Bullying in the 21st century

When you hear about a brutal attack and hear some of the names involved - names such as Kayla or April or Brittini - you'd assume those girls were the unfortunate victims.

Certainly not the accused attackers.

But in what Polk County, Fla., Sheriff Grady Judd has described as "animalistic behavior" and "pack mentality," eight teens - six girls and two boys - were arrested for the recent beating of 16-year-old Victoria Lindsay.

Apparently what began as an online spat among former friends led to Victoria being forced into a car and taken to someone else's house, where for 30 minutes Victoria was videotaped being beaten and verbally abused by up to six other teen girls. Two boys are said to have stood outside the house, acting as lookouts.

Police say the intent was to post the beating on YouTube.com, the popular video-sharing site.

All eight teens are facing charges of battery and false imprisonment. Three of the eight also are charged with felony kidnapping, stemming from Victoria being pushed into the car.

What may be more revolting than the attack itself is the attitude of the accused attackers. News reports told of the girls sitting together locked up in the Polk County Jail, talking about the beating.

And they were laughing.

Welcome to this latest glimpse into the dark side of the Information Age.

The Internet has become the No. 1 purveyor of media violence, in the form of homemade videos depicting one-on-one fights, or groups of people ganging up on a single unsuspecting victim.

It's not just violence at the movies or on television that parents have to worry about now. With the easy-to-use technology people now have at their disposal, planning, executing and documenting acts of unrestrained violence has become a sick do-it-yourself hobby. You need little more than a camera phone, an Internet connection and a few people with the cold detachment of wild predators.

The lowlifes who are cranking out this garbage have been desensitized to the disgusting violent acts they've already witnessed on the 'Net. And violence begets violence. As Victoria's father described such misguided teens, "if they create the best shock videos, they're the heroes."

But they're actually the villains.

"Villainous" is an apt description of this soulless crime that police believe was planned with appalling ease through wireless communication and the Worldwide Web. It's bullying in the 21st century.

The people responsible for so savagely attacking Victoria Lindsay deserve the full force of punishment the law allows - and as adults.

This whole episode turns on its head the old phrase "It's 10 o'clock - do you know where your children are?" It's hard enough for parents to keep track of their sons and daughters in the real world. But what about the seemingly bigger and often scarier world of cyberspace?

Parents should carefully guide their kids' online habits. It can be through filtering certain Web sites using security software.

Or you can simply talk with your children about what they see, and why they should or shouldn't.

That's an information filter that has been used successfully for years. It's called good, attentive parenting.

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Wed, 06/28/2017 - 00:24

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