A sense of power to say these things to people

Something that happened last October, in Staten Island.

A teenage girl who friends say was bullied at school committed suicide by jumping in front of an oncoming train in front of other students Wednesday afternoon.

Why was she bullied? Well, you see, there was this party, and at the party she had sex with four guys on the football team. The four guys of course punished her for having sex with them by trashing her at school. What else would they do?

The day before the fatal plunge, the sophomore posted one last cry for help on Twitter, saying “I can’t, I’m done, I give up.”

Briana Torres says just a few days ago, Felicia broke down in tears, told her rumors were spreading at school and online.

“She told me how a few football players were tormenting her.  They were making fun of her, inappropriate things,” Torres said.

Police are investigating, talking with students.

“The ability to be anonymous on the internet gives people a sense of power to say these things to people because they’re hiding behind a keyboard,” said Polina Feldbein, a student.

And once they are hiding behind a keyboard, what could be more fun than to torment someone?


  1. maddog1129 says

    Michael Josephson, of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, used to have a commentary broadcast on the local news radio, a “Character Counts” moment to ponder during the day. One thing he remarked often, to help people think about their conduct, was “would you do it if it were on television?” IOW, doing things privately or semi-privately seems to give people more license than they would take if they knew it was going to be broadcast (or if their mother knew they were doing it). I am no longer sure that people can be tempered or cautioned by “would you do it if it were on television?” inasmuch as phone cameras and you-tube videos and other media are so ubiquitous, that people are becoming desensitized to what is on television. Ordinary broadcast programs have also sunk lower and lower as to what people are willing to do on TV — cheat, lie, disparage, and outright assault. Some people can no longer be shamed. It’s discouraging and frightening at the same time.

  2. says

    I straight up cannot believe how hard it is to be a teen girl right now. I’m thinking back on my Jr. High and High School days (only 10-15 years ago) and the amount of bullying I had to deal with. I was a fat, geeky lesbian with absolutely zero social skills, so, yeah, I had to deal with a lot, enough that I ended up going into independent study to finish up because I couldn’t handle going to school one more minute. But I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been if I had to deal with cyber bullying, as well. At least when I got home, I was safe. They couldn’t get to me after school. All of the torture would have been magnified…instead of “just” taking all of my clothes when I was naked after gym class (ha-ha! the fat girl doesn’t have any clothes! and let’s all make barfing noises and loudly complain that we have to look at her now that all her clothes are gone!), if that happened now, everyone would have a smartphone to take pictures and instantly upload them onto the internet or share them around the school. Jesus, I am not surprised so many kids attempt suicide. I was suicidal at 16, and I wasn’t dealing with near what some of these kids have to handle today.

    When I have kids, I know that I’m going to be tempted to just pre-preemptively homeschool them (hey, for the most part, I loved being homeschooled). I won’t, because I do think socialization is important and it’s best to learn from a wide variety of people; however, if my kid came to me and said, “Mom, I can’t take it anymore, I can’t handle what they’re doing to me,” I would have no problem taking them out either homeschooling or finding alternative education. Because I know very well that trying to mediate between the students or get the administration to stop bullying doesn’t work.

  3. theoreticalgrrrl says

    But silly American girls like me are overreacting when we say toxic sexism and misogyny still exist in The West, as well as all over the fucking planet . I mean, we Western women do have it a lot better, it’s not like people are threatening to rape us for not knowing our place or threatening to throw acid in our faces. Oh, wait…

  4. mouse says

    I’m so worried for my two young teen nieces. Dog willing, this sort of behavior will be completely marginalized and condemned before my toddler son gets to the age where he might be inclined to act like these football assholes.

  5. hypatiasdaughter says

    #2 EEB
    I home schooled my son through junior high because he was bullied. Two kids pushed him into a wall and stood there harassing him, he finally pushed them away and got suspended for two weeks for “fighting”. When I asked what had happened to the two boys, i.e. did they get suspended too, I was told that they couldn’t tell me for “privacy reasons”. Fucked up, eh?

  6. athyco says

    That poor girl.

    hypatiasdaughter, I was never angrier at my school than when the bullied were suspended for trying to get out of being bullied, especially when the bullies strategized one way or another to make that weak “Just Walk Away” rule impossible without physical contact to fall under the “But You Put Your Hands On Student X.

    My son was suspended for three days for pushing a bully away. With the principal sermonizing, “No matter what he said or how close he got, you could have just walked away. You chose to put your hands on him.” And since the “hands” rule was so cut and dried to the administration, it didn’t even dawn on him to ask, “Why didn’t you just walk away?” to get the answer “He was standing on my feet.”

    For some reason, there are administrators who simplify their lives with lazy adherence to The Rules, stupid enough to think that bullies must be just as stupid as they not to find the work-arounds. I worked under six principals in my career, and there were two who understood that without the bullying, there’d be fewer fights, fewer cut classes, fewer absentees, fewer tear-soaked faces in the counselor’s office. One actually said to me that if he wrote up disciplinary reports on all the bullies, he’d have bad totals at the summer principals’ meeting.

  7. jackiepaper says

    That socialization thing you just spouted is as common a trope for homeschoolers to hear as it is for vegans to hear, “Where do you get your protein” and atheists to hear, “You’re just mad at God!”. It will get hackles up just as quick, too.

    Homeschooling does not mean living an insular lifestyle. It does not mean kids are deprived of a social life. Really, that stereotype is so stale. I’ve been homeschooling one of mine for a while now and she is in no way stunted. In fact, there are quite a few ways in which she’s well ahead of most teens her age. Her ability to speak to a variety of people in a variety of circumstances is one. Diversity, believe it or not is not best had in assigned seats with only people of your age group, from your side of town and in your level of academic achievement. Because she is not in school, she can actually socialize with people from other counties and states, out and proud people of every stripe, people of every age, interest and background. She’s danced with the Moscow Ballet, volunteered at a museum and taken numerous classes outside the home. So if you think want to homeschool and are weighing the pros and cons, please don’t assume that you know what those pros and cons are before you do your research.

    …and then realize that you won’t really know what you’ve gotten yourself into until you are doing it, sort of like being a parent in general.

  8. laconicsax says

    She had sex with four guys at a party? What are the chances that she wasn’t exactly willing?

    That likelihood makes the story more tragic–a 15-year-old girl who was possibly gang raped was bullied to death by her attackers.

  9. says

    @ jackiepaper

    Um. Maybe you missed the part where I said I was homeschooled. I was, for years. In elementary school and Jr. High, almost all of my friends were homeschooled, as well. I helped homeschool my younger brother and my foster siblings, off and on. I think homeschooling can be great (I said that I loved it), if it’s done well. But I do think it’s difficult to do well. It’s a huge responsibility. (But, a responsibility that I would take if it was in the best interest of my kid. Just not one I would take lightly.)

    And I know that I had a very difficult time interacting with kids my own age. Even when I was in college, it took a long time for me to feel comfortable with my peer group, and I still always felt off. There was a lot of cultural stuff that I just missed out on, and I couldn’t relate to them at all. In my college classes, I would always find myself talking with people 10-20 years older than me, instead of people my age, because I communicated better with them, understood them, felt more comfortable with them. In many ways, I had more in common with older adults than I did with adults in their late teens/early twenties.

    And as much as people complain about schools turning out “sheeple” or whatever, I do think it’s important for kids to learn to conform to other people’s expectations of behavior. Different teachers will have different expectations and rules; you have to learn how to make them happy, both behaviorally and by tailoring your work to their desires. You also have to learn to get along and work with people you otherwise wouldn’t like. (Note: this does not mean I think kids should have to put up with bullying. Obviously. That was my entire point, previously.) These are very important skills that, in my experience, homeschooled kids don’t always learn very well. Like I said, most of my friends growing up were homeschooled, as were family members (and myself, of course). Many of us had difficulties adjusting to both college and working a job, because we didn’t get the training attending school provides.

  10. says

    @ hypatiasdaughter, athyco

    Oh, yeah, been there. I got backed against the wall by a bigger student who was scaring the shit out of me. I was fully afraid she was going to beat me up, and she was crowding me in, cutting off any escape. So I pushed her and ran to a teacher. BAM! Suspension. My mom was pissed. She asked the principal, “So, the adults who were supposed to be watching the kids outside didn’t protect her. Instead of fighting, she ran away, to a teacher, exactly as they’re taught to do. What was she supposed to do instead?” And the principal said her hands were tied, that I had put hands on another student so she had no choice in the matter. I’m sitting there sobbing hysterically because I had never been in trouble in my life, and that was very near the last straw for mom. I think I lasted maybe another month before she finally pulled me out of the school, for good.

    (She’d decided to have me try public school after years of homeschooling, mostly because she was was working quite a bit and going to school herself, so she didn’t really have the time to homeschool me anymore, and also because she wanted me to get the benefits of public school. But she wasn’t going to keep me there when the administration proved incapable of stopping the bullying.)

  11. resident_alien says

    laconisax,that was I was thinking,too…And now I’m off to cuteroulette,because I can only stand so much shit in a day.Sometimes,I hate people…

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