15 Year Old Student Commits Suicide One Week After Arrest For Streaking During Football Game
from the the-law-is-sometimes-wielded-by-the-most-frightening-bullies dept
We’ve seen the terrible results of various anti-bullying laws, most of them written in haste and named after the victim. The tragedies are real. The resulting laws are a mess. We’ve seen it with “Grace’s Law,” Maryland’s anti-bullying law written after a teen was (as it is often stated) bullied into committing suicide by online aggressors. Thanks to the overreaction, Maryland now has a direct line to Facebook to escalate takedown actions aimed at posts deemed to be “without societal value” by school administrators.
Christian Adamek, 15, hanged himself Wednesday and died this morning from his injuries, Madison County Coroner Craig Whisenant said today. Adamek’s death came less than a week after he was arrested for streaking across the Sparkman High football field during the Senators’ Sept. 27 football game against Grissom High School.
Though Sparkman High Principal Michael Campbell declined to comment on Adamek’s death today, he told AL.com/Huntsville’s news partner, WHNT News 19, on Tuesday that the incident Adamek was accused of could bring the teen major repercussions.
Adamek had been disciplined by the school district, though details of that discipline were not made public, and he faced legal charges. Sparkman High administrators recommended that Adamek have a hearing in the Madison County court system to determine if formal charges would be filed, WHNT reported.
WHNT has memory-holed its coverage, possibly due to the fact that Sparkman High’s principal openly discussed Adamek’s case during a brief interview. He dodges specifics, but he does drop the names of a few possible charges. (Video available here – also saved from the memory hole.)
Campbell explains minor crime can be a major ordeal. While the principal was not at liberty to discuss the specific disciplinary actions taken by the school, he did confirm the student was not at school Tuesday.
“There’s the legal complications,” says Campbell, “public lewdness and court consequences outside of school with the legal system as well as school consequences that the school system has set up.”
While he was not at liberty to divulge details that lead to the indecent display, Campbell says the incident was much more than a mere prank.
“This situation was totally different, something not related to that at all.”
Now, Principal Campbell’s words are unclear. but he hints that there’s something more to this than just the streaking event. Or, given the fact that he really shouldn’t be talking about a case that covered both by school privacy policies and the shelter of juvenile crime laws, he may just be trying to muddy the water a bit.
Other details have emerged. Adamek was facing expulsion according to his sister. He was arrested and was potentially facing charges for public lewdness and indecent exposure, the latter of which is tied to Alabama’s sex offender laws. Long story short, Adamek could have found himself registered as a sex offender as a result of his streaking.
We don’t know what other factors played into Adamek’s decision to take his own life, but being faced with a future as a “sex offender” couldn’t have been pleasant, even if the odds of that happening were extremely slim.
Scott Greenfield asks the obvious question: how will legislators honor Adamek?
When a teenager commits suicide because he felt bullied by others who said mean things about him, there is invariably a law passed to make sure it never happens again. In the pursuit of a perfect world, no child should ever feel so badly as to do himself harm. What law will they pass for Christian Adamek?
There are many things that can be said about the streak, that it was immature and stupid. No doubt someone will cry that it created a sexually hostile environment, as seems to be the cry with all things involving nudity. In response to those who call this a juvenile prank, someone will passionately explain the grave harm this does to the moral fabric of society…
And so the Sparkman High School powers of saving grace decided to drop every bomb they had on Christian Adamek. They’ll show him. He’ll never do anything like that again. And indeed, he won’t.
His fellow students called him a “legend” on Twitter. His school ensured he would greatly regret his childish act. In between, there are many, many unanswered questions, but given the general inability of most school administrators to see immature behavior as anything more than punishable violations, it’s completely conceivable that Adamek had the book thrown at him. That he was arrested is indication enough that the school wished to reestablish its power through a show of force.
Did this lead directly to Adamek’s suicide? There’s no way to know for sure, but it probably was a factor. It’s never as simple as it appears. Any suicide tied to social media bullying is more complex than the ultra-thin media coverage that often accompanies it. Suicide is usually related to a culmination of events, not one single incident, but a sudden sense of hopelessness can greatly contribute to the unfortunate decision.
And for those who might point out that Adamek had only a slim chance of being charged with two misdemeanors and placed on Alabama’s sex offender registry, let me just point out that the reality of the situation isn’t immediately apparent to those trapped inside, not while the machinery is still in motion.
Was Aaron Schwartz really going to go to jail for dozens of years? The odds are that his sentence would have been much lighter than what was being presented by the government’s prosecutors. Any amount of prison time is hell to face for most people, but staring into a chasm that has suddenly opened up under your feet and seeing nothing but blackness staring back is seriously debilitating, even for otherwise healthy, happy people.
Adamek was likely being presented with the worst case scenario this early in the process. He would have expected some repercussions, but it’s unlikely he considered that he’d be arrested, much less facing a possible sex offender status. During that week following his arrest, the worst case scenario would have replayed repeatedly in his mind.
How will the school spin this one? Will Sparkman’s administration feel justified that it stood up to one teen and his childish action and saved the school from an unimaginable fate?
So did you show him, Principal Campbell? Are you pleased that your rules served their purpose? When you decided that the “legend,” the laughter, the applause would destroy the decorum of your school, did you consider that the price would be one young man’s life?
Chances are it won’t spend much time defending itself. Why should it? It has school policy and criminal law on its side. It did the “right” thing. And either directly or indirectly as a result of the principal’s decision to make one student “aware of the consequences,” a 15-year-old student is no longer alive.