You’ve heard of blaming the victim, but does the concept apply when the victim has been the target of bullying and is only 12 years old?
Gawker reports that a Florida school has threatened to expel a African-American student who claims she’s being bullied because of her natural hair.
Vanessa VanDyke says administrators at Orlando’s Faith Christian Academy told her that her hair was a “distraction” after she complained about being teased by her fellow students.
“There have been bullies in the school,” Vanessa’s mother, Sabrina, said in an interview with a local TV station. “There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to me that they’re blaming her.”
Sabrina VanDyke said her daughter had been attending the private school without incident for the past three months, but was only singled out recently after the bullying issue was brought before school officials.
The Faith Christian school does have hair rules in its dress code, including the stipulation that “hair must be of a natural colour and must not be a distraction.” The code also forbids mohawks, shaved-head designs and rat tails for its students.
So far, Vanessa is standing firm in her hairstyle for creative reasons.
“It says that I’m unique,” she said. “First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t want to fit in.”
But according to Vanessa’s mother, the school has now given her daughter two options: Cut and style her hair, or be expelled from school. All of which seems like inordinate pressure to put on a student in the seventh grade.
“I’m depressed about leaving my friends and people that I’ve known for a while,” Vanessa said. “But I’d rather have that than the principals and administrators picking on me and saying that I should change my hair.”
You go, girl.
Follow me on Twitter: @AndrewRyanTV