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How South Park Inspired A Middle School's Bullying Problem

Seemingly nothing exists that won’t get put in the crosshairs on South Park, which has attacked everything from religious figures to popular websites to the government. But it’s somehow a 2005 episode about redheads that has come back to haunt people, specifically students at a Massachusetts middle school that were recently victimized.

On Friday, November 20, the faculty at Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School (in Melrose, Massachusetts) was alerted to some pretty heinous behavior occurring in the school’s hallways, namely that a group of seventh graders were targeting redhead students and kicking them. The unwarranted assaults, which were largely isolated and didn’t involve many students from other grades, happened during the transition period between classes, and news of it apparently only spread once injured students started going to the school nurse.

To be expected, announcements were soon made ordering the idiotic attacks to stop, saying that those involved would be given disciplinary action and that their behavior could be taken as assault. And according to a statement put out by Melrose Veterans Memorial, an investigation was then put into action, as surveillance videos were watched and students were contacted to verify what happened. Precautions were taken, such as keeping certain students away from each other, and the school will continue to keep an eye on things even after the investigation is complete.

It’s so strange, considering “Ginger Kids” aired during Season 9 of South Park, when all or most of the students involved hadn’t even started school yet. In the episode, Cartman makes some hateful claims about redheads, saying they suffer from a disgusting disease called Givervitis. To prove him wrong, the other boys dye his hair red and paint freckles on his face, but it just causes Cartman to team up with the other Gingers in a Nazi-like regime where the only course of action is to kill all non-redheads. It’s a crazy episode, surely, but it’s ridiculous that some kids catching reruns on Comedy Central or Hulu thought it was a great idea to abuse fellow students just because of their hair color. If anything, the redheads should have risen up to defeat everyone else. (Not that we’re condoning that behavior either.)

This isn’t the only time the episode caused this kind of reaction, either. Last year – which is still way too long after the episode aired – the Rotherham, Yorkshire school Wingfield Academy had a similar incident, in which “Kick a Ginger Day” became a thing and a bunch of teenagers were kicked as a result. Aren’t there enough random and meaningless “holidays” during a given year? Did we really need one that put redheads in danger?

South Park will return to Comedy Central to continue Season 19 on Wednesday, December 2.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.