Are eighth graders in Chicago using a video game to bully a Jewish classmate? That’s what one parent is alleging.
Chicago Public School officials are investigating whether eighth grade students at Ogden International School of Chicago used the online game “Clash of Clans”—a strategy game in which members of a particular ‘clan’ attack players from other clans and loot their villages—to target a Jewish student, the Chicago Sun Times reports. According to Lisa Wolfe Clemente, the mother of a 14-year-old student at Ogden, her son’s classmates created a team called “Jew Incinerator,” of which they wrote: “We are a friendly group of racists with one goal- put all Jews into an army camp until disposed of.” Another of the team’s online messages read: “Heil! Throw Jews into ovens for a cause.”
Clemente said that her son had been verbally targeted by classmates for six months. She didn’t report the problem to the school until two weeks ago, when her younger son was invited to join the Clash of Clans group online, the Sun-Times reports. That’s when she saw the anti-Semitic messages being written by older students.
NBC Chicago reports that several students have been identified as players and suspended, but have since returned to school.
According to the Sun-Times, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett released a statement regarding the investigation:
“Chicago Public Schools will never tolerate bullying or harassment by any student in any school. As a District we are committed to ensuring safe school environments in which every child feels secure, comfortable, and respected. The principal at Ogden International High School has worked in cooperation with the network and central office to foster a larger community dialog around cultural sensitivity and has taken the appropriate actions to ensure this is a teachable moment for our children.”
The Anti-Defamation League echoed the importance of turning the incident into a teachable moment.
Still, Clemente and other Ogden parents have complained that the school hasn’t taken the issue seriously enough, telling the Sun Times that a forum held this week for parents focused on general bullying and did not adequately address issues of anti-Semitism and hate crimes. “Call it its name. They were racist, they were being anti-Semitic to my son,” Clemente said.