WARNING: The video above shows part of the attack and some viewers may find it disturbing.
WELLINGTON, Fla. — A mother says a video of her 15-year-old son being beaten up in a McDonald’s bathroom in Wellington, Florida is being shared among students at Wellington High School.
“I’m terrified for my kid,” said the victim’s mother, whose name Scripps sister station WPTV in West Palm Beach chose to withheld to protect her son’s privacy.
The minute-long video shows a teenager kick open the stall door then proceed to punch the victim, who crouches on top of the toilet. The attacker is also yelling profanities. He pulls the victim to the ground and continues punching and kicking him.
He eventually asks the victim, who is still on the tile floor of the bathroom stall, to put the passcode into his phone. He grabs the phone from his hand then throws it onto the ground.
“I was furious first of all then I became scared and then it was like disbelief,” the victim’s mother said.
She said the incident happened Tuesday after school.
“He ordered some food, he went into the bathroom and he was followed into the bathroom,” she said
Palm Beach Sheriff's Office confirmed an incident happened Tuesday and that a 17-year-old juvenile was arrested.
“I haven’t slept in days since I saw this video because how do you see your kid treated like that for no reason?” the mom said.
She said another teenager took the video. She said her son doesn’t personally know either the attacker or the person taking the video.
“In the video, you’ll see this guy kick the stall door open and proceed to beat the crap out of my kid, telling him that it’s because his friend did something wrong,” she said.
Her son is a sophomore at Wellington High School. She said he plays football for the school.
She found out about what happened Wednesday when she said she got a call from PBSO. She said students at Wellington High School were sending the video to each other and her son’s friend brought it to the school’s attention.
She said that friend was the person the attacker in the video brought up that he had some sort of issue with, but she said her son doesn’t know the attacker besides hearing of him around school.
“You see all this stuff on Facebook and you see it on Instagram and you see videos of these kids beating each other up, what has happened to our youth?” She said.
She said her son filed a police report with PBSO. WPTV has requested a copy of that report.
This is the third attack of this nature reported in the past month. The first, a gang of girls attacked a fellow student at a park in West Boca at the end of December. And on Sunday, a video showed an attack between girls in Martin County. In these cases, police have arrested the attackers.
"Bullying has been around forever and fighting has been around forever, but I do think we’re more aware of it because there are so many cameras around taping it," said Dr. Raphi Wald, a licensed psychologist.
Dr. Wald said those videos cause even more lasting pain for victims.
"I’m sure many victims feel like they’re retraumatized every time they walk in somewhere when there are people that have seen that video," he said.
He said social media and texting can escalate problems due to lack of non-verbal cues.
"A lot of times what happens is the person that’s receiving the message thinks that the worst possible vocal intonation is associated with the message they’re receiving and that really can lead to fights," he said.
Dr. Wald said parents should monitor their teens' social media activity and talk to them about the risks involved with using it.