DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A video showing a Baltimore mother encouraging her son to fight another boy has drawn strong reactions locally from social workers and parents of bullied children.
Baltimore resident Kelly White, 36, has been charged with five total charges as a result of the video, including second the degree child abuse, second degree assault, reckless endangerment, contributing to the condition of a child and affray. The cell phone video shows her pitting her son against another boy who was allegedly bullying him.
For several minutes, White stands to the side of the fight and shouts at her son to “bang him in the face.” When the boy cried out for help, she turned him down and told him to get up and fight.
When the fight finally ended, White justified her actions to an onlooker.
“He still stood up to him,” she said. “Now chase him everyday and I bet you give him a week and he’ll (mess) you up.”
In North Texas, parents of bullied children are split on the appropriateness of the mother’s actions.
Jason and Debbie Lance, who lost a son to suicide last year after instances of bullying, said responding to a bully can be a touchy situation, but they still couldn’t condone White’s behavior.
“You tell a kid to fight back and the next thing you know he’s sneaking your gun into school and shooting somebody because it’s, oh, fight back,” Jason Lance said Wednesday.
Some parents of students bullied at area schools said they’ve told their children to fight back and the bullying has stopped. But the Lances said there’s no way to know how each child will react.
“Some of them decide to kill themselves,” Debbie Lance said. “Others decide to fight back. Some of ‘em decide to go and do a Columbine shooting. We’ve got to change the reaction to how they respond to the bullying.”
Videos of parents telling kids to fight are beginning to turn up across the country. Cases were filed last month in California and Florida. Social workers say cameras are just revealing what’s happened under the radar for years.
The problem is, the fight used to be the end of the argument and it isn’t that way anymore, experts said.
“We’re in a different world,” said social worker Missy Wall. “We’re in a different media world. We’re in a different online world.”
Wall, who works with Teen Contact in Dallas and organizes bullying presentations at area schools, said fights end up continuing past the classroom and spilling onto video websites and social media networks.
Weapons make backyard brawls life-threatening and criminal charges are often brought up against parents and kids who are involved. If the Maryland fight happened in Texas, White could have earned anywhere from two to 20 years in prison.
“You’re just sick of seeing your child being bullied, then find a way to help them,” Wall said. “Educate them on being assertive.”
People fight, Wall said, when they don’t stop to talk. And once the punches are thrown, the consequences are often just beginning.
The Texas Senate and House are both trying to pass bills requiring school districts to have policies dealing with bullying, but neither bill has passed with only weeks left in the session.