MONROE, Ohio — A local school district is investigating after video of students re-enacting the death of George Floyd began circulating on social media this week.
Known as the "George Floyd Challenge," students across the country have been doing this for the past year, leading to punishments. In some cases, students walked out of schools in protest of the behavior.
Monroe Local Schools Superintendent Kathy Demers said administrators became aware on April 22 that two Monroe Junior and Senior High School students posted video depicting other students re-enacting George Floyd’s death. She said an investigation began immediately.
The original video has been removed, but screenshots are still circulating online.
"Although we cannot disclose what disciplinary actions are being taken, please know we will not tolerate these inappropriate behaviors and actions in our schools," Demers said in a statement.
In an effort to open discussion about why children are doing similar things nationwide, WCPO spoke to local psychologist Dr. Stuart Bassman.
“It is a way of dealing with the fear of harm, of injury, of pain, of sorrow,” said Dr. Bassman. “And, most importantly, it is a way of avoiding grief.”
Bassman says there is one question parents can ask children if they’re mocking the murder: What are you avoiding talking about?
“Now, that will stop the adolescent in their track, because the adolescent isn't prepared for a question like that,” he said. “Parents could speak to their children about grief, about death and dying as well as the fear and the anxiety associated with that.”
He said classmates are right to walk away from those taking part.
“Remember, adolescents crave attention. The more people that turn their back on adolescents doing that, the more that this fad will subside and diminish quickly," he said.
Read Demers' entire statement below:
"On April 22, 2021, administrators became aware that two Monroe High School students posted an inappropriate video on social media reenacting George Floyd’s death. When high school administrators became aware of the video, an investigation began immediately. The original video has been taken down, but images from the video are still circulating on social media.
"Although we cannot disclose what disciplinary actions are being taken, please know we will not tolerate these inappropriate behaviors and actions in our schools. One of our core beliefs as a district is that caring relationships must be anchored in honesty, empathy, and respect. We commit to fostering an inclusive educational environment where each person, student, and staff, feel a sense of belonging and are treated with dignity regardless of skin color, gender, sexual identity or orientation, religion, ability, or disability.
"The trial and verdict in the death of George Floyd have created a variety of emotions – anxiety, fear, and anger. As educators, it is our responsibility to support and empower students through these challenging times. We are here to listen, challenge their thinking, and give them the tools they need to thrive in a diverse world and make it a better place."