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When Baileigh Karam, a 14-year-old from Carlsbad, CA, went missing on January 11 after a video of her fight with a bullying classmate went viral on Facebook, her mother was understandably beside herself. The video showed Karam being punched repeatedly by her female peer, who was allegedly jealous over Karam's involvement with her ex-boyfriend. In the clip -- recorded on a cell phone -- classmates for both girls circled them and cheered them on.
It's a story that despite being a parent's worst nightmare has become all too common in a world where bullying and social media can go hand-in-hand in a dangerous way. Thank goodness, police reported today that Karam has been found alive and well.
Karam told officials that she went to stay with her friends after being reported missing on January 11. Her mother, Karen, had told her school and authorities that she feared her daughter's disappearance had stemmed from the bullying and she worried that Baileigh may have been reading her classmates' comments from the online video.
Fights are always going to break out amongst teens, and bullying is a multi-layered issue. But the teens who not only took this video but posted it to Facebook and then continued a vicious bullying cycle that causes a girl to devastate her parents by going into hiding for a week? They must be held accountable for what happened here.
Because in the end, it doesn't seem to me that Baileigh Karam's disappearance should be chalked up as one family's problem. Something like this is everyone's problem. Something that must be dealt with in a sensitive but firm way by educators and parents together. Because teens must learn that bullying and violence like this, that have the potential to turn not just a family's life, but an entire school and town upside down will simply not be tolerated.
Here's more on Baileigh's disappearance ...
What do you make of this missing teen's case? How do you feel the community should react?