Parent upset after 4th graders shown reenactment of slave owner beating slave

Roanoke County parent says video is too graphic

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – A local parent has complained to her 9-year-old daughter’s school, saying a video her teacher showed in class was too graphic.

Part of the video shows a reenactment of a slave owner beating a slave.

Kimberly Hutchinson says her daughter is too young to see that kind of violence. The teacher showed it to a 4th-grade class earlier this month at Glen Cove Elementary School in Roanoke County.

“I was so shocked, so shocked,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said she wants the school to require teachers to ask for permission from parents before showing videos that kids could find upsetting.

“I just think it's far too mature for a 9-year-old,” she said.

Hutchinson said her daughter told her she was having upsetting dreams.

“I believe she's damaged from it and I believe she's permanently scarred. I don't think it's something she'll ever forget,” she said.

The Scholastic Corporation released the half-hour video in 1999. It’s the story of a young slave, depicting many aspects of what life was like at the time. It includes a section that shows a slave owner whipping a slave, including the man’s bloody back afterward.

“I know she's going to see things like that and the world’s a crazy place, but when I send her to school, I expect that to be somewhat of a safe haven,” Hutchinson said. "If you feel it's OK for your child, that's fine but I don't feel like it's OK for my child."

A Roanoke County Schools spokesperson said the school district supports the teacher’s lesson, adding that, “The teacher used historically accurate materials to help students discuss and understand the conditions enslaved African Americans faced.”

The spokesperson said Hutchinson is the only parent who has complained.

Hutchinson said the school principal told her the video won't be shown again.

"It saddens me that they support the teacher,” Hutchinson said.

She added that she thinks the video is well-intentioned and could be shown to older children.