BI Poisoning: Keeping Victims Anonymous

While many of our fellow news outlets published the name of a teacher who was the apparent victim of a purposefully-placed allergic reaction, we (being the Kitsap Sun) chose not to.


With some exceptions — a murder case being one — we don’t publish a crime victim’s name. The reasons for which should be fairly logical: respecting the anonymity of a person who has been hurt and is now also having to shoulder the knowledge that the community at large is aware of the apparent crime.

Other medias broke from this rule to run the Sakai teacher’s name. We didn’t, for the reason we expressed in the story:

The teacher’s name was being reported by some news outlets Friday, but the Kitsap Sun is following its standard policy in this case of not naming victims in stories involving crimes.

It could have been that other media outlets felt the alleged victim was a teacher — a very public profession — and since the culprits were students (who we found out had already confessed), publishing her name was acceptable.

We did not, and stood by the policy. But if you were writing the story, what would you do?

8 thoughts on “BI Poisoning: Keeping Victims Anonymous

  1. I would have stayed to the policy, contacted the victim, and only then considered straying from it. I think in this situation, showing her enough respect to ask her permission to use her name where many others didn’t may have made the difference. Giving her the power – something often robbed of victims – to say NO might have given her a small piece of mind and dignity back.

  2. Sounds to me like a blank check on the Sun’s recent performance…O.K

    Frankly, based on the this Blog’s overall current tone, the only reason you didn’t publish her name was that there was no sensationalism in it.

    I’m convinced that if there was any momentum to be gained in the speculative/sensational direction…you would have published her name.

    At least now you can take the high road after dragging other respectable names through the mud.

    Is this little blog entry an attempt at damage control? Which by the way would make sense to me given the last 3 weeks or so.

    The Crime and Justice Blog is like watching “Jerry Springer” !

    I’ll renew my subscription to the Sun when good articles are written based on a FACTS.

  3. If this is true, then, for the first time in years, I feel pride in my hometown paper..for choosing decent regard for the victim over sensationalizing and harassment…a double whammy for the victim.
    I’m proud of you, Kitsap Sun…you’ve put yourself on the rung above.
    You’ve got writers I respect and highly regard as honest and honorable….and now you show ethics and empathy for the victim of a crime.
    I’ve never seen the point of punching the victim a second time.
    Thank you. Sharon O’Hara

  4. News is News and I believe a victim in this kind of case should be the one to consent to the release of her name. The culprits of the poisoning? Give their names. Public protection for future use. Who knows these days. kids are so different. I almost think these kids did not really know that what they did could have been fatal. I have a son who at 21 years old became allergic to strawberries and took an ambulance ride because he ate cake with artificially flavored strawberry frosting. Thank God he is alive and will never touch his favorite flavor again. Why would this alergy be disclosed to students anyway?

  5. The girls admitted to knowing strawberries could kill their teacher, that is why they chose to use the lip gloss to “just make her sick.” The girls are evil. They need to spend time in the pen, be separated, and receive therapy. My son’s teachers frequently let us know if they had allergies to certain foods or smells. They do it for their protection. It’s sad that twisted children are now using the allergies to harm their teachers.

  6. “I almost think these kids did not really know that what they did could have been fatal.”

    No, at least one of the girls did not believe that it could be fatal to the teacher. That is why the lip gloss instead of the strawberries. As to why the allergy is made known to the students, parents and faculty? It’s made known so that no one will bring strawberries into her classroom. Does it always work? No. Last year, in fact, a parent brought in strawberry yogurt during WASL week. The teacher in question was forced to leave her room and trade places with another teacher for the day. Did the parent know of the allergy? Yes! Did the parent THINK of the possible consequences before he/she brought in the yogurt? Nope. Did the girls THINK of the serious consequences of their actions? I don’t believe so.

    “The girls are evil. They need to spend time in the pen, be separated, and receive therapy. … It’s sad that twisted children…”

    The parents of one of the girls have repeatedly tried keeping their daughter away from the other. As a parent, you must know that when the kids are at school and on the school bus, we have no control over them and have to hope and pray that they will follow the rules and do the right things as we have taught them. It’s far too easy for kids to get together at school with the kids we tell them to stay away from. By the way, the judge has now ordered them to have no contact with each other.

    As for your statement “The girls are evil.” Have you ever met either of these two girls? Do you know anything of their background? Or are you basing your opinion on the sole basis of what you’ve read? I can tell you something about one of these girls that NONE of the news stations or newspapers has reported. One of these “evil” girls USUALLY spends her morning bus ride sharing a seat with a handicapped 6 year old, reading books to her, to keep her entertained. Did she act stupid? YES! Is she now a criminal. Oh yes! Is she a twisted child and evil? No. And please remember also that neither of these girls have EVER been in any trouble before. If they were really and truly evil and twisted, you can bet that they’d have been in trouble many times before now.

    Maybe we should all learn the lesson that the teacher is trying so hard to teach us right now. SHE does not hate these girls. SHE is not calling them evil. SHE is not calling them twisted. In fact, if we are to believe the school district, SHE wants them back into her classroom where she can continue to teach them. Let the girls serve their time, do their community service and get some serious counseling. But let the adults stop calling the children nasty, vindictive names.

  7. It was commendable that the Kitsap Sun did not identify the teacher. However, I believe that in this case, and other high profile crime incidents, those juveniles should be identified by name, why? They committed an adult crime, they should be treated like adults and identified as such.

  8. JOPM,
    I am a proud mother of a very sweet and caring little girl, but, if she EVER did ANYTHING like these girls did, her butt would be grass.

    What these girls did was wrong and they KNEW it was wrong. What they did was evil and VERY twisted! If she were such a wonderful child, why was she defying her parents’ wishes? And if the other girl was such a bad influence, why did the parents not remove them from the school and place her somewhere else, OR, tell the teachers that she was not permitted to associate with this other girl?!? That’s what I would have done.

    I am not saying that she is evil, but what she did was…and she should be made to reap the consequences of her actions so that she may NEVER EVER repeat the same “mistake” again.

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