The beating of 12-year-old boy by a group of classmates at a Southern California middle school may be linked to a Facebook posting encouraging kids to target redheads, authorities say.
A Facebook page stating that Friday was “Kick a Ginger Day,” referring to redheads and possibly inspired by an episode of the “South Park” series, may have sparked the injuries at the middle school, authorities said.
Thankfully, the boy was not seriously wounded. But Ginger Kids everywhere should be alert.
For those of you unfamiliar with Gingervitus, see this instructive South Park episode:
Update: Apparently, this kick-a-ginger day is huge!
When Nanaimo high school student Aaron Mishkin appeared for classes Thursday, he heard his classmates talking about “kick-a-ginger day.”
It was the first the 13-year-old redhead had heard about the online phenomenon, and initially he thought nothing of it.
“But then I left the class, and we have seven minutes to get to the next class, and I was amazed by the amount of people that kicked me along the way,” said Mishkin.
Over the course of the day, Mishkin figures he was kicked or hit about 80 times, all because of a Facebook group, apparently inspired by an episode of the satirical cartoon South Park that urged members to “kick a ginger” on Nov. 20.
In Sooke, west of Victoria, more than 20 students at Journey Middle School were suspended after shocked teachers received complaints they were kicking redheads.
Katie Marshall, 15, a student at New Westminster secondary, was also victimized Thursday.
“[I] was just walking down the halls and then a bunch of random people started kicking me and I had no idea why they were kicking me,” Marshall said.
“I started running away and then suddenly one of them said something like ‘Oh, I’m going to kick you. You have no soul, so you probably can’t feel pain either.’”
But some experts are getting concerned:
Cyber-bullying expert Karen Brown said the Facebook group was a serious concern.
“I’m just absolutely appalled,” said Brown, who is a sessional professor and PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University.
“It’s really unprecedented,” she said, explaining that it’s common to see smaller groups making fun of a specific teacher or student. But this phenomenon was different, she said, since it was international in scope and advocated violence.
“This is inciting hate,” she said. “This is tantamount to almost a hate website.”
And see this video about South Park, Kick-A-Ginger Day, and a Hate Crimes Charge in Canada against the creator of the kick-a-ginger facebook site.