PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — Video of an assault at an elementary school playground led to the arrest of several juveniles, Portsmouth police said Wednesday.
The 15-year-old victim’s parents contacted police about the fight outside Hathaway Elementary School on the evening of May 5.
Police said the victim was “dragged on the ground, punched and kicked” by a group of students. While investigating, police learned footage of the assault was going around social media, which the school resource officer used to identify three of the suspects.
Four juveniles, including those three, were arrested that evening, according to police.
The victim was also charged after he allegedly retaliated the following day in the area of East Main Road.
All five juveniles are from Portsmouth and range in age from 13 to 15 years old, police said. They’ve all been petitioned to family court.
The victim’s mother told 12 News the attack left her son with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a concussion, and a ruptured ear drum that will likely require surgery.
“He came back through the door, probably 6:30 or maybe even sooner, had blood coming from his ear and was just covered in dirt and wood chips and told me he got jumped,” she recalled.
The mother said the boys who assaulted her son “shared it so proudly” on social media.
“They stomped on my son’s head. I’m lucky he’s alive,” she added.
The boy is no longer a student in Portsmouth public schools, according to his mother.
“My son was removed from the district prior to this incident,” she said. “He had been bullied for pretty much the entire time he was in Portsmouth. He came here in fifth grade.”
Superintendent Tom Kenworthy sent a letter to parents about the assault and a separate incident on the same playground.
“Both incidents are concerning and include behaviors not in keeping with our expectations for Portsmouth School Department students,” Kenworthy wrote.
“We take great pride in ensuring that our campuses are safe, welcoming environments for all, including making outdoor spaces available to the community when school is not in session,” he continued. “However, we also expect all students and adults who use the facilities to treat one another with respect and decency. Anyone who acts in ways that make others feel unsafe or unwelcome will be disciplined appropriately, including being subject to criminal charges if necessary.”
Portsmouth police will be increasing patrols at all schools and playgrounds after hours, according to Kenworthy.
He also said the Portsmouth School Committee plans to discuss potential policy implications for student incidents that occur on school grounds outside of school hours.