(Original story at the Chicago Sun-Times here.)
I remember that when I was a sixth grader, some boy in my class had brought a list to school. The list ranked the hotness of all our female classmates in a tongue-in-cheek manner. The list unfortunately went missing and was found by a girl. The girl, horrified, reported it to our teacher. Our teacher was not amused at all, and interrogated the boys. Of course, no one would admit to it. Our teacher gave us a very stern warning and dropped the matter.
Obviously, if you throw social media into such a story, things get out of proportion. Why? To those in the circle, it is amusing – not that I condone it. To everyone else – especially the victims and their parents – it is repugnant. When social media and electronic communication are used in the transmission of what could just have been dismissed as a distasteful joke, everyone who is likely to be offended can see the offending document, forcing school administrators to act harshly. In such a case, the police are likely to be involved because the victims’ parents are baying for blood.
Oak Park police charge boy who allegedly made sex-ranking list
By Bill Dwyer firstname.lastname@example.org May 12, 2011 09:24AM
An Oak Park juvenile was arrested Monday for allegedly devising and circulating a list ranking 50 female Oak Park-River Forest High School girls by their sexual characteristics and alleged sexual behaviors.
“The subject was found to be responsible for an offensive list that was circulated at OPRFHS,” said Detective Cmdr. LaDon Reynolds. “Based on the evidence, the juvenile offender was charged with disorderly conduct and referred to (juvenile) court.”
The father of one girl targeted by the list confirmed Tuesday the arrest. His wife, he said, was contacted by Oak Park police Tuesday morning about the charges.
The list emerged in January and described the girls by explicit, derogatory nicknames and assessed their physical appearance, sexual desirability, sexual activity and other characteristics. It was posted on Facebook and hundreds of copies were printed and distributed at the high school during lunch period, before the school administration intervened.
“The school learned today from Oak Park police about the arrest of the former OPRFHS student…” according to a statement from OPRFHS spokeswoman Kay Foran.
This sad and troubling experience prompted the school to have very targeted and deliberate discussions with OPRF students, faculty, staff and families about the consequences and impact of bullying, cyber bullying and sexual harassment and about the remedies and supports available to those victimized by illegal and hurtful behaviors.
“This incident also has spurred us to review and augment our communications and educational outreach to students and families about these issues as we raise awareness and reiterate expectations of respectful behavior toward all,” stated Foran.
Reynolds said the Oak Park Police Department worked closely with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office to build the case.
The boy was processed and turned over to his legal guardian, Reynolds said.
In February the boy was expelled from OPRF and sent to an alternative high school in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, according to sources.
Dale Jones, father of one of the girls, said that while he welcomed the arrest, he was concerned that a disorderly conduct charge was not serious enough of a response for a “very serious offense that affected many people.”
Still, he said, “I’m gratified that the investigation continued, and that charges are being filed. I’m hopeful they consider additional charges as they gather more evidence.”