Anti-Bullying Class Project Gets LongWood High Student Suspended
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A class project has landed a Longwood High School freshman in hot water.
For an assignment on persuasive speech, 15-year-old Jessica Barba created an anti-bullying YouTube video and Facebook page about a fictitious 12-year-old girl who commits suicide after being bullied at school.
“I was trying to get across that bullying is a huge problem in the United States and it’s worldwide now,” Barba told 1010 WINS. “We need to get it across to as many kids as possible that bullying is not okay, it’s not your place to put a kid into a state of mind where they feel like they have no other option but to kill themselves.”
Last Wednesday, a day after the video was posted online, Barba said the principal suspended her from school.
“He said that I could get jail time for six months for what I did and I could get suspended for the rest of the year, including next year,” Barba said. “So, I’m sitting there and I’m having a mental breakdown. I was so distraught by everything that was going on.”
The video follows the story of “Hailey Bennett” a fictional character Barba created to raise awareness about bullying.
In the video, “Bennett” becomes increasingly depressed and isolated after her best friend moves, leaving her alone to deal with daily bullying by classmates. The video ends with Bennett slamming her bedroom door; a caption reads, “Hailey Bennett committed suicide on May 14th at 10:37 p.m.”
At the start and end of the video, Barba issued a warning saying the character was fictional and created in order to prevent bullying.
Barba had also created a Facebook page under the name “Hailey Bennett.” It featured status updates from the fictional girl reaching out for help but only getting cruel messages of hate in return.
A concerned parent apparently saw the Facebook page and called the police, not realizing that it was fake. The fabricated profile has since been removed from the social media site.
The school superintendent released a statement saying the district is unable to comment on a matter involving any student.
Originally posted at http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/05/22/l-i-girl-suspended-over-anti-bullying-youtube-video/