Marybeth Hicks
It’s been two weeks since middle schooler Josie Lou Ratley, 15, was brutally beaten at a school bus stop outside the Deerfield Beach Middle School in Deerfield Beach, FL.

She’s been in a medically induced coma since the day of the attack. Doctors report she isn’t getting any worse, but she isn’t getting better either.

The story made headlines because another 15-year-old beat Miss Ratley – a high school boy named Wayne Treacy – who became angry over text messages sent to him by Miss Ratley disparaging Treacy’s late brother, who committed suicide last fall.

The texts prompted Treacy to announce to friends that he planned to kill the girl, and by all accounts that’s what he intended when he pounded her head on the concrete sidewalk several times, and then kicked her repeatedly with his steel-toed boot.

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The two teens didn’t actually know one another. In fact, Treacy almost attacked the wrong girl until his girlfriend directed him to Miss Ratley.

According to reports, Miss Ratley had allowed the 13-year-old girlfriend – a schoolmate – to communicate with Treacy by using her cell phone for text messages.

One report indicates Miss Ratley found the nature of the relationship between Treacy and her friend inappropriate and said so in texts to Treacy, which escalated into the insensitive and unkind message she apparently sent regarding the boy’s late brother.

Treacy has been charged with attempted first-degree murder. He’s being held in a juvenile detention center while authorities decide whether to charge him as an adult. His girlfriend also has been charged as an accessory to attempted murder. (Her name has been withheld due to her age).

Meanwhile, as she waits at her daughter’s bedside for an outcome that looks increasingly bleak, Miss Ratley’s mother, Hilda, bravely urged the public not to let the event simply pass by, but to use it as a teachable moment.

A magnanimous sentiment, but just what should the lesson of this teachable moment be?

As you might expect, the incident set off an explosion of internet articles on the proper use of texting for tweens and teens, cyber bullying, school security issues, anger management for youngsters, and of course, the role of the US Department of Education in curbing school-based violence.

Marybeth Hicks

Marybeth Hicks is the author of Don't Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left's Assault on Our Families, Faith, and Freedom (Regnery Publishers, 2011).