15-year-old Jessica Barba, a freshman at Longwood High School in Middle Island, NY, has been suspended for five days after creating an anti-bullying video as part of a school project and a Facebook page about a fictional 12-year-old girl who commits suicide.
As Barba tells Matt Lauer on the TODAY show, the purpose of the project was simply “to raise awareness of the major issue that’s bullying” — it is outrageous that she is being punished for her efforts to highlight an issue that has, tragically, become a pervasive feature of too many students’ lives and that has been the reason some have committed suicide.
The video, which Barba posted on YouTube, told the story of a made-up 12-year-old, Hailey Bennett (played by Barba), who was said to have lost her mother at the age of 3, been abused by her father, was left alone after her friends moved away and was the victim of daily bullying, at school and on the mock Facebook page. “Hailey” eventually takes her own life. Both the video and the Facebook page had disclaimers that made it clear that “Hailey” was fictional. . . .