Protests at Wakefield High School


Mollie Steinhoff

About three weeks ago, students of all ages at Wakefield High School stood outside with signs in protest over a junior student coming back to school from suspension. The student was found taking inappropriate pictures of girls and selling them online. He was then given a 30-day suspension by the school systems, but when he opted to return the girls reported that they no longer feel comfortable in school if the student returns.

Approximately 13 girls reported that they found hundreds of pictures of them on an underground gaming app. Since then, the photos have been taken down, but the victims still feel uncomfortable with the thought that the student would be entering the school again. Monday, November 22nd, a couple days before the student would return, many high-schoolers and parents went outside in protest of the boy coming back. They held signs that had comments such as, “I thought he was my friend” and “Wakefield supports upskirting” to convey the extremism of the situation.

Parents and students believe a 30-day suspension is not enough for a juvenile who has sexually harassed girls in and out of school. The victims say that if he ever comes back to school, they will never feel safe in the building. It is the school system’s job to ensure that all students are safe going to school and by allowing the student to come back, it defeats the very purpose of safety in the building. The police are now taking the matters into their own hands in discussion with the school committee about this problem.

According to Abbey Leary, a current senior at Wakefield High School, “I stood alongside my classmates on the sidewalk by the school while we held posters, basically saying that no one feels comfortable if this kid comes back”. She shared that she knew some of the victims personally and felt that the student was fully responsible for their uneasiness in the classroom. She wants to make sure that her peers feel safe in school, so she will protest with them to ensure their safety.

Wakefield High School has had their fair share of incidents, such as every other school nationwide, including Tewksbury. It is important to recognize that, while this does happen with other towns, it’s a recurring problem in the country. Students should be willing to step-up, like Wakefield students, to ensure that safety in schools is the number one priority. The teens that were protesting can teach other students that they can make a difference in their community as well.