By Cindy Bradford
GILBERT - A video showing a bullying incident Sunday afternoon has gone viral on Facebook.
The video on the popular social media site shows a male student from Gilbert Middle School who was outside the Larry Joe Harless Community Center when he was approached by a male student from Huff Consolidated School while a female student from Mingo Central High School was making a video of the Gilbert boy being bullied.
It is evident that the Gilbert student was in fear and did not want to fight, but the Huff Consolidated student insisted on pushing and punching the boy. The Gilbert student clearly asked him to stop and began calling for help. All the while, the Mingo Central student was laughing and making no attempt to stop the fight.
Gilbert resident Robert May, who knew a boy who committed suicide after being the victim of bullying, said in response to the video, “Bullying is a cycle … stop the cycle. I had a child commit suicide because he was bullied to death. He was one of my Energy Express kids. Instead of continuing the cycle, stop it.
“The center has video, I emailed them the info. Bullying isn’t stopped by more bullying, it’s stopped by real consequences and action,” May said. “So instead of threats, be the person that ends the the cycle. The center always handles things professionally and should be commended for their actions taken.”
People in Gilbert and surrounding communities are outraged and are asking for answers.
The executive director of the Harless Center, Cheryl Mitchem, said the center has been made aware of this incident and will not tolerate this behavior from any of its members.
The children in this video will be reprimanded for their behavior, Mitchem said, adding that the center keeps a diligent staff on site when in operation.
The center’s staff intervened when the fight was discovered and attempted to notify the parents of the offenders, she said.
”After reviewing the videos we have determined that this was two 14-year- old boys fighting over a girl. Those that were violating LJHCC rules by hitting or not helping someone being harmed have been suspended,” Mitchem said. “These types of behaviors will not be tolerated. We thank you for your concern of the children and hope that this issue will assist parents in talking to their children about actions and consequences.
“It is now up to law enforcement to determine if any other action should be taken,” the center director said.
Mayor Vivian Livingood, asked her thoughts on this act, said, ”I was alerted to the mistreatment of a young man at the LJH Community Center and immediately notified Chief Rasmussen to investigate.
“Bullying of any person is wrong,” Livingood said. “I watched the video and became very upset. I know young people will have arguments and fights, but this young man was not trying to fight back.
“I pray the police will get all the information and those doing wrong will suffer the consequences. We live in a different world today and everything is videoed and shared,” the mayor said. “How can anyone stand around and watch someone being hit and not stop it? I don’t understand what is happening to today’s society. It makes me sick and hurt. I am so sorry for this young man.”
Police have been notified and made aware of the incident, and are conducting an investigation.