Big Bad Bullies: Dwana and Lauren

Beaten Unconscious
Dr. Phil talks to Debra and Lauren about bullies and a fight that was caught on videotape.
"You send your child to school and you don't expect your child to end up in an emergency room," says Brenda, whose 13-year-old daughter, Lauren, was beaten unconscious on a school bus.


Dwana, the 16-year-old who attacked Lauren, argues that she was only protecting herself because Lauren hit her first. "My mom always told me if someone hits me, I'm supposed to hit them back," says Dwana. "That's the way I was raised."


On the school bus videotape, Dwana is seen kicking, punching and spitting on Lauren. The bus driver did not intervene in the fight, and by the time the paramedics arrived, Lauren was still on the floor of the bus.


Dwana's mother, Brenda, is unapologetic about her daughter's role in the fight. "I shouldn't come apologize for nothing because I didn't do anything," she maintains. "That was between Dwana and [Lauren]."


Debra is concerned because Lauren has been withdrawn and mistrustful since the beating. She says to Dr. Phil, "I want to know if you can help her to not feel like she has to be a victim all her life."

Dr. Phil reiterates Dwana's version of why the fight occurred. "You understand she says that you were bugging her, pestering her and trying to touch her in some way," he tells Lauren. To Debra he says, "I'm sure your opinion is ... this [attack] was just totally inappropriate."


"Absolutely," Debra agrees, telling Dr. Phil that when she first viewed the tape of Lauren's beating, she made the reporter keep rewinding the tape so that she could see where the trouble started. "You see them each smiling at each other, and I wanted to know where it went from the smiling, the joking, the fooling around to Lauren going over the back of the seat and getting kicked unconscious."


"What is your thinking and feeling about this since it happened?" Dr. Phil asks Lauren.

 

"That some people you just can't trust," she answers.

Dr. Phil asks Debra how Lauren was expelled along with Dwana since Lauren was the victim in the attack.


"The principal, who hadn't even viewed the tape at the point that I had the meeting with him, told me that it looked to him and to the school board as if Lauren's arm goes back over the back of the seat," Debra says. "I said, 'Have you seen the tape?' He said, 'No, I haven't actually seen it, but I'll make my decision later today.'" Debra tells Dr. Phil that she left the school to run errands, and when she returned home, the principal called to say that Lauren was expelled.


Not only has Lauren been formally expelled from her current school, she is not allowed to attend any school in her county.


"I understand that Dwana has been charged with aggravated assault and will be arraigned soon," Dr. Phil says. "I understand that she's spent 21 days in a juvenile facility as a result of [the attack], but this arraignment goes on top of that. What did you want from the school that you didn't get?" Dr. Phil asks Debra.


"Number one, I felt like they wanted to bury it under the rug," she says. "To me, it's a bigger issue than just Lauren. It's children in general; they're not safe."


"Is there anything you want to say at this point?" Dr. Phil asks Lauren.


Lauren responds that children shouldn't be attacked simply because bullies want attention from their peers.

Dr. Phil is puzzled that Lauren has been punished with expulsion, even though she was attacked. He asks Debra, "Does that just have you totally perplexed?"


"I just find it unbelievable," she agrees. "She was victimized by another child. She was victimized by a principal and she was victimized by the school board."


"Tell me about the principal victimizing her," says Dr. Phil.


"When we got to the school the following Monday after the incident happened ... the very first question he asked Lauren was, was she gay?" Debra explains.

"What does that have to do with the circumstance?" Dr. Phil wants to know.


"It seems like he had had a meeting with Dwana and her family ... and the justification for Dwana doing what she did was that Lauren was trying to touch her," Debra answers.


"In a sexual way? Is that true?" Dr. Phil asks Lauren, and she tells him that it's not true.