Cheerleader Beating: Blaming the Net Rather Than Parents

Image: Who you gonna blame?Have you heard about the brutal beating of a 16-year-old cheerleader by eight teenagers, who recorded the assault for broadcast on YouTube? That’s right, the attack was both to get someone back and to gain fame. And naturally, the Net is being cited as the main culprit.

Shelly Palmer blogs a fantastic analysis of ethical and media issues surrounding this case on

Tori’s father, Patrick Lindsay said, “It all goes back to the hot topic, which is the Internet. What the Internet is doing to our kids. What society is doing to our kids and the desensitization of our kids. I’m very upset with these Internet companies. As far as I’m concerned, MySpace is the anti-Christ for children. I’m not gonna stop here. I’m going to carry this as far as I can.”

Excuse me, Mr. Lindsay … is it possible that your estranged daughter, against whom your wife has a restraining order and who you do not parent, nor live with, might have some problems that don’t have anything to do with social networks? Is it possible that the eight teenagers who kidnapped and beat her suffer from similar lack of parenting, upbringing, education and suitable supervision?  

Go read Shelly’s complete post.

This case brings back memories of Megan Meier, the widely reported case of a 13-year-old who killed herself after being harassed on MySpace.  Nearly all coverage omitted that she had been diagnosed with depression.  Her mother was aware that she had lied about her age to open a MySpace account and that she was talking to a much older boy online.  This should have raised questions about her parenting and the seriousness teenage depression.  Instead, media coverage focused on the threat of social networking sites.

In fact, one of the defining elements of the sad case of Megan Meier was the social outrage and efforts of Internet users harass and shun her apparent online tormentor who was a friend’s parent pretending to be a boy. Only in today’s case, the pitchfork crowd from the Net posted the wrong contact information online, and an uninvolved family in Lakeland Florida is now getting hundreds of harassing phone calls to their number by mistake.

Families have always had problems, so have individuals. But that’s not news, and it probably a more threatening thought than to blame change.  So our culture will continue to assign blame to communication media, video games, and music, rather than to the people who are actually responsible for the welfare of children. And we’ll keep having Congressional hearings about Second Life and steroids, rather than how we’ll someday have to pay for a debt-financed war, or a host of hare more threatening issues.

Shelly, thanks for the great blog post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.