LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Alleged bullies were judged by a panel of teens in an unprecedented trial presided over by a real judge through a program called SHADES.
A panel of teen jurors was selected at random from various high schools across L.A. County to decide the fate of two alleged bullies charged with battery.
In case number one, Tyree took the stand. He said he lives in fear after a bully gave him two black eyes and had been verbally taunting him for months.
“I’m scared to go to school; they always call me gay, f***t. I’m sorry,” he apologized to the judge.
“It’s OK, take your time,” the judge responded.
“They keep bothering me. I get tired of it every day,” Tyree testified.
“I’m sorry for crying, but I’m upset about my son being bullied and it’s not just the first time, this is several times. I’m upset,” said Tyree’s mother, as she broke down with tears.
Her story mimics that of millions. She has already seen the irreparable damage caused by bullies.
“I lost my cousin from kids bullying her, as a child, and she hung herself… I don’t want my son to do anything to himself because these kids won’t leave him alone,” she said.
With every eye in the courtroom filled with tears, his jury of peers sprang into action.
“What can we change in order to help you,” a juror asked.
“I just wanted to say to you that it’s really brave of you to come up here and talk. As somebody who was bullied as a kid, it’s hard to tell people. For you to come here, it’s amazing,” said another juror, who broke down in tears.
Every teen in the courtroom saw how deep words could cut.
Case number two focused on a teen bully, who we will call “Sam” to protect his identity, as a minor. He had been charged with battery.
“I went grabbed a little rope and choked the victim,” Sam said.
The jurors asked him direct questions in a effort to find the motive behind his actions.
“Why did you decide to choke him,” one juror asked?
“Because this girl I liked told me to do it,” Sam responded.
“Would you have done it if your friends weren’t there,” another asked?
“No,” Sam replied.
After the attack Sam said he verbally abused his young victim.
“Yes, I called him a f***t, but just because my friends did it too,” he said.
“Do you have anything against homosexuals,” a juror asked?
“No,” he replied.
“So why would you use that term? You know it’s offensive, you know it hurts,” a juror questioned.
“I just wanted to use it because my friends did,” Sam said.
Before the jurors went to deliberate Sam’s fate, the accused bully gave his final thoughts.
“I was wrong to think of the victim as homosexual. And I shouldn’t care anymore about what people tell me,” he said.
The jurors then deliberated to find the right punishment for both bullies.
“I think he needs education,” one juror suggested.
“He and his family should engage in counseling,” another said.
“I was wondering if we could give him community service their, so he’s around that environment and he sees the power of hate,” another teen juror offered.
“Could he be forced to speak in front of his whole school,” another asked?
In the end both bullies received several hours of community service and counseling.
But the judge had a special warning for Tryee’s bully.
“You are to have no contact with Tyree. If you contact him, if you’re with your friends and they contact him, and I find out about it, I will place you in juvenile hall and I will keep you there as long as I can. Do you understand me,” Superior Court Judge David Wesley asked?
“Yes,” he replied.
Judge Wesley helped spearhead the SHADES program. It stands for Stopping Hate and Delinquency by Empowering Students.