The ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ produced millions of dollars for ALS, commonly called ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease.’ It was for a great cause and everyone expressed joy while joining the fund raiser. When five teenage boys used the challenge to abuse an autistic classmate, it wasn’t funny; it was cruel. It was reported Wednesday that the ice bucket pranksters will be prosecuted.
The attack happened on August 18th in the Bay Village area of Cleveland Ohio. The five boys filled a bucket with urine, tobacco spit, and water, pouring it over the head of a ‘special needs’ boy; humiliating him. He simply ‘wanted to belong.’
The pranksters, ages 14 to 16 posted their cruel attack on Instagram. The victim was seen standing in front of what appeared to be a garage wearing only his underwear, expecting to take part in the ice bucket event, when one or more of the boys poured a brownish liquid over his head and body.
All five boys have been known to ‘hang around together,’ frequently carrying out practical jokes. The Prosecuting Attorney for the juvenile division of Cuyahoga County is Duane Deskins. He said that he does not consider this an ordinary prank, that it was ‘clearly different.’ Three of the teenagers will be charged with assault, delinquency, and disorderly conduct; the remaining two will be charged with disorderly conduct only.
The victim and his family have received an outpouring of support from friends, family, and people whom they do not know. The host of ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ comedian Drew Carey, offered $10,000 to help find his attackers.
Whether they are labeled as ‘pranks’ or ‘hazing,’ acts such as these have no place in our society. This ‘ice bucket’ incident and the recent case of ‘hazing’ at War Memorial High School in Sayreville, New Jersey, do not fit the definition of a ‘prank.’ They are both physical and mental assaults, and have the ability to cause long-term damage to the victims. The old adage that it’s just ‘boys being boys,’ or ‘girls being catty’ are far from the reality of cruel treatment acted upon a weaker or defenseless victim.
The study of ‘why men rape women’ reveals the mental state of those who attack their victims. Rape has little to do with sex; it is a crime of violence; while one or more persons exercise dominance over another.
Both the ice bucket prank, and the hazing of freshman football players share this characteristic. Cruel and sadistic action is more easily performed by a group than an individual. The ‘pack’ mentality grants immunity to individuals and places the responsibility for actions on the collective. None of the boys who attacked their classmate would have performed the act as an individual. A single football player would not have invaded the body of a freshman member of the team by himself.
Being a member of the ‘pack’ grants individuals status in their peer group. The status may be hollow, and fleeting, but for an immature boy or girl it ranks high in importance. Our society promotes membership in groups, and discourages uniqueness and individual thought and action. More thinkers are needed and fewer ‘joiners.’ These ‘Ice bucket pranksters’ should be prosecuted to the full ability of the law. Those close to the five boys claim they have shown regret for their deed. If that is true, this may save them from committing far worse ‘pranks’ in the future.
By James Turnage