NAPLES, Fla. — Students at Naples Middle School who took part in “kick a Jew day,” were copying a prank they saw on the television show “South Park,” Collier School District’s superintendent said.
Superintendent Dennis Thompson said Tuesday people should know the incident, which has led to an overwhelming response from the public, was not spawned by religious intolerance.
In fact, two of the 10 students suspended for taking part in “kick a Jew day” come from Jewish families, he said.
Though one girl complained that she was kicked because she was Jewish, others who were kicked on Nov. 19 became victims for other reasons, Thompson said.
The school found that the students were motivated by the TV show and communications on the social networking site Facebook.
“What the school found out is that it wasn’t ‘kick a Jew day.’ It was a ‘kick a fill-in-the-blank day’,” Thompson said. “Many of the kids who kicked other students kicked someone they didn’t like or someone who is different. The kid who was kicked the most was new to the school. That, to me, is the tragedy. These kids picked on someone who was new to the school.” The new student is not Jewish.
“This is certainly not about religious intolerance. This is about, do you know who your child is communicating with? Do you know who your child is communicating about? The real lesson is that we need to understand what our kids watch and who they communicate with,” he said.
In South Park’s “Kick a Ginger Day” show, foul-mouthed Eric Cartman spreads the word at school that red-haired kids, or “gingers,” are genetically defective, evil, and out to get non-ginger students.
On Monday, two 12-year-olds and a 13-year-old in Los Angeles were arrested for bullying fellow red-headed students physically and over the Internet after they saw the episode and Facebook page.
Landon said until further notice, the school will focus the first 20 minutes of each day on character traits, beginning with respect and kindness.