Girl suspended for anti-bullying project video
MIDDLE ISLAND, N.Y. (WHDH) -- A Long Island teen's project to create awareness about bullying got her suspended from school. On the today show Wednesday morning she talked about why.
12-year-old Hailey Bennett's Facebook page was full of hateful messages, like “shut up already,” “you smell bad” and “no one pities you.”
A depressed Bennet posted: “I hate myself”-- a heartbreaking display of cyber bullying, except it was all fake.
15-year-old freshman Jessica Garba says she made up the Facebook profile to raise awareness about bullying. She also made a 6-minute YouTube video showing how the bullying for her fictional character led to suicide.
“I was so excited,” she said. “I would work on it so hard for the two days straight that I worked on it, just to make sure it was done, and made sure it had a good message in it.”
But Jessica’s good message got a bad reaction; concerned parents saw the Facebook page and called police. School officials then suspended Jessica for five days for creating a distraction at school.
“I started hysterically crying,” Jessica said. “I couldn’t believe I was getting suspended for something I worked so hard on and the only intent of it was good.”
Jessica says the school demanded her Facebook password and took the page down.
She says it was made very clear on the page that it was fiction.
“This was a post that I had posted on my own account, that it was for a project that I was doing on school bullying, so everyone can you please add her,” she said. “They've been teaching us since we were in kindergarten that you treat people the way you want to be treated and not to bully, and then I make some type of movement in it and I get punished for it.”
The school wouldn't comment on the case, but a suspension hearing with Jessica and her parents was scheduled for Wednesday.