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Osakis Review Editorial: Wait for facts in bullying incident

When a news story breaks, people, understandably, want answers. They want black-and-white facts so they’ll know exactly what happened.

Unfortunately, not everything is so clear-cut, at least initially. That’s the case with an alleged bullying incident at Osakis High School on January 16. A photo circulated through social media that showed a student sitting on the floor, hands bound behind his back with a hoodie tied tightly over his head.

The mother of the boy believes it’s a clear case of bullying and something that

goes on every day in that class.

The Osakis police chief, who investigated the incident and interviewed the students, came up with a different conclusion – that the boy chose to participate.

The Douglas County Attorney’s Office, as of Monday, was still studying the police chief’s preliminary investigation and is awaiting written statements before it will decide to press charges.

The school district, meanwhile, is bound by data privacy laws and isn’t talking until it completes its own investigation.

Our stories about the incident sparked furious debate on Facebook about what actually happened and who is right and what went wrong. We know that the district office has been receiving angry calls from upset parents, anti-bullying groups and others.

We urge readers to refrain from leaping to conclusions. Talking about bullying, what causes it and how to prevent it are extremely important topics to discuss. But pointing fingers, making wild speculations and sweeping generalizations does more harm than good.

Let’s address this important topic with more light – and when they become available, more facts – not heat.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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