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Two More Yearbook Fails: A Graphic Depiction of Bullying and an Accusation of Child Porn

By Meredith Carroll |

Mamaroneck High School

Since when is "Most Feared by Freshman" an appropriate topic for print in a high school yearbook?

There have been inappropriate articles and pictures about cheerleaders, and labels of girls as “skinny” and “fat.” Now comes word of child porn and graphic depictions of alleged bullies.

Two more high schools. Two more yearbooks scandals. Two more faculty advisers seemingly MIA.

Big Bear High School students are allegedly walking around with child porn in their yearbooks. And Mamaroneck High School students are in possession of yearbooks that show an alleged bully holding a dismembered head and hand. And so I ask yet again – where are the faculty advisers?

First of all, let me disclose that I went to Mamaroneck High School, which is in New York. And I was a member of the yearbook staff for three years. Mr. Whartenby, the yearbook adviser when I was in school (once upon a time), must have retired because he never would have allowed this to happen (the photo’s caption, by the way, is not seen in the picture at issue above, but reads “Freshman’s Worst Nightmare: Fear Factor”).

The Mahiscan, Mamaroneck’s yearbook, features a superlative section each year in which seniors vote in categories like Most Likely to Succeed and Best Car. How did a superlative category called “Most Feared by Freshman” even make it on to the list without being red-flagged by someone? Isn’t the existence of the category just a perpetuation of bullying? And even if the definition of the category were open to interpretation, how did they get away with that final graphic? It’s disturbing on many levels.

In response to outraged parents, the school district’s superintendent sent a letter to parents, according to the Larchmont Loop, which read, “This item contradicts the clear message our district has been sending throughout the year that bullying will not be tolerated . . . addressing the problem of hazing or having upperclassmen bully freshmen is central to our effort to promote a safe learning environment and positive interactions among students. As a district, we have acted on numerous fronts to confront inappropriate upperclassmen behavior.”

And:

“Moving forward, we will ensure that the faculty adviser of the yearbook conducts a thorough review of each page so that the yearbook’s content is consistent with the District’s code of conduct/beliefs and there are no offensive photos or statements suggesting we condone inappropriate behavior.”

Moving forward? What were the responsibilities of the faculty adviser up until this point, exactly?

And in Big Bear Lake, Calif., students were asked to turn in their yearbooks after they were printed with a photo of two students “possibly engaged in a sex act,” according to authorities.

In the background of a photo of a school dance, a 17-year-old boy is seen with his hand inside the clothing of a 15-year-old girl “in a way that suggests sexual penetration,” said CBS News.

“The photo was taken at a dance and the suspect and victim are not the focus of the photo. They are in the background and likely didn’t know they were in the photo,” said San Bernadino sheriff’s spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman.

After investigators were notified about the photo earlier this week, school employees and detectives started taking back yearbooks from students.

Bachman said the yearbook adviser didn’t notice the offensive photo: “When the adviser scanned the photo, it was very easy to overlook.”

The students, however, picked up on it. And those who haven’t turned in their copy have been earned they could face a charge of possessing child porn.

What’s the solution – beyond faculty advisers, since they don’t literally seem to be working — to ensure that high school yearbooks are produced in a responsible, appropriate and mature fashion?

Image: Larchmont Loop

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About Meredith Carroll

meredith-carroll

Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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One thought on “Two More Yearbook Fails: A Graphic Depiction of Bullying and an Accusation of Child Porn

  1. editor says:

    Thank u for your intelligent post.

    Polly kreisman
    Publisher
    TheLoop

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