sometimes morbid lyrics.

For this, his classmates at McClure Junior High School in Western Springs often called him "emo" -- a slang term for angst-ridden followers of a style of punk music, said Sikora, 15. The bullying could also be physical, Iain's friends and parents said. In 8th grade at McClure, one bully pushed Iain into a locker while he was on crutches and accused him of faking an injury to get out of gym class. But Iain rarely shied away from his tormentors, his father said, and in this case, Iain punched the bully in the jaw.
"He was mainly bullied," Sikora said, "only because he was different, or hurt or stupid things like that. He never bothered anybody. ... It was all just because he was different and an easy target."...

Iain's parents and friends say they do not know of any incidents that might have triggered what happened June 3, when his father found him in the basement. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. He did not leave a note.

Looking back, Iain's parents wonder what factors besides bullying may have contributed to their son's depression.

Iain's favorite heavy metal bands, such as Lamb of God, Children of Bodom and Bullet for My Valentine, often have lyrics with dark messages. One Bullet for My Valentine song is about being bullied, and another song contains the refrain: "The only way out is to die."

Also, Iain was deeply hurt this spring after a brief relationship with a girl he met in his outpatient program. The two exchanged text messages, but her parents and therapists advised against them dating and about two months ago barred her from having communication with him.

Still, Iain's parents remain convinced bullying played a significant role in their son's depression. As Iain's story spread through the community, many people approached Liz Steele to describe their own experiences with bullying, depression or suicide, she said.

"A lot of people don't want to talk about mental health or bullying because it's a difficult thing to talk about, but we need to talk about it," she said. "It shouldn't be a stigma."

School works towards creating mutual respect amongst children

Rawtenstall school celebrates winning award for 'defending rights ...

Lancashire Telegraph - Alex Willmott - ‎2 hours ago‎
The school is now working towards the second stage of the RRSA and will be linking with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation as part of future work.

Glasgow crackdown on teens

Glasgow never gets bored of moving its alternative teens around:

Cops crack down on youths going off the rails at Central

Glasgow Evening Times - Caroline Wilson - ‎Jun 19, 2009‎

YOUTHS loitering in large groups at Glasgow's Central station have been warned they will be forcibly removed by police.

Network Rail and British Transport Police are launching a crackdown at Scotland's busiest railway station after a spate of incidents of serious anti-social behaviour at weekends - including attacks on staff.

Police warned that any groups caught loitering on the station concourse will be broken up and moved on using legal dispersal powers.

The station has become a meeting point for groups of up to 250 young people, mostly black-clad goth teenagers, throughout Saturdays and Sundays.

Police say the problem has led to several incidents of staff being verbal and physically abused and damage to station property.

Rail bosses say the crowds are also intimidating passengers and causing congestion in the concourse at exits and entrances.

Under railway bylaws, Network Rail and police have the power to disperse any group loitering on station property without an intention to travel or use the shops.

David Simpson, Network Rail's route director for Scotland, said: "The safety and well-being of station users is our paramount consideration.

"We will remove any group whose behaviour or presence is deemed inappropriate to the station environment or a risk to the travelling public.

"While we would prefer not to have to use our legal powers, we have been left with little option but to do so, due to the increasing numbers of people and their bad behaviour.

"We are not targeting any one age group, or social group, and will apply our legal rights to anyone loitering without a proper purpose or acting in an intimidating or inappropriate manner."

Some of the comments on the article make interesting reading:

Yes, the concourse gets packed with kids at the weekend, with lots of Goths/emo types, but I always found them to be the complete opposite of neds.

Sure it gets crowded and its clear its a meeting point for them, but they aren't the least bit intimidating and I've never seen any anti-social behaviour.

I doubt that it's this group that are responsible for the anti-social behaviour and crime and its a shame that they get tarred with this brush through a blanket ban.

Even though I often had to swerve round them and their gawkiness, skin conditions, rather unflattering cut of their trousers and exaggerated show-off cameraderie makes me glad my teenage years are behind me, I shall miss them.

It's mainly adults, often middle aged, that I see weaving around, arguing with each other and completely drunk.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Police concern about "chav" vs alternative teens violence in Wigan

Once again a park in Lancashire is a scene for more conflict. No solid details but basicaly shows the trend:

Police bid to curb park gang violence
Wigan Today - ‎Jun 3, 2009‎
Source: Wigan Evening Post

Published Date: 03 June 2009 Gang violence has prompted a summer crackdown at a
Wigan park.Police say there has been a worrying increase in assaults at Mesnes
Park since the evenings became warmer and lighter and often involve different

Youths belonging to different social groups such as "chavs," "moshers," and "emos" have been involved in a number of incidents in recent weeks. This has not only caused concern for the individuals caught up in the violence but also the safety of innocent by-standers and the reputation of the park which is about to undergo a major upgrade.

Mounted police have been brought in to patrol the Victorian park as part of what will be a whole raft of high profile measures over the summer months.
One officer, who had been called up from the mounted police centre at Hough End, Manchester, said: "We are here because there have been a lot of assaults in the park just recently involving youths belonging to different groups such as chavs and emos.

"The hot weather, light evenings and alcohol have all contributed to the trouble and
we are here to deter further trouble." A Wigan Police spokesman said: "This is
the start of a summer operation which we will be running in Mesnes Park with our
partners over the summer.
"It is an effort to tackle anti-social behaviour and violent crime that has been committed there in recent weeks. Since the evenings got lighter there have been a number of incidents, mainly assaults.

"Various youth factions seem to be involved and alcohol is undoubtedly a
factor too. We are stepping up patrols both to prevent further crimes."
He said that further measures for the summer campaign would be announced soon.

Thugs who tortured Leeds metalers/goths jailed

The gang that cut off the ear of Paul Gibbs were jailed. Original reports on case here:
The full details make grim reading what makes these crimes even more sickening is the atmosphere of brutal calculation, and the way the criminals lulled their victims into a false sense of security. Paul Gibbs and his friends were sadly too trusting that other people were as friendly as they were. Mere robbery was not enough the thugs had to use brutal violence as well. As this report makes clear it might have ended in murder:

Bully boys terrorised Goths in park
Yorkshire Post - ‎Jun 5, 2009‎

Published Date: 05 June 2009
By Olwen Dudgeon

A MAN was savagely beaten and had his ear cut off while three others were
injured in a horrific night of violence when a gang of "bully boys" decided to
rob Goths camping in a park.

Andrew Hall, Ryan Woodhead and Quinn Colley, who described themselves as "Chavs", hatched a plan to attack a group celebrating a teenager's birthday in Rothwell Country Park, Leeds, with a barbecue last August. Hall, Woodhead and Colley had spent the day drinking and had already demonstrated "vitriolic hostility" to the "Emos" or "Moshers" known for their dark clothing and make-up, Richard Wright, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday. When they first saw the Goths arriving, Hall, with the others as pillion passengers, drove his scooter at them and shouted abuse. They then hatched their plan to assault and rob them.Mr Wright said the three turned up pretending to be peaceful. They drank beer with the group and Hall took people to buy cigarettes and alcohol on his scooter. He even apologised for the earlier incident.

Having gained the trust of their victims, they then offered to take Paul Gibbs, the oldest and notional leader to get more beer.Once away from the others, Hall stopped his scooter and Colley and Woodhead launched a savage attack on Mr Gibbs, who was repeatedly punched and kicked until he lost consciousness and could only remember waking in hospital.He had suffered a severe head injury, and for a time was in a coma, spending weeks in hospital. Before he was found by police that night in "a barbaric twist" he also had his left ear severed with a knife. Both attackers deny responsibility.Doctors hope to re-attach it later this year.

Mr Wright said that some of the other Goths went looking for Mr Gibbs. Hall then offered another one a lift. Once again, Hall attacked him and searched his pockets before leaving the area.Meanwhile, Colley and Woodhead attacked two others. One youth was punched and kicked unconsciousness, waking up only several days later in Leeds General Infirmary, while the second was kicked in the face suffering a bloody nose.They robbed two girls before following them back to the campsite to continue the terror.Colley, already on bail for an attack in the same park when he fractured a youth's jaw, said he had been told by "his boss" to kill them, but let them go. Hall, 22, of Sixth Avenue, Rothwell, Leeds, who admitted conspiracy to rob and grievous
bodily harm to Mr Gibbs, was given an indeterminate prison sentence and must
serve a minimum of four-and-a-half years.

Woodhead, 18, Seventh Avenue, Rothwell, and Colley, 18, of Wordsworth Drive, Oulton, both Leeds, each admitted conspiracy to rob and grievous bodily harm with intent and were given indeterminate sentences to serve a minimum of two years, 210 days.Colley also admitted grievous bodily harm in July. Judge James Spencer QC described them as a "bunch of bully boys" who would only be released when they were considered no longer a danger to the public.

Alicia Thompson who organised the goth march in Sheffield and other places last year was interviewed on the case on BBC Look North and made some good points and adds more details about the aftermath of the robbery and the blood soaked scene.

You can see the video via the facebook page :

Here is the group Eternal Souls of Twilight she organises on facebook:

In theory if those sentencing guidelines that Jack Straw agreed to recently with the SOPHIE group were in place already this group may have had longer sentences. Although that would be more satisfactory for the victims and everyone else it will not solve the problem it is sad to reflect.

Do longer sentences actual deter the people capable of this kind of oportunistic savagery? If you look at the details of the crime the thugs were obviously going to get caught as they had been alongside their victims long enough to provide loads of witnesses and they were well known in the area. We are not exactly talking criminal masterminds it seems their feelings of preudice and hate turned a robbery of a bunch of teenagers for a few bits of cash into acts of sadistic hate-ridden violence which were far more serious and ensured the police put in a big effort to catch them. Yet the amount of effort the scum put into creating the situation where they could isolate and beat their victims shows a kind of brutal cunning which is worrying. It really is like something out of a horror film.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

New updates

Had problems updating this blog for technical reasons. But have now loaded a bunch of updates for the last 6 months or so.

Emo Panic hits Egypt

The latest country to be worried about Emos is Egypt.

Egypt's emos, the latest hate figures

  • guardian.co.uk, Wednesday May 6 2009
  • Jack Shenker

Just to clarify, that's emo as in ludicrously tight T-shirts, dyed-black fringes, studded belts and thick horn-rimmed glasses, confessional slash-yourself music and a lingering sense of narcissistic self-hatred. In Egypt.

The exposure of the graffiti's true creators did nothing to curb the collective panic now seizing the opinion columns and chat shows of the Arab world's largest country. In fact if anything, it intensified; men with long beards and explosive belts are one thing, but teenagers who listen to My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy in their bedrooms while squeezing into skinny jeans are quite another. True, police now had these particular Banksy-wannabes under lock and key, but how many more were out there and what did they want from us?

Up to 10,000 Egyptians were members of emo-related Facebook groups, we were informed; all were adherents to a western cult which glorified homosexuality and threatened to undermine Islam. Discerning readers were offered tips for identifying emos: they were "driven by punk and emotion", wore "guyliner" and "manscarer" and were to be found "loitering in streets ... often dismal and in tears".

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Triumph - Changes in Hate Crime guidelines to be made

Efforts of the Sophie Campaign have finally paid off. It looks like there will be no changes in the law at the moment BUT more importantly it looks like there will be alterations in the sentencing guidelines which means judges can use prejudice against alternative subcultures as a reason to increase sentences.

BBC News - Lancashire - Plea to Straw over Goth's death . Last updated: 6 May 2009

The BBC report features video of Straw talking about the legal situation.

The Daily Mirror (London); May 8, 2009; PATRICK MULCHRONE; p. 25

THE mum of a murdered goth girl has won a landmark victory in her fight for Sophie's Law Sophie Lancaster, 20, was kicked
to death by a gang in 2007 because of the way she dressed. Mum Sylvia wants
attacks on people in subcultures classed as hate crimes so judges can give
tougher penalties.

She took her fight to Justice Minister Jack Straw, who said he could not
alter the law but proposed changes to sentencing guidelines. Mr Straw said:
"Greater attention has to be paid to hate crimes against people in an
alternative culture like goths." The plans could see sentences extended by up to
two years.

Mrs Lancaster
said: "We want Jack Straw to bring the hate crime legislation into the 21st
century, and recognise that a high proportion of people that dress differently
often face attack and abuse." Ryan Herbert and Brendan Harris got life last
March for murdering Sophie in Bacup, Lancs,
in August 2007.

Herbert, 16, must serve a minimum of 15 years six months. Harris, 15, at
least 18..

Sophie Lancaster's mum set to win tougher sentences for hate crimes

8:40am Thursday 7 May 2009

A MUM is set to win her battle for the creation of ‘Sophie’s Law’ in memory of her murdered daughter...

Senior judges and police officers will be consulted by the government on the proposed changes before they are adopted. They will allow judges to issue greater sentences in crimes where they victim is from a sub culture.

This could range from months extra to years, depending on the crime.

Mr Straw said he did not think it was right to change the law, but that sentencing guidelines were what would have to be altered.

Some of the other coverage took a different spin on the meeting though. However you look at it is a massive success as long as it goes through.

Mum vows to fight on in battle to change hate-crime laws

Published: 07/05/2009

THE mother of a young woman murdered because she dressed like a Goth said yesterday she was disappointed that the government had no plans to change its hate-crime legislation.

Sylvia Lancaster, whose 20-year-old daughter, Sophie, was kicked to death because she looked like a Goth, wants the government to recognise that a high proportion of people who dress differently often face attack and abuse.

Yesterday she told Justice Secretary Jack Straw that the hate-crime legislation needed to be brought “into the 21st century”, but Mr Straw insisted the law did not need to be changed.

Mrs Lancaster, of Rawtenstall, Lancashire, said that while it was a positive meeting, she was disappointed and would continue her campaign. She said Mr Straw told her that instead of changing legislation, he wanted to do more to make sure the police were aware of the prejudice faced by alternative sub-cultures.

Mrs Lancaster said: “We went into the meeting hoping that we would get the hate-crime legislation changed to include all sub- cultures.

“What happened was Mr Straw changed the agenda, if you will. Rather than change the legislation, he’s talking about looking at the process that the police go through and the CPS.”

Later Mr Straw said: “I have a great deal of sympathy for Mrs Lancaster and I was grateful for the opportunity to hear her concerns today. “We need to tackle crimes such as these and prevent them happening if possible.”

Mrs Lancaster’s daughter was kicked repeatedly in the head after a drunken gang of teenagers turned on her and her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, in a park in Bacup, Lancashire, in August 2007.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Exhibition on subcultures

Expert denies subcultures exist in UK any more.

Is manipulation by the media killing British youth culture?
Independent - Apr 20, 2009
The media has got excited about emos in the last few years," says Polhemus, ... "People say 'You've got to have a big section on emos', but are there really

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Russian Neo Nazis step up attacks

Interesting article on the grim world of Russian Neo-Nazis who besides the obvious racial and homophobic targets pick out subcultures for violence too as we have seen before:

Neo-Nazis ever more active, society stays passive - analysts
ИТАР-ТАСС - ИТАР-ТАСС (подписка) - Apr 1, 2009

Last year was one of the most eventful ones in terms of the manifestations of radical nationalism and resistance to it by the state and society, SOVA said in its report. The number of victims of racism and xenophobia-fuelled violence last year totaled at least 525, of whom 97 died. (In contrast to this in 2007 85 were killed and 605 others injured).

In all, 2008 racist and neo-Nazi attacks were registered in 44 regions of Russia, but most of them were in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as before.

The main victims of xenophobic aggression were Central Asia and Caucasus-born nationals. However, not a single individual of non-Slavic appearance is secure from racists' attacks. The same applies to the representatives of left-wing youth movements and subcultures alternative to the neo-Nazis (the Punks, the Emos and the Goths), whom the neo-Nazis regard as "traitors of the white race and its ideas."

The neo-Nazis' terrorist practices have been expanding. Last year saw at least ten explosions or attempts to blow up makeshift bombs in Moscow and the Moscow Region, in which neo-Nazis are suspected to have been involved.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bullying of goth "Vampires"

Vampire rumors prompt Boston Latin alert - about bullying - The...
Boston Globe - Mar 27, 2009

Two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the incident said a group of girls at the school had been bullying at least one other student who likes to dress in Goth-style, a vampirish look popularized by musician Marilyn Manson. The officials said the girls began spreading a rumor that the student was a vampire who had cut someone's neck and sucked the blood.

When Boston police went to the school Wednesday on an unrelated matter, their presence fueled yet another rumor: that a vampire was being arrested, according to one of the law enforcement sources.

Australia goth scene

Evolving Gothic culture still a lure in Brisbane
NEWS.com.au - Mar 25, 2009

While the clubs come and go – Warman was recently out of action for three months while he found a new venue – one thing that hasn't changed is the placid nature of the crowd.

"In 27 years, we've never had any trouble, never had the police called out," he says. "They're a polite, gentle crowd. But they can bitch a bit."