Probe reopened in case of teen's alleged rape
Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, struggled emotionally after she was allegedly gang-raped two years ago -- a case authorities initially didn't press charges on, but have since reopened.
April 12th, 2013
10:33 PM ET

Probe reopened in case of teen's alleged rape

Police in eastern Canada announced Friday they "are reopening the investigation involving Rehtaeh Parsons," the 17-year-old who tried to kill herself after she was allegedly gang-raped and bullied.

Rehtaeh, a high school student from Halifax, Nova Scotia, was taken off life support Sunday, three days after she attempted to hang herself.

The HRM Partners in Policing - which includes Halifax Regional Police and a locally based division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police - said in a statement Friday it was reviewing the case "in light of new and credible information that has recently been brought forward to police."

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Filed under: Bullying • Canada • Nova Scotia
Thursday's intriguing people
Felicia Pearson played an assassin on HBO's "The Wire." She was arrested in real life this week.
March 10th, 2011
11:30 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Felicia Pearson

When she was 14, Pearson shot and killed a 15-year-old girl, her autobiography says. Pearson served time in prison and was eventually cast in the HBO drama “The Wire.” She played “Snoop,” an assassin. In a 2007 Washington Post profile, Pearson said her experience in the streets helped her be more authentic in the show, which she said saved her life. Horror writer Stephen King once called her "perhaps the most terrifying female villain to ever appear in a television series." On Thursday, WBAL-TV reported that Pearson, now 30, was arrested with about 30 other people in an early-morning drug raid conducted by hundreds of police and federal agents.


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Filed under: Bullying • District of Columbia • Drugs • Islam • Maryland • Most Intriguing People • Pennsylvania • Politics • Religion • Showbiz • Terrorism • TV • U.S.
Philadelphia school district agrees to measures to quell anti-Asian violence
December 15th, 2010
06:25 PM ET

Philadelphia school district agrees to measures to quell anti-Asian violence

The Philadelphia School District signed a two-and-a-half year civil rights agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to address anti-Asian immigrant violence at a Philadelphia high school.

“Schools have an obligation to ensure a safe learning environment for everyone. We will continue to use all of the tools in our law enforcement arsenal to ensure that all students can go to school without fearing harassment,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division said.

The complaints were triggered by events on December 3, 2009, during which large numbers of Asian immigrant students from South Philadelphia High School were assaulted in and around the school throughout the day.

The attacks followed years of harassment against Asian students at South Philadelphia High School. In the days after the incident, more than 50 Asian students organized an eight-day boycott of the school in efforts to draw attention to what they felt was an inadequate response by the school to ongoing harassment and violence.


October 27th, 2010
08:07 PM ET

Arkansas schools officials condemn anti-gay comments

The Arkansas Department of Education has condemned anti-gay comments made by a local school board member and posted on a social networking site.

Midland School District Vice President Clint McCance wrote on his personal Facebook page that he wanted gay people to commit suicide, according to The Advocate, a newspaper focusing on gay news. McCance used the terms "queer" and "fag" repeatedly, promised to disown his own children if they were gay, and stated that he enjoys "the fact that [gay people] often give each other AIDS and die."

A strongly worded statement signed by Dean Stanley, superintendent of the Midland School District, disavowed the remarks. "The district strives to foster an environment that discourages all forms of bullying," the statement read, "and an environment that encourages a safe and productive educational climate of all of our students. The district is very diligent in pursuing and addressing bullying of any variety on our campuses."

A separate statement sent to CNN by Julie Thompson, director of communications for the Arkansas Department of Education, said the department is "dismayed to see that a school board official would post something of this insensitive nature on a public forum like Facebook."


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Filed under: Arkansas • Bullying • Gay and lesbian
October 20th, 2010
07:40 PM ET

Taking a stand for gay teens in the #BeAHero challenge

We’ve never seen quite so much purple.

For today’s “Be A Hero” challenge, we invited you to take a stand against anti-gay harassment around the world.

Hundreds of you joined the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)’s Spirit Day by wearing purple, changing your Twitter profile or recording a message for the “It Gets Better” project.

The responses are still coming in through Twitter and iReport, but here are some of our favorites:


October 20th, 2010
10:10 AM ET

iReport challenge: #BeAHero for gay teens

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at

The recent rash of teen suicides has put a harsh spotlight on anti-gay bullying. It’s a problem throughout the world, as evidenced by today’s story about the Ugandan newspaper that published 100 pictures of gays and lesbians in the country and called for their hanging.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has dubbed today Spirit Day. The advocacy group is asking people to wear purple to show support for gay youth and “stand UP to the bullies.”

Here’s your “Be A Hero” challenge for today:

If you support the mission to end anti-LGBT bullying around the world, do one or more of the following:

– Put on purple, take a photo or video of yourself and upload it to iReport

– Change your Twitter profile or Facebook page to purple

– Tweet: I’m wearing purple to end anti-LGBT bullying. #spiritday #BeAHero

– Record a video for the “It Gets Better” YouTube project (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the latest to join the campaign)

Then tell us what you did in the comments.

Check back this afternoon for the results of today’s challenge.

October 15th, 2010
08:26 PM ET

Councilman's emotional plea about gay bullying goes viral

It started with an emotional 13-minute-long plea at a local council meeting in Fort Worth, Texas.

Councilman Joel Burns struggled to maintain his composure Wednesday as he shared his story about being gay and bullied as a child and how the recent rash of child suicides because of bullying has torn him apart.

That 13-minute plea caught national attention in part because of his brutal honesty. The video, which has gone viral on YouTube, has already amassed more than 540,000 page views and is being regarded on the web as one of the most emotional pleas about bullying children who are gay.

"I was cornered after school by some older kids who roughed me up," Burns said during the council meeting. "They said that I was a f**, and that I should die and go to Hell where I belonged."

Burns struggled to maintain his composure during that plea - his voice was quivering and at times he cried - but he continued on and in such a public forum, and in such a personal and blunt way continued to share his story. Burns told CNN in his first national interview Friday that he felt he had to say something because it was clear that not enough was being done to stem the crisis.

And as someone who dealt with the same issues, he wanted to share the advice he wished someone had told him as a child.

"The reality of it is, it gets better in ways you can never fathom as a 13- or 14-year-old. Times are dark, and you're either being harassed or bullied inside the school or outside the school. You have a household that may not accept you; there may be any kind of abuse around it," Burns told CNN. "There's just no hope that there's life after your adolescence and after your teenaged years. I have often thought, wouldn't it be wonderful if I could go back to the me that existed as a teenager that really didn't think that the future was all that bright at times, and show him just the amazing, wonderful things that have happened in the course of my adult life?"


October 11th, 2010
03:55 PM ET

Burned boy: Attackers 'got what they deserved'

Michael Brewer, seen in March, says he is getting counseling for his anger.

Michael Brewer says the boys who set him on fire a year ago, "got what they deserved."

Brewer said he wished the three boys who poured alcohol on him and torched him with a lighter were "right here" so he could deal with them himself.

Brewer added he's getting counseling for his anger. His remarks came during a 16th birthday party thrown for Brewer by residents of a retirement facility near Fort Lauderdale.

The seniors befriended the teen after hearing about the incident which had Brewer fighting for his life.

The three boys who set Brewer on fire a year ago have been charged as adults and face attempted murder charges. All three remain in jail.

An apparent dispute over a bicycle and a music CD set off the events.

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Filed under: Bullying • Child safety • Crime • Florida • Justice
October 7th, 2010
10:31 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

The five most popular stories on in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse.

Man tells of chase that led to girl's freedom: Some may call it chance, but Victor Perez believes a higher power was involved Tuesday when he chased after a vehicle suspected of carrying an abducted 8-year-old.

'Sexted' photo leads to bullying: At age 13, Hope Witsell struggled in middle school. Not because her class work at Shields Middle School in Ruskin, Florida, was challenging, but because Hope was being bullied.


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Filed under: Bullying • Crime • Death Penalty • Most Popular
October 6th, 2010
07:46 PM ET

Lawyers for Rutgers student caution against 'uninformed assumptions'

Lawyers for Rutgers University student Molly Wei said they welcomed an investigation into the suicide of freshman Tyler Clementi, saying it would clear her of charges she faces in connection with his death. 

"This is a tragic situation. But this tragedy has also unfairly led to rampant speculation and misinformation, which threaten to overwhelm the actual facts of the matter.  Those true facts will reveal that Molly Wei is innocent. Molly committed no crime. Her remarkable reputation is being unjustly tarnished by uninformed and incorrect assumptions," attorneys Rubin Sinins and Eric Kahn said in a statement Wednesday.

Wei, 18, and Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, have been charged with invasion of privacy. The pair allegedly placed a camera in Clementi's dorm room without his knowledge and streamed his sexual encounter with another man online, the Middlesex County, New Jersey, prosecutor's office said.

"Molly is a wonderful, caring and talented young woman with a bright future. That future is being threatened by unfounded attacks upon her character. This classic rush to judgment ignores Molly’s basic right to fairness and presumption of innocence. We can only hope, for everyone’s sake, that the truth will not be forever lost in the process. Neither Molly nor anyone else should be used to further the agenda of others," the attorneys said.


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Filed under: Bullying • New Jersey
October 5th, 2010
10:23 AM ET

Bystanders play key role in bullying, expert says

Catherine Bradshaw is associate director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence

While bullying is often seen as a two-character act, psychologists say bystanders, including parents, teachers and students, can play critical roles in either enabling or defusing bullying.

"When other kids that were bystanders intervened on behalf of the victim, the victim was less likely to experience anxiety or depression," said Dr. Catherine Bradshaw, associate director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence.

However, "when other kids try to [step] in, the situation can escalate," Bradshaw cautions. So if a bystander comes to the defense of a bullying victim, she says, it should be done carefully, without the threat of physical violence, in a bid to ratchet down the confrontation.

Parents must not ignore their children's complaints of bullying, Bradshaw said, but should instead notify school officials. A wrong approach for parents, she said, is for the parent to say, "Buck up, you can take care of yourself."

There's also a clear strategy for teachers to employ in an effort to curb bullying behavior. Bradshaw recommends that teachers intervene immediately; separate the students, talking first with the victim, then with the bully.

Bradshaw, an associate professor of psychology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, develops and implements anti-bullying and school-based violence prevention programs in Maryland.

Hear Bradshaw explain the dynamic here:

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Filed under: Bullying • Child safety • Maryland • U.S.
October 4th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

On the Radar: Terror alert, bullying and Rahm Emanuel

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Terror alert - Americans who are traveling in Europe have been warned to watch out for anything unusual after concerns were raised that terrorist groups could be targeting European capitals. European officials say they're focusing on a possible terror cell in Hamburg, Germany. The alert follows the arrest of a German citizen, who is reportedly cooperating in the investigation.

Bullying - CNN explains why its spending this week focusing on bullying. The coverage comes in  the wake of a gay male student at Rutgers University freshman who took his own life after his roommate and another student allegedly filmed him having sex and streamed the private moment online. Does technology change the game for bullies and their victims? How do you prevent your child or friend from being bullied? What motivates a bully? After a controversial story from Michigan last week, we ask - when is it harassment and when is it bullying?

CNN's Carol Costello interviews the father of an 11-year-old who committed suicide after being bullied.'s Stephanie Chen tells the story of a 13-year-old who was relentlessly bullied online. Anderson Cooper talks to a panel of teens about bullying.

Facebook film - On the lighter side of social networking comes the mega-success of the movie "The Social Network," which chronicles the rise of Facebook. It was tops at the box office this weekend, raking in about $23 million. Stay tuned to This Just In for's list of top five movies we'd like to see made about Web stars.

Listen up - Chances are good former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will use social networking to boost his run for mayor of Chicago. He's kicking off his campaign today with a "Tell It Like It Is" listening tour.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Bullying • Facebook • Germany • National security • Technology • Terrorism