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image courtesy @kj2018 on UnSplash

Frederick County Public School District in Frederick, Maryland, is investigating an alleged middle school assault at Urbana Middle School on Wednesday that was captured on a cell phone camera after the victim was accused of “snitching” on another student who had brought a type of electronic cigarette to class.

The video appears to show the victim being accosted somewhere outside the school, and after running away, and then apologizing, being attacked to the approval of an excited mob of students. He is also shown, and heard, begging for mercy, as the camera continues to roll. While FCPS insists it was made aware of the assault “almost immediately,” one wonders what the character education in Urbana Middle School includes, if no student is purported to have attempted to help the student who was attacked. And while the video provides impressive evidence against the attackers, the culture of “watch, don’t act,” is not only alive and well in junior high, but seems to be enabled. Of course, the spokesman for FCPS stressed that this was not the case: “Anytime an incident like this happens, school administrators and law enforcement work hard to determine the cause of the incident, but the most important thing to us is that violence of any kind is simply unacceptable, so regardless of the exact precipitating events, we want to help our students find productive and safe ways to deal with events at school.”

Drawing parallels between public school and prison is a simple task, indeed. When do the majority of prison assaults occur? When authority figures’ backs are turned. What happens during the assault? Do fellow prisoners come to the victim’s aid? Or, if they were afforded the use of a cell phone camera, might the same thing happen that occurred on the grounds of Urbana Middle School?

Disciplinary actions were taken by the school, but FCPS declined to disclose what those actions were. The assault is also being investigated by local law enforcement.

FCPS spokesman Michael Doerrer said a lot of things were up in the air, but he did affirm, “What I do know for sure is that the school is safe.” Is it?

Urbana Middle School in Ijamsville, Maryland, serves approximately 1000 students in Frederick County, and lists two of its core values as “demonstrating empathy, caring, and respect for all,” and “Creating and maintaining a safe school climate.

Assault leads to disciplinary action, investigation of Urbana Middle School students

Frederick County Public Schools – Urbana Middle Schoool

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