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Police investigate school violence video (09/30/2012)
By Sarah Squires

Winona Police are investigating an assault, believed to have occurred last week on Winona Senior High School grounds, that was captured on video and then posted on the social networking web site Facebook.

In the video, a female student attacks another girl near the baseball fields and the “smoking tree.” The assaulter runs up to the teen girl and appears to grab her by the hair or neck, then repeatedly punches her in the face and head while the victim pleads for her attacker to stop.

The assault appears to have been captured by one of the attacker’s friends with a cell phone. The video was then uploaded to Facebook, and the comments that followed from the alleged attacker and others joke about the incident, some suggesting the assailant should have “kept going at her.” More than a dozen teens clicked the Facebook “like” button on the attack video.

Several school administrators, including Superintendent Scott Hannon and Winona Senior High School Principal Kelly Halvorson, were not at school on Friday and unavailable for comment. Officials at the Winona Police Department were also unavailable for comment Friday, although an investigator confirmed she had seen the video and that the incident was under investigation.

The attack video appears to have been recorded on or before Tuesday, September 25. One parent reported to the Winona Post that by Friday, the student who appears to be the attacker was attending school and did not appear to have been disciplined with suspension or expulsion by school officials.

“The fact is, my daughter has come home many times and talked about seeing kids getting beaten on at school, and yet I don’t think that we see that reflected through police reports of kids going through the system." The parent recalled times in which the child or children had witnessed violence at school—serious violence with injuries—and the attackers would be back in school after just a few days. “So I think that there’s a perception that nothing really terribly serious happens to you if you do this kind of thing,” the parent said. “Bullies are not afraid.”

Multiple parents have approached the Winona Post in the past with concerns about violence that has gone unchecked at the high school; some have contemplated removing their child or children from school because of bullying and assaults. Some have done so. Most of the parents who spoke with Winona Post reporters have feared speaking on the record with the newspaper for fear it could mean more bullying for their children.

Implementing serious consequences is necessary, the parent added, to curb future student violence. “I’m so worried about that culture being pervasive at a school where kids are supposed to go and learn. The other kids are afraid to talk about it because the bullies seem to get off without any serious penalties for assaulting someone.”

Minnesota law provides law enforcement officials with the ability to keep investigative data private while an investigation into a crime is ongoing. After charges are filed or a case is dismissed, the public typically has the ability to inspect investigative data, although when a juvenile is involved, some data may remain private unless a felony or certain kinds of more serious charges are sought by prosecutors. 


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