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South Park Episode and Facebook Group Inspire School Violence

| by Dr Gwenn

Some things sound so absurd you almost think “is that a Saturday Night Live Skit?”…and then you realize it is real. Such was the case when I learned about “Kick A Ginger Day” on Facebook when a friend sent me this link: this link.


Not only is it real and did it occur last Friday, November 20, 2009, but it occurred last year at this time…and both times was posted and announced on Facebook as a group! Last week’s posting resulted in a high school boy getting beat up by a group of teens in his school. Last year’s posting resulted in 5000 people signing on to this “cause”, originally based on a South Park episode.

There is a huge uprising on Facebook with pages of groups forming with names like “Anti-Kick a Ginger Day” and “Kick A Ginger Day Is Stupid”. And, the back lash against Facebook is clear: where have they been to help keep Facebook free of this type of hate speech and protect it’s members from harm?

In the final analysis, there are three main issues to consider:


1. Teens have been beaten up due to this “cause”.


2. This is bullying, plain and simple, via the propagation of hate speech.


3. Where has Facebook been this entire time?


Let me elaborate a bit on these points.


Bullying is never ok, even if the teens involved thought it was “a joke” or just got “carried away”. A teen was targeted and beaten up and punishment is needed. A clear message needs to be sent such behavior has zero tolerance in words and actions.

Hate speech and bullying should never be allowed, on or offline, and there should be a way for people to report it and get help in stopping it. MySpace and YouTube have ways to report abuse and questionable content on their sites. In fact, both sites have incredibly robust safety centers with all sorts of useful Internet safety information. That type of corporate responsibility is important given the amount of users on those sites and the amount of teens on those sites.


It’s very concerning that Facebook doesn’t have such reporting tools and educational materials. If they did, perhaps this year’s event would not have been repeated from last year’s event and this year’s beatings could have been prevented.


Online communities must have ways to empower members to stay safe, just as offline communities do, and the groups providing those communities have to take a lead and an interest in being part of the conversations about safety and the solutions. Online communities such as Facebook can’t just create a community and not help that community stay safe. That isn’t acceptable in today’s global digital world. One teen targeted by others and getting beaten up is too many…and is the wake up call to action and participation by Facebook, and every other social networking group who doesn’t have a safety plan in place.


Facebook…are you listening?