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.

What happens when a teen is “bullied to death” 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.

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Comments on “15 Year Old Student Commits Suicide One Week After Arrest For Streaking During Football Game”

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Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Any one know if he was on any medications

Indeed. As I pointed out back when the Aaron Schwartz story broke, suicide is considered prima facie evidence of mental instability. There are plenty of people who face legal problems–both of the “trumped up” variety and the “of their own making” variety–all the time, and the vast majority of the time, they don’t end up deciding to end it all.

Whatever the school may or may not have done wrong in their handling of the case, Christian Adamek’s blood is on his own hands and no one else’s, and it’s frankly insulting to our intelligence to claim (or insinuate) otherwise.

stimoceiver (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Any one know if he was on any medications

On Oct 9th, 2013 @ 1102 am, The Groove Tiger wrote:

> Yeah it’s not like teenagers are normally chemically imbalanced or anything.

The idea that chemical imbalance of the brain is in any way normal or even common is perpetuated most by those whose livelihood is tied either directly or indirectly to the prescription of psychotropic drugs.

Many scholarly articles have come out in the past 2 years supporting the conclusion that our society is dangerously over medicated on such substances. Here’s one summary from a Scientific American author, and you can find many more peer reviewed journal and lay articles to support this contention: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2012/03/05/are-psychiatric-medications-making-us-sicker/

Benjo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Any one know if he was on any medications

You sound like you are saying society owes nothing to children and people who are mentally unstable. Or that people with mental health issues only have themselves to blame if they kill themselves.

Either way, I don’t agree at all. Mental health problems are diseases. In this specific instance I don’t believe we know enough to lay the blame at anyone’s feet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Any one know if he was on any medications

Right, because you can actually back that up..

Mental instability is a really vague term.. When I hit my thumb with a hammer I get really unstable you know !

Mental instability is also induced in the form of temporary depression from perfectly normal things, like the death of a loved one, loosing a job, a previously pregnant woman after delivering, and so on..

In clear, that’s a big fallacy for making people feel better, and look away.

Legal bullying, is just that, legal bullying..
Nobody’s gonna save your ass from it, and there’s nothing keeping anyone from doing it, but its there, it happens everydays, and nobody gives a shit until it happens to them..

That’s pretty similar to high school bullying no ? Except when its adults starting it, its fine ! Adults are all obviously responsible and mature people..

Anonymous Coward says:

what a tragedy and all because of the overreach executed by law enforcement.
if people cant see what is going on, they must be asleep. and dont think it isn’t/wont affect you, because it will. little by little, everything is becoming an offense. permission is needed for so much more than before. whoever is pulling the strings here needs to be exposed. those who are going blindly along with what is wanted, are more guilty than the one giving the orders. we are going to be in deep shit soon, and no matter how high the boots, it wont keep it out!!

Another Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Christian Adamek, 15,

It was the over reaction of the principal & super. The only proper protest against this terrible act by them would be if the entire student body streaked the next ballgame. To quote a popular song from a long time ago – “He ain’t rude; he ain’t crude; he’s just in the mood to run in the nude.”

out_of_the_blue says:

You too try to turn kid's death to own purposes.

You’re mostly vague because have no real hook and your logic must dodge too obvious of exploitation. So you conjure up a hyperbolic shift of blame onto school administrators who MUST somehow punish stoopidity. You don’t have any actual evidence, so play up vague hedging in a press conference as some draconian plot to ruin the kid’s life.

The initiating act was solely by the student — and stoopid. School administration couldn’t reasonably predict result and are in no way to blame that I see. Schools can’t handle unlimited stoopidity that disrupts activities with illegal acts. The rights of one idiot to run naked don’t exceed the rights of the many to enjoy the game without unwanted stoopidity.

Then you egregiously drag in “data liberator” Aaron Schwartz. — But the real point in common and lesson to learn is that both would be alive today if hadn’t gone out of their way to commit unlawful acts. — Schwartz sneaked into a closet to do his automated “liberating” because he knew that such downloading was NOT authorized. You can argue the law is too draconian, but basic fact is that Schwartz was an arrogant weenie who knew his actions were dicey.

Another point in common is that kids can’t grasp that the system WILL punish them ruthlessly. After decades of cultural permissiveness, punishments have become all-or-nothing, which is effectively unworkable. — It’s an argument for frequent small but real punishments ’cause wagging your finger just never works with either kids or puppies. — But kids get stoopider the larger are the bounds, the easier are their lives. Kids will always try to outrage decency with stoopid and petty acts of “rebellion”. Seems to have greatly surprised both these that they crossed a line and would actually be punished, when they clearly expected to be regarded as minor godlets for being stoopid.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: You too try to turn kid's death to own purposes.

I know I said I’d never reply to OOTB again, but I had to here.
Your spelling and grammar are atrocious (stoopid is spelled with a u, not two O’s for fuck’s sake. Is your spell-check deliberately disabled?), your logic is completely all over the place and once again, you have put forth zero effort into actually thinking about this. You just vomited a few paragraphs about how we’re wrong because the LAW IS THE LAW and no matter how over-the-top the law is, it’s that or our kids will run around rioting.

corwin155 (profile) says:

Re: You too try to turn kid's death to own purposes.

Man your one those people who want a police state.

You are now a Criminal now
for Just Being Born in the

It’s because of secret Laws
made by Secret Courts that
are classified TOP secret so
your not allowed to know
Those in Power will create
secret Laws made by Secret
Courts that are classified
TOP secret so your not
allowed to know about.

How else does the NSA and CIA
get to spy on anyone they
please, despite their mandate
Not to Spy on Americans.

Ratt (profile) says:

The school went to far!

I live near Sparkmen High School and the pressure put on the kid for something too trivial as streaking boggles the mind. The principal took this way too far by seeking charges from the county. I know twenty years ago, the kids would have got detention and told not to do it again, if he was caught. Its crazy to think the pressure this boy was under after being found out.

The whole situation could have transpired much differently if the school wasn’t so heavy handed!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The school went to far!

“That would involve voting– and if necessary, get the word out that this should be done.”

Which is when it all fails because someone’s money is more important unless there is another knee”JERK” reaction to it driving more stupid public outcry that got all of this started in the first damn place!

Mauricio (profile) says:

UN Children Rights

Lately there has been a long list of articles on excessive punishment for kids that seem to be just messing around. A few days ago The Economist ran an article in one of its blogs where they mention that only three countries haven’t ratified the UN Convention on children’s rights: South Sudan, Somalia, and the US. If you are like me and you are not sure what ratifying means, a treaty is not legally binding until it’s ratified by a country’s government.

One of the key aspects of the treaty is that it forbids “cruel and degrading punishment”. The article proposes that the Government (particularly the republican side) has rejected to ratify this because they see it as a way to interfere in how the country’s citizens handle and educate their kids.

Seeing articles like this makes you wonder if such an interference would really be such a bad thing.

You can find the article here: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/10/economist-explains-2

corwin155 (profile) says:

Re: UN Children Rights

Don’t the Democrats own most of the senate?
how else did Obama care pass when republicans didn’t have enough seats in the senate to it vote down.
if Democrats wanted this to be ratified then it would be.
and since it hasn’t been ratified i would have to say that its Democrats that are blocking despite you quoting someone who says its republicans who are blocking this ratification.

Anonymous Coward says:

I help out with some of Sparkman’s sports programs, and spend some time at the school.

What happened here is solely on Principal Michael Campbell. The rest of the faculty laughed it off as a prank, the kind that teenagers pull. They thought it was funny.
But Principal Campbell with his “super Jesus” attitude said, “No! This is a very serious matter!” He was told multiple times by the faculty that there was no reason to do this to a 15 year old boy, and that he was going too far. So what should have been handled with a weeks detention and cleaning out the locker-rooms turned into possible sex offender charges; ruining his life for being a teenager.

It’s disgusting how that man treated Christian.

A note on Christian: The kid was a little odd, but most teenagers are. His grades weren’t just good, they were excellent. The kids at the school all thought the prank was “totally awesome.” So clearly he wasn’t driven to suicide by teasing from his peers.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

makes sense...

we ‘teach’ killers that killing is wrong by killing them…

we ‘teach’ bullies that bullying is wrong by bullying them…

we ‘teach’ kids that _____ (fill in the blank with unknowable, mutable, quixotic, vindictive, and unenforceable rule) is wrong by terrorizing them…

the ‘administration’ of all ‘our’ (sic) institutions are simply goons to enforce broadly worded rules of no consequence, enforced randomly and violently…

The State is now the number one bully in all our lives…
we are all criminals to the state; while the criminal state gets away -literally- with murder most foul…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Timmy says:

UN Children UnRights....SERIOUSLY?!?

This is not a case of children’s rights….

It is tragic that a child took his life over being punished, but it lies on the parents of the child to teach their children that actions have consequences, both positive and negative. Parents are afraid to punish children appropriately, which leads to the child overreacting when appropriate punishments are enacted. You are fucking delusional if you think everyone wins, everybody succeeds, and everybody gets the gold star! Streaking was a common ordeal in the past, BUT streakers then knew if they got caught, there would be severe consequences! Today, bad punishment is expected to go unpunished, and praised for not be worse!

JMT says:

Re: UN Children UnRights....SERIOUSLY?!?

Their should never be “severe consequences” for streaking. Punishments should be in proportion to the offence, and IMO streaking barely reaches the level where the police should ever need to be involved. I’m sure the school had far more appropriate options available to them.

The Punisher says:

Re: UN Children UnRights....SERIOUSLY?!?

Sooo… I think the standard “severe Punishment” that was given out at my school for streaking was a weeks detention. Repeated offences probably got you a couple of days off and your parents were probably brought in.

Dunno somehow that seems reasonable to me

Bamagirl says:

Re: Re: UN Children UnRights....SERIOUSLY?!?

A weeks detention maybe a suspension and some comunity service would have been the more approiate punishiment…
Seriously I see more indecent exposure and lewdness on the TV, while listening to the radio and in the streets..
The principle DID go beyond his responsibilities and put more words out than nessary.. He spoke of something he didnt have legal rights or knowledge to speak of so yes he is some what responsible ..

Naomi says:

A school is meant to make opportunities, not take them away.

There’s not enough media on school administration-caused suicide, and I feel that some of them that conclude as a case of bullying haven’t been thoroughly researched. Oftentimes, it is because a student has something taken away that they feel they cannot live without – whether it be a reputation, friends, or school activity – and that is why they take their own life without regard for others such as their parents. It is something personal to them.

I know that when I was bullied in school, it was not the bullying that hurt. What I remember most clearly was the day a TEACHER berated me and called me a liar when I’d forgotten my homework (the one day out of the entire year, mind you. Straight A student) and that it was because my binders had been switched out by my mother WHO CALLED IN THAT SHE WAS BRINGING THEM.

ANother example? A girl had threatened to stab me. Reasonably, I hid in the bathroom that class and told teachers afterward. What did they do? Completely ignored the threat. Punished me for skipping class which disqualified me from the computer class I was joining which was the sole thing I’d been looking forward to at that school. I dropped out shortly after, feeling betrayed and I still haven’t quite worked through being able to rely on others. AS a result, I have varying knowledge in things from plumbing to law.

Rekrul says:

Society is to blame. I’m being serious.

Everyone today is so overly sensitive about anything that might possibly hint at sex, that they have lobbied for and supported ridiculous laws that turn the most trivial of things into crimes. Be overheard by an uptight woman while telling someone a dirty joke and you’ve committed the “crime” of sexual harassment. Pee in the bushes when there’s nobody around to see you and you’ve committed the “crime” of indecent exposure, even if you were completely shielded from view. A man goes to the park alone to eat lunch and because there are kids in view he’s committed the “crime” of… Well, I don’t know what the actual crime is, but I know that some cities have passed laws criminalizing the act of a man going to a park alone…

Common sense has gone right out the window. 🙁

john says:

suicide of hs student

Another example of over reacting. Suspend the kid a few days and move on, This is not criminal behavior and I’m in Law Enforcement. Most cops today look at this stuff and privately talk about the stupidity of the people who want charges. America is out of control cause we elect people who want to control everything. America is done, game over , everyone for himself now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Glad I'm not a US citizen

If I were the legal system have driven me into bankruptcy, put me in jail, killed my kids and raped my wife. And this would have been done with the full and tacit approval of the elected government and the legally appointed authorities.

Oh, and now that I’m on the NSA’s radar I guess they’ll just have to overthrow the government of the country I reside in if they want to get me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Christian Ademek

This is utterly tragic. On so many levels. A young life loss over the silliest of reasons. Bad judgement by Christian, maybe, but far far less serious than too much of what kids get up to. Streaking is nothing more than juvenile fun, and always has been. For Alabama to list it as a potential sex offender act is ridiculous and overkill (literally in this case). Campbell’s scare tactics are inexcusable and murderous. He needs to be taken off the public payroll, and kept away from all children for the rest of his life. It is reprehensible how this has played out and how it has been handled. Shameful beyond description.

scallywagy (profile) says:

political correctness

Sex offender list for streaking? America (Alabama) are we serious? The only thing that was offended was certain people?s sense of social political decorum, no one?s sexual parts got dangled with.

Some things are just too much weight even for adults, let alone impressionable 15 year old boys….


Anonymous Coward says:

To those of you who say it was Christian’s mental instability that drove him to suicide, must be utterly stupid. Have you ever been bullied? Of course, everyone has. How did that make you feel? Shitty, right? Christian didn’t just have a normal bully on his back, he had the school board. Facing something like that is exhausting and not to mention, scary, for a 15 year old. I knew Christian. He was an amazing person. Someone who was rarely ever upset. I will gladly take up for him, someone has to! Most of you commenting, I know, are adults. You need to look at this as if it were you at 15. Wouldn’t you be scared? Wouldn’t you feel trapped?

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