Fla. bullying: School, experts divide on locker room supervision


By BAIRD HELGESON
The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA — The sexual assault of a Walker Middle School student has revealed a divide between bullying experts and some Hillsborough County school officials.

They agree adult supervision is a key to reducing bullying, but local school officials say that locker rooms pose no more risk for trouble than hallways and classrooms.

So far, the incident at Walker has not caused a shift in policy or practices throughout the district.

Psychologists who study teenage bullying say locker rooms include a volatile ingredient the other places lack, making them worthy of increased supervision.

“What gets added to the locker room is nudity,” said Rona Novick, an expert on bullying from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

“You are more exposed,” she said. “In a locker room, there’s a recipe that can bring out the worst in student behavior.”

Kids in middle school locker rooms often stray into areas of abuse, Novick and other experts said. Sometime students act different in a group than they would individually, and are less inclined to tattle on each other.

“It can be sexual innuendo at best,” Novick said. “But it can be sexual assault, at worst.”

Investigators say four teens bullied a Walker Middle School student before sexually assaulting him with a broomstick and hockey stick in a locker room at the school. The victim told investigators he was assaulted 10 to 12 times.

Lee Louis Myers, 14, Raymond A. Price-Murray, 14, Randall John Moye, 14, and Diemante Roberts, 15, have been charged as adults. Each faces four counts of sexual battery and has pleaded not guilty. Full story.

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