‘What If This Was Your Child?’: A Virginia Mom’s Outrage Leads to Teen Girl Being Charged with Burning Classmate’s Hair

A Virginia teenage girl is facing charges after allegedly setting her classmate’s hair on fire. The 13-year-old victim is currently a burn victim at a local hospital and his mother says he “mentally is broken.”

WWBT reported that the altercation happened on Wednesday, Jan. 12, at Richmond’s John Rolfe Middle School during class. It is alleged the girl lit the other child’s hair on fire, causing him to have second and third-degree burns.

A Virginia mom speaks out after her son’s hair is set ablaze by another student. (WTVR Screengrab)

The mother, who chooses to remain unidentified to protect her son’s privacy, was notified about the incident after a school administrator called her on her son’s phone to report the assault. She told WWBT, “All I could hear the teacher say over the phone was something is happening with my son.”

She was informed that a school resource officer was taking care of the boy until professionals arrived and could take over. The police and the Henrico Fire department responded to the school at 12:30 p.m. and assessed that the boy’s burn injuries were not life-threatening.

According to the mother, the son’s math class was at lunch. Restrictions relating to COVID-19 protocols mandated that the group eat their food in the classroom. As the young man went to dispose of his lunch tray, a female classmate followed him and pulled out a lighter.

“That’s when the girl kind of flicked the lighter and lit his hair on fire,” the mother told the station.

The mom says that when she arrived she saw that her son’s shoulder-length hair was now burnt to the scalp. Her son had burns tracing the side of his head and covering one of his ears. She also noted that areas of his neck were scarred and blistered with burns. 

“He was hysterical; he looked scared,” the mother recalled. “His pride emotionally and mentally is broken.”

The mom claims initially the school did not want to press criminal charges against the student. However, she was adamant about receiving a measure of justice for her child. 

“What if this was your child, what would you be, would you be livid, would you be devastated, how would you feel? Would you feel supported by Henrico County Schools?” she remarked to WWBT.

On Thursday, Jan. 13, the Henrico Fire Marshal’s Office has charged the girl with unlawful wounding.

According to the Henrico Citizen, other county agencies are working collaboratively to investigate the assault. While the marshal’s office is taking the lead, Henrico Police, Henrico Fire, and Henrico Schools and in conjunction with the Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office are lending their support.

Debbie George, the school’s principal, gave a statement to parents about the incident via an automatic phone line.

It read, “This is Ms. George, principal of John Rolfe Middle School. I’m calling to let you know about an incident that took place in your child’s science class today. A student was burned by a classmate who was playing with a lighter. The injured student was taken to the hospital and is receiving treatment. Here at school, we are reviewing the incident to ensure something like this does not happen again and taking appropriate disciplinary action as necessary. Thank you.”

The victim’s mother does not believe that was enough. In her opinion, the school is making light of this traumatic ordeal that her child has endured on their watch.

“You can’t just brush this under the rug and think that it’s going to just go away, It’s not. My son is severely hurt, he’s suffering and it’s not fair to me it’s not fair to him so y’all just need to be held accountable,” she said.

A 2013 report conducted by the Journal of Burn Care & Research observed young adults who were burned in their youth and looked at their current perception of themselves. They enlisted 82 burn survivors (45 male, 37 female) and used the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale, 2nd edition (TSCS2) to determine how each participant fared in society and the trauma of being burned.  

The data from the research showed that pediatric burn survivors experience struggles with low self-imagining in the following areas: physical function, appearance, sexuality, moral conduct, personal values, academics, work, and personal identity. 

The teenager who scorched her classmate’s hair will go before a juvenile and domestic court later in the year. The date of her court appearance has not been disclosed publicly.

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