ROYERSFORD, Pa. (CBS) — School officials say an investigation is underway after a video surfaced this week showing several students from Pope John Paul II High School laughing and chanting the N-word.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia says they became aware Monday night that the racially charged video of their students was circulating on social media.
In the video, almost a dozen teenagers are huddled in a circle looking at the camera and after a girl says, “Everybody say the (n-word)” and they all yell it.
“I’m taken back, I really just can’t believe it to be honest,” says Kyra Maillard-Chamberlain an African American parent at the school.
“I’m heartbroken that it’s like this, we need to put a stop to it and somebody needs to do something about it,” says Hispanic parent Esther Gordiany-Martinez.
Tuesday afternoon the director of communications for the Archdiocese Ken Gavin released this statement:
Late last night, school administration was made aware of a racially charged video that was generated by some current Pope John Paul II High School students and shared broadly on at least two social media platforms. We are disheartened and beyond disappointed that young people attending our school would engage in hateful behavior of this nature.
We wish to be abundantly clear with all of you that there is no place for hate, racism, or bigotry at Pope John Paul II or any Archdiocesan school. It is not acceptable under any circumstances or at any time. The use of any racial epithet is inconsistent with our values to treat all people with charity, decency, and respect. Not only is the behavior in question a violation of our code of conduct, but it also constitutes a violation of the Responsible Use Policy of Technology policy that applies to students both inside and outside of school.
Please know that immediate action was taken following last night’s report. The Office of Catholic Education was notified, an internal school investigation is underway, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against all those responsible.
The school will also initiate contact with outside organizations to explore programming for the benefit of the entire school community. More information regarding programming will be provided to school families when possible.
Families were asked to remind their sons and daughters that they are representatives of their school at all times, including on weekends outside of school. PJPII takes pride in its long history of being a welcoming and culturally diverse community which empowers young men and women to become contributing members of the Church and society.
Dr. Robin Smith, a child psychologist, says the “young people need to be helped, not harmed.”
“What is happening in the homes of these children? Who’s raising these children?” said Smith.
Smith added that it starts and ends with family.
“This is not to shame the parents, this is education time,” said Smith. “This is time where we enlisted and enrolled in school our children, but we forget that sometimes. The parent-teacher meeting maybe needs to be not as much about the student, but about what’s happening at home.”