VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY) - A couple of minutes of a disturbing bus ride home ended up on the Internet. The video shows a child being taunted by peers.
To protect the child's identity, we will not reveal the school involved. However, 10 On Your Side confirmed the video was recorded on a Virginia Beach School bus with middle school students on board.
Thursday night, the victim's parents learned the video was on You Tube, which lead Virginia Beach police to begin investigating.
MPO Adam Bertnstein said, "We had a patrol officer go out and meet with the parents to discuss case. He passed all of that information along to the school resource officer, who immediately got on it. He started getting the people identified. We know the school is involved. We know the school is taking this seriously, as well."
Virginia Beach Schools declined to do an interview for this story. But a spokeswoman told 10 On Your Side the students involved are being disciplined according to school policy--a policy that allows for suspension, long-term suspension, or expulsion.
To find out if the video included criminal activity, 10 On Your Side took it to Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey Bryant.
"Nobody wants to see kids cry or scream like that, but as I watched it, it would not even qualify under Virginia statute as assault."
Bryant said that is because there was no actual violence or threat of physical harm. He said charges can be filed if bullying "gets to the level of actual assault, which doesn't have to be physical or written threats, by phone, threatening by phone, those are all covered by statutes."
Virginia does not have a law making bullying illegal, and the middle school children never threatened or physically attacked the victim.
But in the video, children shouted insults at a boy who was crying and pleading for them to leave him "alone for once, just this once."
After watching it, Bryant said, "I'd love to be able to look into your cameras so every parent can say 'if you do this you're going to be in trouble. You're going to end up down in juvenile court.'"
Laws do exist, however, to prosecute cyberbullying. In Virginia, harassment by computer is a misdemeanor.
The law states, "If any person, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass any person, shall use a computer or computer network to communicate obscene, vulgar, profane, lewd, lascivious, or indecent language, or make any suggestion or proposal of an obscene nature, or threaten any illegal or immoral act, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor."
Authorities throughout the U.S. and in Hampton Roads say bullies are using technology to hurt their victims.
10 On Your Side listened as Norfolk Detective Mike Loftin explained the problem of cyberbullying among young people Tuesday evening.
"Years ago you would go to school and you probably get harassed at school, come three o'clock you go home... With today's technology with the computer, cell phones, the internet, the kid has no where to run," Loftin said.
Both Loftin and Bryant referred to a recent case in Massachusetts where a high school freshman Phoebe Prince committed suicide. Six students are charged with bullying Prince.
Bryant said the case in Massachusetts teaches difficult lessons.
"I think the main thing is we got to make sure there is support mechanisms for the victims so they don't harm themselves," he said.
Bernstein suggests parents and students who are aware of bullying, should contact school administrators or resources officers immediately.
As far as creating an anti-bullying law, a proposal to do so never made is out of a House of Delegates committee during the last General Assembly session.
A routine traffic stop in Chesapeake resulted in a three-city pursuit Friday morning.
Wet weather is expected to move into the area over the weekend, forcing some areas to cancel or change their holiday events.
Four vehicles were involved in a crash on Route 17 in Gloucester Friday morning.