“Kick a Ginger Day” was inspired by an episode of the show South Park, but the day intended to bully kids with red hair turned real for one Massachusetts school and its students.
A group of students at Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School decided to act out the now 10-year-old South Park episode, in which kids with red hair were bullied. They attacked the red-headed students, leaving many of them with bumps and bruises.
In the 2005 South Park episode, Cartman delivers a hate speech against people suffering what he called “Gingervitis,” which is red hair, freckles, and pale skin. His speech inspires other kids in the school to join in the persecution of “Ginger Kids.”
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) November 24, 2015
The episode took off with many of the young fans of the show, who decided to imitate the violence (despite the show’s final message about the ridiculousness of persecuting people based on the color of their hair, or any other physical trait).
A report from Boston.com noted that seventh grade students acted out the episode in their school last week, targeting their red-headed peers by kicking them in the hallways between classes. No teachers or faculty saw the bullying, but learned about it later when several injured students went to the nurse with bruising.
Red-headed kids targeted on ‘Kick a Ginger Day’ https://t.co/EHmJWkoALd pic.twitter.com/RUJV8a8Xkq
— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) November 25, 2015
The school ended up releasing a statement condemning the incident.
“We are outraged by the behavior and poor decisions made by a group of students and we are concerned for both the victims and the aggressors for the impact that this will have them,” the statement read. “And we are incredibly disappointed. At the Melrose Public Schools we take the safety of all our students very seriously. We take many opportunities during the school year in assemblies, in small groups and in the classroom to teach our students to be kind and respectful to each other.”
The school noted that administrators took immediate action when they learned about “Kick a Ginger Day,” making an announcement that the attacks would be considered assault.
Administrators noted that because the incident happened on Friday it was difficult to investigate fully, but later reviewed surveillance video and shared them with police.
“If any child is found to have engaged in an assault, appropriate action will be taken, including involvement of the Melrose police, if necessary,” the school noted.
The is not the first time that South Park has inspired a real-life “Kick a Ginger Day.” Back in 2013, students at Wingfield Academy in Yorkshire, England, decided to enact their own version, leading parents of the victims to start their own Facebook page in an attempt to end the bullying.
“My son rang me and said kids were kicking him, saying it was National Kick a Ginger Kid Day. He was scared so I went to get him out of school,” the parent said, via the Daily Telegraph.
It was more than just name calling, the parent said.
“My son’s leg is swollen and there are bruises coming through,” the parent added. “It is both boys and girls who have been carrying out this bullying and I want action from the school to make sure it does not happen again.”
Like the administrators at Melrose Veterans Middle School, leaders at Wingfield strongly condemned “Kick a Ginger Day,” calling them “deplorable acts” that had no place in the school. They warned that any bullying in the future would be met with “strong and decisive action.”
[Image via Melrose Public Schools/Boston.com]