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4 Dearborn Teens Suspended Over Bullying Letters

A series of "skank lists" sent out by students at local high schools have parents, students and administrators reeling.

This month, dozens of Dearborn families got an unwanted letter in their mailboxes: a so-called "skank list" with their daughters' names on it.

The lists named various girls who attend Fordson and Dearborn high schools and included disparaging and salacious remarks about the teens.

Now, four male Dearborn Public Schools students have been suspended over the multiple bullying incidents, district spokesperson David Mustonen confirmed Thursday. And several other lists are still being investigated.

Letters Begin at Fordson

Administrators say that the situation started with Fordson students in early February, when a anonymous, typed letter showed up in the mailboxes of multiple students’ homes. The letter mentioned girls by their full names, commenting on their personal lives, families and alleged sexual practices.

The letter spread on Facebook, Twitter, and via smart phone messaging, and sparked copycat letters in other schools.

Last week, a similar letter began circulating amongst Dearborn High students. At Fordson, a second list popped up targeting sophomores at the school. A third letter came out Crestwood High. Rumors of a second Dearborn High letter are also making their way through cyberspace.

Mustonen said that administrators at Dearborn High and Fordson investigated, and were able to find out which students were responsible for at least two of the lists.

The alleged writer of the first letter at Fordson–a male student at the school–was suspended first. And on Wednesday, two Dearborn High boys and one more Fordson student were suspended as well, according to Mustonen.

Mother: We Were Humiliated

While name-calling is not uncommon in high schools, it doesn't often reach parents' ears.

The mother of a Fordson sophomore whose name was on a list told Dearborn Patch that seeing the letter was painful.

“We as a family felt humiliated," said the mother. "When I looked at my daughter I saw pain in her eyes. To me, she is the victim and she was the only person I needed to protect.”

The mother said she had spoken to authorities, and to Fordson's 10th grade principal, Ben Gurk. She said she hopes other parents will speak out against the bullying, too.

"We need to all voice our opinion about the issue, because it might happen to any one of our children," she said. "We want (the district) to do more with educating our kids and holding them accountable for their actions. We do not want to hide anything or protect anyone to keep a good image of our schools."

Students React to Bullying in Their Schools

Students at both schools told Dearborn Patch that they were shocked to read the letters.

"It was really hurtful to see my name and what was written on that paper," said a Fordson senior whose name was in the first list. "It didn't hurt because of what they said, but because someone I know would say those things about me."

The girl said she felt that the students should get the "maximum punishment," including suspension, a public apology and exclusion from graduation day ceremonies.

A senior boy at Fordson took it a step further, saying that those responsible should be expelled.

“How could someone write that about these girls that he or she might not even know personally?” he said. “I think that the school should expel the person who wrote this because … the letter was intended to harass people.”

A sophomore girl at Dearborn High agreed.

“I thought it was so unnecessary for someone to put so much time and effort in writing these humiliating letters about these girls,” she said. “I think the school should talk to the police about it and get the authorities involved to do further investigation. The people that that wrote these letters have no right to get away with it.”

A junior girl at Crestwood said several of her friends and classmates were in the letter, and that they “really didn’t handle it well.”

“These people cried a lot and were really embarrassed by the letters,” she said.

District Reiterates Need for Bullying Policy

Mustonen said that the district sees the incident as a perfect example of why their comprehensive bullying policy, launched for the 2011-12 school year, is so crucial to ending harassment like this.

“This incident didn’t happen at school, and that’s why we started our bullying program, because bullying occurs … at any place, at any time,” he said. “We can’t control that, and that’s why we need to be partners with everybody in this program to make sure everyone’s involved to stay on top of these things when they get out of hand.”

Although the letters were written and delivered outside of school, Mustonen explained that their effect on the school environment—including further in-school bullying of the girls—put the situation within the district’s jurisdiction to handle.

The Fordson senior who spoke with Patch said that the letter "has caused many people to look at me differently." Some questioned her about the things written about her.

But there was a positive consequence, too.

"I now take bullying much more serious than I ever have before," she said. "Instead of grieving over what happened, we all decided to stand strong and be proud that we are better than these kids who did that."

And while students are not being further educated about the consequences of the letters, Mustonen said he thinks the suspensions will be enough to deter further copycat letters.

“We hope that by sending a strong message through the disciplinary action that these students are facing, other students who may be thinking about doing this kind of thing will not,” he said. “Our ongoing efforts ... go a long way in addressing this kind of behavior and stopping it before it starts becoming something that is a common practice.”

But for those who are bullied, the Fordson senior has a message to send: "Stay strong. Don't let these kids bring you down."

Kat Starr February 18, 2012 at 07:45 PM
you are obviously a child as well. embarrassment does not come from only true statements you idiot, it comes from not being able to defend yourself because so many people now believe what they heard or read. Like the saying goes "everyone else said it's true so it must be true" and now no matter what these girls do no one may believe them. they know what their truth is and the idiots who wrote the letters if they are lying, they know that as well.
Kat Starr February 18, 2012 at 07:54 PM
David, I agree with you it was not violence it was persuasion. Since the schools in our country don't take this type of issue as seriously as they should I have always told my girls "do not let anyone push you around or bully you. If you get into a fight trying to put a bully in their place, I will defend you at your school no matter what." I do not condone violence but one thing I know for a fact is that unless a bully receives a severe & humiliating punishment they will never stop what they are doing and sometimes that means they get their asses kicked by the victim or made very well aware of the fact that if they don't stop they will, as in your daughters case. I say bravo to her.
jankantius February 18, 2012 at 07:59 PM
I absolutely agree. I am an advocate of early and thorough sex education. When I was still working one of my big sex ed lessons was about lies that will be told. Another was that both male and female feelings are pretty much the same. My daughter told me that girls lie as much as boys do.. Everyone wants to appear as sophisticated and experienced. That is our failure. It drives us to foolish adventures that go nowhere. I am lucky in finding a wife I can talk with easily.
DrKMcK1 February 18, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Look, I've been reading all the comments and I have to say it doesn't matter if it was true or not. The real issue here is that the intention was to hurt. I have to wonder why young people are getting their jollies from hurting their peers in a very public manner. Not only does a parent know what happened, the whole damn community does. That's a wee bit different that passing notes used to be. It just makes me think of someone pulling the wings off flies, you know?
jankantius February 18, 2012 at 08:06 PM
WTF?? The girls slept around? Don't most boys aspire to do that? It's way past time that girls/women seized their right to act outside the context of a patriarchal society. Go take your break, Mr. Piggie
jankantius February 18, 2012 at 08:10 PM
I mostly agree, with the exception that I do figure it is the school's responsibility. Part of our job is to shape the culture of the future... and tolerating any form of abuse or bigotry is against our mandate.
jankantius February 18, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Yep kids can't get seriously arrested, however I think it would be good to put them in a cell and call their parents to come get them.
jankantius February 18, 2012 at 08:19 PM
So, you enjoyed humiliating other students just for fun? Go BOOWAH yourself.
Kat Starr February 18, 2012 at 08:21 PM
john casy are you one of the unknown offenders?
jankantius February 18, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Your parents are failures.. As I suspect you already know.
David Smith February 18, 2012 at 08:24 PM
@ John it's skank not shank. Skank is a derogatory term for girls who have a reputation of being sexually promiscuous. In other words the girls all the horny teenage boys want to hook up with on the weekend and talk about on Monday.
jankantius February 18, 2012 at 08:24 PM
So you know your mom's sexual history? Chances are that at some point in her life she was a skank.
David Smith February 18, 2012 at 08:32 PM
@Cynthia- As you pointed out in was called unconstitutional because it was unfunded not because it was not needed. I'm sure they will have something in place soon. Most schools have already implemented programs. At my school it has been firmly enforced.
jankantius February 18, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Were you rejected/humiliated by some girls you were attracted to? Was it your girlfriend that did the team? My first love did something like that. Though I never have insulted her over it. She was just a girl on an explorative journey. She ended up in a very conventional marriage.
amanda February 18, 2012 at 09:00 PM
@david smith , how was my commeny foolish and immature?
jankantius February 18, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Wayward kids? A lot of my former lovers were sexually adventurous. Their lives turned out fine. Professional careers, community involvement, stable marriages etc. Their adult performance was way over average. If anyone had sent a demeaning letter to their parents I would have been glad to encounter him in a physical situation. I did for a while have the habit of threatening physical harm . In particular when two guys threatened a friend of mine because he dared to date a girl one of them wanted. When one of them told me of their plans I just said, "well, you know I'll be there" I'm not a fighter, but I was a weight lifter. That simple fact allowed me to intervene when required. I figure physically fit people have an obligation to intervene when overblown boys figure it is cool to abuse women. Aomeone needs to kick these boys asses
jankantius February 18, 2012 at 09:14 PM
They were saying skank rather than shank. I have an affection for skanks. They are just women who dare to behave the same way boys do.
Lee Jacobsen February 18, 2012 at 09:45 PM
DrK... Your comment about pulling wings off of 'flies' regarding this teen sexual scandal did remind me of some sexual fly humor.... A woman walked into the kitchen to find her Husband stalking around with a fly swatter. What are you doing?" She asked. Hunting Flies" He responded. Oh. ! Killing any?" She asked. Yep, 3 males, 2 Females," he replied. Intrigued, she asked. "How can you tell them apart?" He responded, 3 were on a beer can, 2 were on the phone.
Larry L. Daigneault February 18, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Expulsions would likely make these boys local heros among their peers so not a good idea, however warranted. This would likely increase copycat events, too. Punishment rarely works well with kids, their minds simply aren't mature enough and teens are beset by raging hormones. Indeed, ironically, the most likely motivation for the letters is spurned advances by the boys or their friends, given the constant barrage of sexism from the pseudo-elite white conservative males, it would be hard to discount. These boys aren't growing up in a sexual vacuum. Better to video them writing their confessions on a blackboard, make an apology to their victims, and post the videos on Youtube. Public shaming is effective and will discourage the coptcatting that has already been seen.
S.b February 19, 2012 at 03:42 AM
What a dirty shame! I bet my life on it these boys were brought up in a home that the parents showed no respect for each other. If these boys ha a good father figure to tech them how to respect a lady they would never think of doing something so cruel .
Sallie February 19, 2012 at 06:36 AM
I agree S.b. This situation boils down to values and character. I am not even going to get into it about the double standards about boys fooling around vs. girls doing the same, which is the case here. Enough said. But people, please, just as we need to teach our daughters self respect and virtue, and thinking twice about who they choose as friends; we need to teach our sons about values like decency, respect and good judgement. Is being a gentleman that obsolete? Why the malice and cruelty? This was a mean-spirited personal and psychological attack. And against individuals that they shared enough feelings for to get intimate with. I guess they were friends at some point. Do these boys just prey on girls? These boys need guidance- and punishment. Their actions were malicious, slanderous and defaming of character. I think the families of these girls need to press criminal charges. Talk to your daughters about consequences of their actions, but stand by them, as they are victims. And the school had better make serious consequences for these boys, or else copy cats will soon follow in their footsteps. And who knows who will be targeted next. Parents: let us embrace our children. Let us really get to know them and what they are capable of. These will be members of the adult society soon. Either they will learn a lesson, or go on to commit further disgusting crimes in the future.
marooned in Dbn February 19, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Sure Jankantius, you make perfect sense, but only for the hypocritical. Your statements, comeing from a possible man who by his own admission of haveing "slept", with "30 women", before marrage,on this very site, verifies my statement. Btw, did you ever tell your wife about your past conquests? I have been told that even some wifes of sexually addicted guys like you take pride of the fact that their man is so popular with the opposite sex, that seems to alleviate their own feelings of sexual inadequacy. Please seek professional counseling. There, you asked for my opinion, and you got it.
NatlWomensLawCtr February 21, 2012 at 09:19 PM
These letters aren’t just a form of bullying, they sound like a form of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment in schools is prohibited by a federal civil rights law called Title IX. Title IX requires a school to investigate incidents of sexual harassment and take effective steps to prevent it from happening again. Disciplining the perpetrating students is not enough—a school must take action to change the school culture and send a message to the school community that this behavior will not be tolerated. For more information on bullying and harassment and the responsibility of schools to prevent and stop harassment, check out our FAQs on the subject (http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/titleixfrequentlyaskedquestions_2.pdf) and if you have any more questions or need help, please contact us at info@nwlc.org or (202) 588-5180.
Lee Jacobsen February 21, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Nat....Beyond the fact that the involved parties are students, why are the schools involved? The letters were not passed around in school, but in home mailboxes. There was no sexual harrassment in the schools, so the feds are out. The schools have no liability here. This is a civil matter between young adults and their parents about incidents that took place off school property. Put the onus where it belongs. On the young adults and their actions, and the consequences.
Teto February 22, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I guess the blame is on both: students sleeping around and the boys writing those letters
Connie February 24, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Shame on these boys that wrote and passed out the letter. I think that they should be punished big and really hard and they need to be taught some manners. I am sure that they would not like it if someone wrote this kind of letter about their sisters.
Freedom of Press March 01, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I think the boys do not deserve a hard punishment all they did was give their opinion is is called freedom of press these are our rights an they have a right to tell people Wat they think of them
Unknown March 01, 2012 at 06:13 PM
You guys keep saying "They boys" who are these boys? Are you 100% sure there wasnt any girls involved? Or the girls didnt write it for some attention and then regretted it because it got so big and started blaming other people? If your not sure then shutup.
Easydude March 02, 2012 at 01:09 AM
It takes two to tango. I am sure the girls are not innocent nor the boys. Boys will be boys and girls will be girls. Shame on both parties. Parents need to wake up and take more pride in their child's education rather than listening to their children complain. The crime did not take place on school property, the envolops, stamps or paper were not from the school.The letters were not hand delivered on school grounds. Thus, letters were delivered to two other schools districts. Therefore, the problem belongs to the parents, victims and predators. Is there legal action- - maybe. Times are changing. Parents need to help out in schools, hall duty, lunchroom, or assisting students. Make a community rather than destroy a community.
Lee Jacobsen March 02, 2012 at 06:44 AM
Easydude, your suggestions make sense, I wonder what the present school policy is regarding parents showing up during the school day, asking to observe teachers in 'action', helping out with study halls, monitoring halls, keeping the PSA to a low level, etc. The schools say the parents should be more 'involved' in their student's education, so are the schools making it easy for parents to participate during school hours? Home schooling is, of course, direct parent / student interaction. Montessori allows parents to show up anytime, but they need to 'check in' to make sure they are 'legit' parents, or observers , and are not themselves troublemakers. So, can parents just show up at schools and get involved? That may enlighten all parties involved, and keep the students and teachers focused, knowing that folk are really interested in what they are doing, and that it is important work.

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