High School Student Finds Support From Pro Athletes After Bullying Video Goes Viral
Javier, a special needs student at Arvin High School, went viral last week when another student reposted a video of him being ruthlessly bullied at school by a small crowd. The video, which was posted last Thursday, shows multiple students with their phones out as another student shaves Javier’s head while he cries.
The video went viral on Twitter after @erikaharris14_ reposted it from an Instagram story. The caption and comments on the story add more context to the video and lead us to think that nearby security guards not only failed to intervene, but were laughing at Javier and his tormentors.
The school was initially hesitant to respond to the incident, reports local newspaper Bakersfield Californian, and had inspired a protest with hundreds of attendees by the next morning.
The boy’s mother, Avelina Santiago, confirmed that Javier was doing well at home, but that didn’t stop a crowd of supporters from fighting on his behalf.
Parents and students alike agreed that bullying at Arvin High is an ongoing issue. A former student named Celeste Garcia said, “This school here, it condones bullying, but we don’t,” adding, “I know what it feels like to be bullied and I felt (the video) even more because I have a brother that goes here. So I imagined it being him. My blood was boiling. I wanted to cry. It breaks my soul.”
While Javier and his mother work with Arvin High, a handful of professional athletes and celebrities who came across the story on social media have reached out to show their support. Dallas Cowboys player Micah Parsons was the first to respond on Twitter, asking his followers to help him to locate Javier.
Soon after, Boston Celtics player Marcus Smart asked for the same info, dropping an email for someone to privately submit Javier’s information. “We’ll get the Celtics and Puma to send a little something his way. We got his back,” he wrote.
Following that initial interaction, “Frozen” actor Josh Gad spoke out against the incident too, expressing his disgust for the student’s act and his love and support for Javier. “You got a friend here. In fact, you have many friends. Bullies won’t win. Love you kid!”
Javier was also given a free haircut by a local barber, who said he’s going to “bless him with a VIP cut” after “his hair grows out,” according to a picture of Javier posted to Instagram.
In addition, a GoFundMe created for Javier garnered more than $30,000 in donations before it was disabled.
In the meantime, the school district noted publicly that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) made it impossible for them to reveal any details about the incident and could only discuss the fact that two Arvin High employees had been put on leave after the video began circulating online.