Labels further victimize student

In Joel Moreno’s KOMO story (“Teen recovering after attack in high school bathroom”) on the tragic assault at our school he suggested it was a case of “bullying gone too far,” and several times used the words “special ed student” to describe the victim. I have to wonder, therefore, if he or his editor actually care how bullying works, because they just hung a bullseye on that student that will follow him for the rest of his career.

His editor might like to know it’s not called “Special Ed”; it’s called Learning Support, because that student gets the same “ed” the rest, just with targeted support. Joel knew that, because our principal told him and even advised against labeling the boy. Joel’s response? “We feel it’s an important part of the story.”

Right. Story. It isn’t about caring about the kid — or even about the problem of bullying — it’s about salable stories. And Joel’s instincts for that were dead on — today, CNN picked it up, and the label went national.

A thing we learn in Journalism at Mountlake Terrace High School is a code of journalist ethics, so we don’t become a lazy, soulless tabloid. Joel just showed us why.

By the way, are there cases of “bullying gone just right?”

Stephen Merlino

Teacher

Mountlake Terrace High School

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