|By David Hedges, Publisher|
A Roane County High School freshman had to endure the pain of being hit square in the face with a cafeteria tray.
Then she had to relive it when other students posted video footage of the incident on YouTube, Facebook and other Internet sites.
During lunch period last Thursday, students in the Roane County High School commons area saw the freshman girl struck in the face by the tray wielded by another student. The blow was forceful enough to cause the tray to shatter into pieces.
"She's lucky she didn't get her teeth knocked out," Sgt. Kevin Unger of the Roane Sheriff's Dept. said of the victim. "Those plastic trays are pretty hard."
Some students recorded the episode on their cell phones and later uploaded the recordings to Internet sites such as YouTube.
"It's all over the Internet," Unger said. "I was told some people even posted it on their Facebook page. I don't know why they would want to do that."
Police did not release the names of the students involved because of their ages.
The mother of the 15-year-old victim provided the sheriff's department with a video version of the assault from a cell phone.
"I won't watch it," Juanita Greathouse said.
When her daughter was hit, Greathouse said the girl's face was covered in blood and she heard ringing in her ears.
A school nurse took her to the Roane General Hospital emergency room for treatment.
Greathouse said her daughter has a busted lip and nose, but no broken bones. She is planning to take her to the dentist to check a couple of loose teeth.
But her daughter's physical condition is only part of her concern.
"She's not the same child she was," Greathouse said. "She doesn't even want to come out of her room.
"I don't know what to do," she said. "I know she has to go back to school, but she doesn't want to."
Greathouse said while the assault was bad enough, when other students posted the video on the Internet it added insult to injury. Some of those postings were later removed.
Greathouse said the fact the video shows several students holding up their cell phones to take pictures before her daughter was struck indicated others knew what was going to happen in advance.
"She hit her in the face so hard it broke the tray in four pieces," Greathouse said. "She had one piece left in her hand and she threw it at my daughter."
Unger, who has filed a juvenile petition to charge the other girl with battery, said it might not have been planned for the cameras.
He said once students heard the shouting that preceded the incident, they were anticipating a fight and reached for their camera-phones.
"I don't think they knew she was going to pick up a tray and hit her with it," he said. "They could see there was going to be a fight. You can see other kids backing away from the table."
Greathouse said students are not supposed to have their cell phones out on school time.
She also said school staff should have been monitoring the commons area during lunch and may have been able to prevent the incident.
Greathouse said the school nurse told her she is at the emergency room two or three times a week with students injured in fights.
This argument began after the girl, also a freshman, who wielded the lunch tray accused her daughter of talking to her boyfriend, Greathouse said. She said the boy is actually her daughter's cousin.
Not only was technology common to teenagers used to capture the incident on video and post on it on the World Wide Web, it appears some of the same technology may have led up to the incident.
The girl accused of battery told police she knew that the other girl had been communicating with her boyfriend because she saw it on his Facebook page.