Note: we are republishing this story in light of recent reports that show child abuse has significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. More on this here: https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2021-10-08/study-confirms-rise-in-child-abuse-during-covid-pandemic
A Bamberg, South Carolina, teen was arrested after turning himself in for allegedly slapping a 5-year-old girl on a school bus.
Tavon Walters turned himself in after a photo of the little girl went viral and security footage was released showing the 17-year-old hitting 5-year-old Jazmyn Peters on a bus traveling from the school to an after school program.
“He had reached over that seat and [told] another girl if you don't hit her then I'm going to hit her for you,” Terry Peters, the girl’s father, told WRDW.
The photo, which was posted online by the girl’s aunt, Brittany Hubbard Gillam, was initially questioned in relation to the surveillance footage because it looked as though the slap was on the opposite cheek. It was ultimately discovered, however, that the photo was likely flipped -- confirming that Tavon was responsible for the mark left on the girl’s face.
“This pisses me the f off!! This happened to my niece on her bus. She is in 5K she was slapped in the face by a high school boy. Let's share this!” Gillam wrote alongside the photo.
Tavon, WRDW reported, had a history of criminal behavior -- prompting questions as to why he was allowed on a school bus with young children in the first place.
“This kid has been in trouble at school before no secret, they're saying he's on probation, why is it that someone who has a history like that allowed to ride the bus, especially with young students?” attorney Liz Owens, who represented the girl’s parents following the incident, asked school Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting.
“Well, he had not had any bus incidents for one,” Schwarting responded.
The family, WRDW reported, was believed to be considering a lawsuit.
Many readers called on school officials to be removed for allowing the incident to happen.
“Fire them all. Put the thug in jail and sue the school district for failing to investigate and resolve. My child, my Irish temp would be off the chart and at the point of ‘temporary insanity,’” one reader commented on Facebook.
“As a teacher, these parents need to understand that the school district IS RESPONSIBLE for the safety of the students while on the bus. Of course the [administration] will attempt [any] cowardly action possible to avoid responsibility and will probably hide behind some immunity law, but that won't hold as long as the parents stay the course. AND, the offending student's parents are probably [still] legally responsible also under state law. This needs to be pursued,” another wrote.
“Right a seventeen year old with a police record [assault]s a five year old and the [school] says its normal and not worth telling the little girls parents. I tell you what if that happened to my little one the seventeen year old better pray the police get him in custody and behind bars before i got my hands on him and left a mark on his face that i [guarantee] would be there for life. I would sue the school the bus driver and anyone else that allowed this to happen and did nothing to stop it,” another added.