Happy slapping

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Happy slapping was a fad in which someone assaults an unsuspecting victim while an accomplice records the assault (commonly with a camera phone or a smartphone). Most happy-slappers were teenagers or young adults. Several incidents have been extremely violent, and people have been killed. The name can refer to many types of violent assaults, not just slapping, but some rape and sexual assaults have been inaccurately classified as "happy slapping" by the media.[1]

Filming attacks seems to be common in modern bullying, and not unique to happy slapping. The core defining feature of happy slapping is an effort by the attacker to make the assault seem like a comical surprise at the victim's expense. When the "happy slapping" craze first started, it was seen amongst youngsters as harmless fun. Despite the increased level of violence, this perception sometimes persists. Often those found performing such activities will say they were just "happy slapping", asserting their belief that no significant harm was caused to the victim (often contradicting the obvious) with the only result being humorous entertainment.


[edit] Use with video technology

Although the concept of filming a crime is an old one, the ease and general availability of video cameras in mobile phones means that such attacks need not be planned carefully beforehand and are more easily watched and circulated for comedy purposes afterwards. Some political and media commentators have accused Jackass, Dirty Sanchez and Bumfights of inspiring slappings. Happy slapping can be more violent than a mere slap (causing criticism of its name) and may include a strike or even actual bodily harm. Sometimes the assault is performed with other crimes, such as mugging, and can lead to manslaughter.

[edit] History

Happy Slapping is known to have started in South London, in particular the London Borough of Lewisham,[2][3] in a format known as "Slap TV", where a happy-slapping video would be recorded, and then watched by dozens of people like a TV show. The first newspaper article to ever use the phrase 'happy slapping' was "Bullies film fights by phone", published in The Times Educational Supplement on January 21, 2005, in which reporter Michael Shaw described teachers' accounts of the craze in London schools. Within the United Kingdom, where the term is used most frequently,[citation needed] it is associated with the ned/chav sub-culture.

The Phrase Finder describes the phenomenon thus:


Unprovoked attacks on individuals made in order to record the event, and especially the victim's shock and surprise, on video phones.


Happy slapping ... began as a youth craze in the UK in late 2004. Children or passers by are slapped or otherwise mugged by one or more of a gang while others record the event on video and then distribute it by phone or Internet.

Initially the attacks were, as the phrase would have us believe, fairly minor pranks ... As the craze spread the attacks became more vicious – often serious assaults known in legal circles as grievous bodily harm.


[edit] Legal consequences

[edit] Denmark

When the international media attention surrounding attacks abroad reached a high point, a girl was sentenced to 8 months in prison [5]. She was however sentenced on a number of account including previous crimes. According to more recent sentences the common punishment are a fine or up to 40 days prison suspended if the attacker has no previous record [6][7].

Happy slapping is judged as "other violence" §244.

[edit] France

In February 2007, an amendment to a law on the prevention of delinquency aimed at criminalizing happy slapping was added by the Parliament of France to a law "on the prevention of the delinquence" based on a proposal from then Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.[8] In the final text,[9] the anti-happy-slapping clause appears as the last part of Article 44, which also deals with ambushing law enforcement forces. To summarize:

  • The law equates filming or photographing certain classes of violent crimes, including severe beatings and rape, with being an accomplice of such crimes.
  • The law creates a new felony for broadcasting the images of such crimes, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a €75,000 fine.

However, the law is not applicable to those who took the above actions in order to obtain evidence in court, or as professional journalism. Professional journalism is delimited in France by the "press card", which is awarded by a commission representing journalist unions and press organizations.[10] As defined by law,[11] a professional journalist is one whose main activity is professional, paid, journalism.

The bill was signed into law on March 5, 2007, despite some organizations, including Reporters Without Borders[12] and the French chapter of Wikimedia,[13] arguing that this clause created a legal discrimination in criminal law between professional journalists and ordinary citizens practicing journalism. Specifically, it was argued that citizens filming incidents of police brutality and publishing such information online could be intimidated by law enforcement into remaining silent, or possibly prosecuted for their actions. This criticism was relayed by the international media.[14]

Nicolas Sarkozy, French President, declared to Reporters Without Borders that "the spirit of the law is not to infringe of freedom of information", "However, if the least doubt subsisted, then I'm in favour of a clarification of the law".[15]

[edit] United Kingdom

In March 2008, a teenage girl who filmed the fatal beating of a man on her mobile phone was sentenced to two years' detention in the first prosecution of its kind in the United Kingdom. She had pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court in February 2008 to aiding and abetting the manslaughter of Gavin Waterhouse, 27 from Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Mark Masters, 19, from Keighley, and Sean Thompson, 17, from Bradford were sentenced to seven and six years respectively after admitting to Mr Waterhouse's manslaughter. He died from a ruptured spleen after being beaten by the two youths in September 2007.

Just before the attack, the girl was handed a mobile phone by one of the attackers and told to "video this", prosecutors said. She then approached Mr Waterhouse, asked for money, and recorded the subsequent attack. She was sentenced to serve a two-year detention training order.

Police said they were satisfied with the court's decision. The Crown Prosecutor said "this is the first time a suspect in England and Wales has been successfully prosecuted for aiding and abetting murder or manslaughter, for the filming of an inaptly called, 'happy slapping' incident". [16]

[edit] Media-reported incidents

By necessity, the incidents are listed by the time of media attention rather than the time of the attacks themselves.

  • England, June 9, 2005: On 25 May 2005, in the Wortley area of Leeds, 17-year-old student Kerry Deville was approached by two men, one of whom shot her in the leg with an air rifle, while the second subsequently recorded her injuries on a cell phone.[18]
  • England, June 18, 2005: Police arrested three 14-year-old boys for the suspected rape of an 11-year-old girl who attended their school in Stoke Newington, London. Authorities were alerted when school staff saw footage from the students' phones.[19]
  • England, December, 2005: The murder of David Morley. A 15-year-old-girl, Chelsea O'Mahoney (an alias)[20] and her co-defendants Reece Sargeant, 21, Darren Case, 18, and David Blenman, 17, were all found guilty of the manslaughter but not murder of David Morley near Waterloo Station, in London. Barry Lee, 20, and another 17-year-old were cleared of all charges. According to press reports, "The 15-year-old girl had told Morley that she was making a documentary about 'happy slapping' before her gang of friends kicked him to death."[21][22]
  • Denmark, May 10, 2006: Yet another case was reported in the newspapers. Two men aged 17 and 19 attacked a woman in Copenhagen, one kicking the victim while the other filmed the incident using a mobile phone. Two plain clothes police officers saw the whole incident, and the assailants were immediately arrested and the mobile phone confiscated.[23]
  • Sweden, September 1, 2006: After a 16-year-old boy happy-slapped and hospitalized a 15-year-old Balkan boy in the city of Örebro, the 15-year-old's 17-year-old sister stabbed and killed the former with a hunting knife and claimed self-defense. The killing was filmed and distributed online. [24]
  • England, January 26, 2007: Andrew Elvin, 17, was jailed for a minimum of 12 years for the murder of Luke Salisbury, who died 3 days after being attacked by Elvin on March 2, 2006. Caine Hallett, 18, was sentenced to five years for manslaughter for the same incident, while a Danielle Reeves, 18, faces a retrial in May 2007 for manslaughter.[27]
  • England, July 2007: Anthony Anderson, 27, of Hartlepool, urinated on a dying woman while a friend made a video of the incident. He is reported to have yelled "This is YouTube material!" [29]
  • England, November 2007: Emily Nakanda, 15, a contestant in the TV show The X Factor, withdrew from the competition after a happy slapping video in which Nakanda allegedly attacks a teenage girl was discovered on the internet.[30]
  • England, February 2008: A 15-year-old girl has admitted filming the death of Gavin Waterhouse, 29, on her mobile phone in a so-called "happy slapping" attack, which ruptured his spleen,[31] and has been convicted of aiding and abetting manslaughter.[32] She was sentenced to two years detention, the judge stated that the courts had to make an example of such youths.[33].
  • England, May 2008: A teenage girl fell to her death from an attic window while trying to escape a "happy slapping" girl gang.[34]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Sex attack phone girls detained
  2. ^ Akwagyiram, Alexis (2005-05-12). "Does 'happy slapping' exist?". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4539913.stm. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  3. ^ Johnston, Chris (2005-05-20). "'Happy-slap' link to TV shows". The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1620568,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  4. ^ The Phrase Finder, retrieved 2008-07-14.
  5. ^ 8-måneders fængsel for 'Happy slapping', Netavisen Sjaelland, November 9 2006 (8 months jail for Happy Slapping)
  6. ^ Oversigt over straffene i voldssager efter ændringen af straffelovens §§ 244 - 246, Prosecutor General of Denmark (Overview of punishments in cases of violence after change of §244 - 246)
  7. ^ Slap med bøde for happy slapping, by Peter Banke, BT, April 19 2006 (Got off with a fine for Happy slapping)
  8. ^ (French)Legislative file on the site of the French National Assembly
  9. ^ (French)Law #2007-297
  10. ^ Commission de la carte d'identité des journalistes professionnels
  11. ^ Work Code, article L761-2, article L761-15, article L761-16
  12. ^ Communiqué
  13. ^ (French)Communiqué
  14. ^ Times Online, March 9, 2007; Associated Press, March 11, 2007; Weekly Standard, March 14, 2007
  15. ^ Communiqué from Reporters without Borders, April 13, 2007; answer by Nicolas Sarkozy
  16. ^ http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23400798-38200,00.html
  17. ^ "Mother rages at 'slap attackers'". BBC News. 2005-05-19. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/4563419.stm. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  18. ^ "Girl shot in 'happy slap' attack". The Times. 2005-06-09. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article531471.ece. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  19. ^ "Girl's rape 'filmed by teenagers on mobile'". The Times. 2005-06-18. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article534788.ece. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  20. ^ "Youths jailed for barman killing". BBC News. 2007-01-23. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/4637382.stm. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  21. ^ Summers, Chris (2005-12-14). "Feral pack who thrived on violence". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4410462.stm. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  22. ^ "Jail For Happy Slap Killers". Sky News. 2006-01-23. http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-13497289,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  23. ^ "Mænd sparkede tilfældig, mens politiet så det", Jyllands-Posten, May 11, 2006
  24. ^ "Isosisko pisti kuoliaaksi pikkuveljensä hakkaajan Örebrossa" (in Finnish). Turun Sanomat. 2006-09-05. http://www.turunsanomat.fi/ulkomaat/?ts=1,3:1003:0:0,4:3:0:1:2006-09-05,104:3:402952,1:0:0:0:0:0:. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  25. ^ "DVD school in despair". The Age. 2006-10-27. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2006/10/27/1161749297302.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  26. ^ "Teens face DVD porn charges". The Age. 2007-03-08. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/03/08/1173166839072.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  27. ^ "Life for 'happy slap' murder boy". BBC News. 2007-01-26. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/southern_counties/6303599.stm. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  28. ^ "Six teens bailed in 'happy slap' inquiry". The Argus. 2007-02-14. http://www.theargus.co.uk/search/display.var.1191429.0.six_teens_bailed_in_happy_slap_inquiry.php. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  29. ^ USA Today: Man urinates on dying woman, declaring it "YouTube material"
  30. ^ "X Factor Emily pulls out of show". BBC News. 2 November 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7075263.stm. Retrieved on 2007-11-02. 
  31. ^ "'Happy slap' attack girl guilty". BBC News. 14 February 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7244782.stm?lsm. Retrieved on 2008-02-14. 
  32. ^ "'Happy slap' death girl convicted". BBC News. February 14, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/west_yorkshire/7244782.stm. Retrieved on 2008-02-14. 
  33. ^ "Girl jailed for filming 'happy-slap' killing". The Guardian. March 18, 2008. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/mar/18/happyslap.killing. Retrieved on 2008-03-18. 
  34. ^ "Teen girl dies fleeing 'happy slap' gang". news.com.au. 2008-05-20. http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23729199-2,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-05-20. 

[edit] External links

Personal tools