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Teen Love Triangle Explodes on Facebook; Cyberbullying on the Internet
Aired April 21, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: All right. Here we go.
Tonight, disturbing new details about this -- a teen is lured to a death trap, beaten, shot and burned. Who could do such a thing?
Then, cyber-stalking. A 12-year-old`s Facebook friends are accused of some really awful things involving her photo.
And we`re going to talk about concussions, their lasting, sometimes permanent and progressive effects. Moms and dads, you want to se this.
So let`s get going.
This is just horrific. Tonight, kids killing.
We just received new information about a teen love triangle that exploded on Facebook, turning deadly. Is it possible for an adolescent, a young man, not even a young adult yet, to be an evil mastermind?
The question is, how did an 18-year-old boy allegedly convince four young friends -- and listen to this -- and his girlfriend`s stepfather, a middle-aged man, an adult, to help him commit a gruesome murder? Did the Internet fuel this crime?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything you want to say for yourself, Mike?
PINSKY (voice-over): That teenager is at the center of a hideous murder investigation in central Florida. It all unfolded on Facebook between 18-year-old Mike Bargo, his 15-year-old girlfriend, and her ex- boyfriend, the victim, 15-year-old Seath Tyler Jackson. Mike and two friends allegedly attacked Seath, beating him, shooting him to death, and stuffing the body in a sleeping bag, then burning it.
Look at this victim`s face. He is a child. Are kids really capable of this?
PINSKY: All right. So that`s why I wanted to do this story tonight. I know people at home have heard this story. It`s all over the place. There`s no way you can miss it.
And everyone is sitting at home scratching their head, wondering how this is even possible, how they can protect their kids. I want to make sense of this for everybody.
Joining me are attorney Casey Jordan and psychiatrist Dr. Charles Sophey. They`re here to help us get a handle on this.
Casey, do you have any sense of what might have contributed to these kids behaving like this ?
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, we know that the 15-year-old girl and her boyfriend, Seath, had actually broken up a few weeks ago and were kind of going back and forth on Facebook. And he seemed to be trying to make peace, and it would amp up and a lot of name calling. And then very - - a lot of contempt.
And in the meantime, her new boyfriend, the 18-year-old, entered the conversation. And more and more people actually got in on the Facebook conversation.
But remember, when you`re on a computer, it`s not really real in your mind. And it`s not the same kind of conversation you would ever have if you had to face the person in real life, face to face, eye to eye. And then this plan was hatched to get revenge on the 15-year-old, Seath.
PINSKY: When I read this story -- and again, trying to make sense of it for my viewers, I immediately wonder whether or not there was drugs and alcohol involved. I mean, these days, I really believe that is the issue of our time.
And when you see just things you can`t understand, usually drugs and alcohol are involved. Apparently, Seath posted a Facebook comment referring to his ex-girlfriend, saying she smoked meth every day and "loved the stuff."
So, Casey, do you have any sense that drugs could have been a part of this ?
JORDAN: Yes, I don`t think he would make that up. In fact, he said repeatedly that she had a problem with drugs on the Facebook exchange. And this apparently is what she took great exception to.
The day before he was attacked, apparently he tried to make more peace one last time, I`m sick of fighting, go on, move on with your life, I don`t care. But he got one more zinger in about her being on drugs.
And that apparently was the tipping point, the straw that broke the camel`s back, complained to her new boyfriend, Mike. And I think that`s when the plan was hatched to lure Seath to that home, beat him, shoot him and burn his body.
PINSKY: Oh. Listen, again, you look -- you think -- Dr. Sophey, you hear the story and you shake your head. In my world when there`s violence that is, like, reprehensible, like hard to get your head around, in my world, that`s methamphetamine.
DR. CHARLES SOPHEY, PSYCHIATRIST: It`s something.
PINSKY: It`s something. Well, it`s something, that`s for sure.
But methamphetamine, for me -- and again, I`m trying to make sense of this for the viewers -- at least -- I don`t know these people, but you have to suspect that. And we say -- remember the aphorism, "speed kills"?
PINSKY: It turns out -- I once heard one of the guys talk who coined that term. And he said, you know, we didn`t mean that speed is going to kill you, we meant that people on speed kill other people.
PINSKY: So what do you think?
SOPHY: The body is far ahead of you. You can`t control it. It`s running ahead of you.
You have no control over your impulses. And if you feel like you`re angry at somebody, you`re not going to be able to control that. You`re going to be really angry at somebody.
PINSKY: The crazy thing here, though, is that, let`s say there was speed involved. How did he mastermind -- an adult is involved with this. What do you think happened there?
SOPHY: Well, they may have all been on drugs. Who knows?
PINSKY: They may have.
SOPHY: That`s the bottom line. I mean, there`s some collusion going on here.
PINSKY: Here`s a sound bite of the stepdad of two of the minor suspects who allegedly dumped Seath`s body. This guy is out on bail, and a reporter caught up with him. Here`s what he had to say about this. It`s too much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES HAVENS, STEPFATHER OF ACCUSED MURDERER: I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I was in the wrong place with all these kids. And I let these kids do something they shouldn`t have did. I left that night. I didn`t think nothing of it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn`t think they were being serious?
HAVENS: No, I didn`t think it was serious. I went away. I left.
I thought it was a joke because, you know, I mean -- I don`t know what to say because I`m looking at a lot of years right now. I`m scared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: One part of me wants to reach the screen and throttle that guy. Another part, I still -- my head is kind of spinning. I still want to understand where this came from.
Looking at that, hearing that, do you have any sense what might be going on with him?
SOPHY: Well, I mean, you can clearly see that he`s not even speaking properly. So maybe there`s some deficits going on from an intellectual standpoint and an inability to process stuff the right way. So you have big boy crimes with little boy minds, and they don`t always mix.
PINSKY: Wow. So, one of the things that, again, comes up on this program all the time is when people start to use other people as objects.
PINSKY: When they lose that capacity to emphasize and realize other people have agency -- can you talk a little bit about what kinds of circumstances can lead to that?
SOPHY: Well, I mean, the ability, like you said, you disconnect. You don`t see that person as a person. So, when you`re on the Internet, you don`t have that filter, as Casey was saying, where you have to look somebody in the eye, you have to feel something when you see that person. You can`t ignore those feelings.
PINSKY: And yet, they got ramped up to the point where they no longer felt anything when the guy showed up and they cut him apart.
SOPHY: Well, if you`re on drugs, you`re going to feel even less.
PINSKY: If they weren`t on drugs, is there anything else that`s commonly --
PINSKY: -- I guess for people at home -- because I`m sure mothers and fathers are going, well, how do I know if my kid, or how do I protect them?
We`ve got a few seconds. What do you think?
SOPHY: You`ve got to know your kid. You`ve got to know the red flags of your child. Know your child. And when things start to change, look at what`s changing and why it is changing. And you`ve got to know.
PINSKY: And get help.
When we come back, if you think you have friends on Facebook, do not be so sure. There`s a shocking Cyberbullying story next.
And later, we`ll talk about sports-related head injuries that affect players and their families and maybe -- maybe even you.
PINSKY: I think you know I can`t get this cyberbullying stuff out of my craw. And that last story was just -- it`s just a grotesque example. And I`m wondering if it has something to do with cyberbullying. So we`re going to continue to pursue that story.
There`s another example tonight about Facebook and photos and how sometimes the two are just a bad mix out there in the Internet. Listen to this.
Two little girls, they`re 11 and 12, like sixth-graders. They`re accused of altering a friend`s Facebook photo to be lewd and violent. And it appeared as if the victim was propositioning other boys -- and I mean boys -- for sex, because there`s not -- these are not young men. These are little kids.
Joining us, are 12-year-old Leslie Cote and her mother, Tara, and her stepfather, John Knight. And, as well, we have Stefanie Tomas from the Seattle Police Department`s Internet Crimes division.
I want to thank all of you.
As well, back with us is psychiatrist Dr. Charles Sophey.
Those images remain disturbing. I want to know from Tara what you thought about them.
TARA COTE, DAUGHTER WAS CYBERBULLIED: I was completely disgusted. Literally sick to my stomach.
PINSKY: And what did you do?
COTE: I just basically had -- when I initially found out about those pictures, I had to leave the room. And I told John -- I`m like, "We have to shut this back down," because we had to see what the damage they did.
And he deactivated the account. And then, right then, we were like, OK, we`re going to work a plan. Who did this? And my gut instinct was one of the girls has been a bully toward my daughter, Leslie, since fourth grade. And immediately, that name came to my mind.
PINSKY: And John, my understanding is you actually did a little detective work here, right?
JON KNIGHT, STEPDAUGHTER WAS CYBERBULLIED: I did. I had a really good idea of who did it once we found out about it. And I did go to their home and I asked them about it, and at first they denied it. And when I told them that -- I kind of fibbed a little bit. I told them we traced the IP address right to there and the police were already on the way.
And then they just both started begging us to forgive them and not to have the police come. And they were telling me they didn`t mean to do it. But obviously they meant to do it. They actually had control of that Facebook page for a good seven hours.
PINSKY: Well, the question to me is, what did those young girls` parents do? How did they respond to this?
KNIGHT: Well --
T. COTE: They didn`t even know until we contacted them to come to their house and said that, you need to come now, the police are on their way.
PINSKY: Stef, I`m going to go to you.
And Leslie, I thank you also. I`m going to be with you in just a second.
But Stef, this is not uncommon, is it, that parents have no idea what kids are doing on the Internet?
STEFANIE THOMAS, SEATTLE P.D. INTERNET CRIMES: Right. This is a huge issue in this area and all around the country, the disconnect between what parents think their kids are doing online, and then, in turn, what their children are actually participating in. And it goes back to both educating both students and parents alike.
PINSKY: What should those parents do?
THOMAS: Well, first of all, it goes back to parents providing their children with this technology and not effectively monitoring it. That is a big issue that the Internet Crimes Against Children and Taskforce tries to address by educating parents, but it goes back to being involved, giving your child this technology, and then just letting them go to their room, not monitoring what they`re doing. Most parents don`t want to look at the possibility that their child could be a bully, so they`re not looking for those signs.
PINSKY: Well, let`s take this example as a case study, and let`s say you discover that your kids are doing something your don`t like on the Internet -- this is an extreme example of that. What should parents do? Do you have some specific suggestions?
THOMAS: Well, specifically, I think you need to stress the issue is, you know, the same way you treat people in real life is the same way you treat people on the Internet. Kids and teenagers tend to hold two completely different standards for what they`re willing to say to somebody`s face and behaviors they`re willing to do in front of a live audience, and a completely different set of standards for what they`re willing to do behind a keyboard and behind a cell phone. And stressing that with kids, especially at a young age, is very important, because it goes back to that online reputation and digital citizenship that`s so important nowadays with the technology.
PINSKY: I want to go back to Leslie now. And I find that oftentimes, the greatest wisdom comes from the young people who are in there fighting these fights.
Leslie, what did you think when this was happening to you? Is this uncommon? Was this a big surprise? Are you just one of many kids that have to suffer this way?
LESLIE COTE, CYBERBULLIED: It was a very big surprise, and it was actually scary and really inappropriate that I didn`t really like it. And kids don`t like to talk about this kind of --
PINSKY: Have other kids come to you and supported you? Or did other kids -- how were your sort of peer, the other kids your age, reacting to this incident?
L. COTE: Well, first, when I got to school, they were all staring at me and thought I was weird. And then after a while, people forgot about it and then it just got better.
PINSKY: So you`re doing OK now?
L. COTE: Yes.
Dr. Sophey, we`re back in the studio with you here.
So I want to ask you the same question I asked Stef, which is, let`s say you become aware that a kid is doing something you don`t like on the Internet. Are there specific kinds of steps we can give people out there to intervene?
First of all, we were all saying the same thing, which is monitor what they`re doing, participate in their lives. But let`s say you find something you don`t like.
SOPHY: Well, I mean, first of all, educate yourself to this device you`re giving your child. So, if you don`t know how to work it, you`re not going to know what to check on.
Monitor, rules, times of days, know where they go. And then if you discover something like that, that is a red flag. Do not ignore it.
Jump in, ask your child, find out who they`ve reached. Because what people don`t understand is these are crimes. And even if they`re not forcible by legal ramifications that they`re crimes, you`re still able to footprint a lot of that stuff to see where they`re coming from. And I don`t think children oftentimes understand that.
So that`s part of the education. But if you see something, jump on it.
PINSKY: Jon, I`m going to back out to you again and ask, what happened after these girls were begging for forgiveness? Where did the story go from there?
KNIGHT: We did have -- we had the police coming. And unfortunately, sadly enough, the police, when they first arrived, the officer didn`t want to do a report. He kept insisting that they`re just kids.
And we know -- the problem is, there`s a history -- with one of the girls, especially, there is a history. And enough is enough at a certain point with the bullying and the terrorizing, and it`s -- at some point the bullying has got to stop and a precedent needs to be set.
Now, in regards to the last comments, too, is we do monitor what Leslie does, but these kids are pretty savvy, too. And when they took over her Facebook page, the first thing they did was they blocked her mother, me, and all the other family members, so we had no idea what was going on. And Tara and Leslie were out together while this was happening.
PINSKY: Leslie, how did they get the pictures?
L. COTE: They must have looked them up on Google and then just --
T. COTE: No, no, the pictures. How did they get your pictures? Those pictures --
PINSKY: Maybe, Tara, you can help her out with that a little bit.
L. COTE: Yes. Well, they were on my pictures, and they took them, and then they went on this, like, little software thing called Picnik. And they, like, morphed my pictures and then put stuff on them, like, inappropriate --
T. COTE: You can say.
L. COTE: They said I`m a slut.
PINSKY: Oh, God.
Stef, my understanding is you educated me today when I spoke to you -- I think it was you I was talking to earlier about some Web site they go to and they blast anonymous statements. Tell me about that.
THOMAS: Yes, Formspring. It`s a Web site in which teenagers and young kids are using to ask each other anonymous questions, which the Web site has it advertised as sort of what`s your favorite song, what`s your favorite vacation spot? But you hide behind this ability to be anonymous.
And so teenagers, middle school, high school, they`re not using the Web site for those purposes. It`s all very sexually explicit, it`s humiliating, and you can link it to Facebook and Twitter, that sort of leads to more mass humiliation.
PINSKY: I mean, here`s one thing about the Internet. You know, things that can be a liability can also be an asset.
And I`ve always thought that if I was on top of the Internet, it could be an asset. In other words, if I had all the pass codes to my kids` stuff, and if I could go downstream and even see what other kids are saying and doing, and really was diligent about the monitoring, this would be a useful tool.
Tara, did you think so at one time?
T. COTE: Well, initially, when Leslie wanted a Facebook account, we said we`re going to know the password, and it`s going to be fixed where the settings and all the announcements is going to go to my phone, not hers. So anything that she streamed, anything she put on her wall, it went to my phone.
But I wasn`t concerned with that because she was only allowed to be friends with people that were family members, church members, coaches, and friends from school. So we fixed it. She could not even accept new friendships from anybody. So they -- you know, the damage that these girls do -- I should say they did -- it`s still under damage control that I`m still trying to figure out how to clean it all up.
PINSKY: It`s really -- yes, I understand it`s a cautionary tale. So even being diligent.
Here`s what someone posted on Tara`s Facebook page. And this is, again, these girls being very savvy. "Can I have condoms for my birthday this year?" I mean, it gets -- to see this stuff -- yes. I mean, to see this stuff --
T. COTE: And then they deleted me after that. So then I couldn`t erase it right away.
KNIGHT: You couldn`t see it because we were blocked.
T. COTE: Because we were deleted.
PINSKY: Again, so this is about aggression, guys. This is about our kids and aggression, and their inability to contain their aggression.
And the Internet has merely become a tool for acting out aggression. And frankly, it`s disgusting. It`s becoming really disgusting.
And we`ve had -- what have we -- this is our second story today where people have been harmed by this. And the one in the previous block was ridiculous, went to a place of true aggression, absolute violence.
At what point are we going to contain this? At what point are we going to be able to look at kids that are at risk and identify it, and do something useful and intervene?
When we come back, we`re going to look inside the mind of a child that`s a cyberbully.
And later, head injuries and the devastating lasting effects they have not just on the athletes, but on their families.
PINSKY: We are back with our guests.
Leslie Cote was an object of cyberbullying.
Any last thoughts, Tara?
T. COTE: Be a parent. I mean, monitor what your kids do.
If you`re not being proactive in your kid`s life, and you`re not taking, you know, all the necessary things to do to watch what your kids are doing to who are their friends, who do they hang out, if you`re not being a part of your child`s life, then you should have no business being a parent. Because as far as I`m concerned, this wouldn`t have happened if these parents would have paid attention to the actions of these two girls.
PINSKY: I want to thank you guys for sharing the courageous story.
And as in relation to that comment, I want to educate my viewers, too, because knowing what`s out there and what you have got to look for is very important.
So I want you to look at these categories of cyberbullying. It`s something I`m going to bring up a few times because I want you to get familiar with it.
First in the category is something we call the mean girl category. We should have a full -- there it is.
The mean girl category is egotistical, immature, bored. They look at it as entertainment and they need an audience. They usually have a group with them when they do that kind of cyberbullying.
A second category is something we call the revenge of the nerds. They target single victims, they keep their actions secretive. They can be rather dangerous. But they feel sort of justified in their actions.
There`s also another category called the power hungry cyberbullies. They want to control others. This is real severe acting out of aggression. It can obviously escalate offline to other and more aggressive actions.
And then, finally, there is the vengeful angels. These are people they believe they`re righting wrongs, they`re protecting others, they`re going after villains.
All of these are cyberbullies. There`s even another category -- it`s in the grab bag -- called the inadvertent cyberbully, meaning some kind that just acts out in aggression in the moment. They`re really trying to be tough, pretending to be tough. They don`t really realize -- they aren`t having a pattern of cyberbullying, but just an impulsive act.
But all of this is cyberbullying.
So, the question, Dr. Sophey, how is there such a disconnect between the child that we love and know and the way they act out on the Internet?
SOPHY: Well, I think what you just said, the child that you love and know. I don`t know if you really know your child. That`s the bottom line.
And kids have a thing I call muscles, cyberbullying muscles, like beer muscles. They`re tougher behind that screen. They can be aggressive, they can be somebody they`re not. And if they have a disconnect going on in their life, and they have aggression, or that you`re not aware of what`s going on with your child, that`s the avenue that that takes.
PINSKY: Is there more unregulated aggression today?
SOPHY: Oh, absolutely. And there`s more means for it to come out without your name on it, they think. But you can footprint right back to yourself.
PINSKY: And is -- where is the source of unregulated aggression? Is the Internet fueling it, or is it our destroyed families, or is it --
SOPHY: It`s probably a little bit of both.
SOPHY: But you`ve got stuff going on in your own home that you`ve got to know about. You`ve got to watch your child. Are they not sleeping, are they not eating? How is school going? What are the changes going on with your child? And see what`s going on, on that Internet.
PINSKY: And I would say, and I think you`d agree with me, that the scariest thing -- and Stef mentioned this to me earlier -- who, thank you, by the way, Stef, for having joined us in that last segment -- that so many times she presents the evidence of what the kids have done.
Well, actually, she goes to them and suggests something has happened. They say, not my kid, impossible.
By the way, "not my kid," the most dangerous words a parent can say. Don`t ever say that.
PINSKY: Anything is possible. Just accept that. And cultivate the word "whatever," not "not my kid."
PINSKY: Be prepared to respond if it`s your kid. And then when she would show them the data, what the kids had actually done online, they`re shocked, they deny it, they`re stunned, it`s impossible.
SOPHY: Directly related to the fact that they`re not connected to their child.
PINSKY: That`s right. That`s right.
We have to expect it, we have to be better parents. This is getting ridiculous. It`s getting disgusting. And we have to do something about it.
When we come back, we`ve got moms, dads, boys and girls. I want all of you to listen to this, how any sport can cause a concussion and maybe even something more serious.
You`ll want to see this.
PINSKY: Tonight, we are focusing on head injuries in kids. And you may wonder why I wanted to do this topic. There are a couple reasons. Spring training coming up now, I know it`s not football season, but my kids play football, I played football, and I`ve had some very, very personal experiences with this game and head injuries. I had to resuscitate a friend of my sons on the sideline with a masse intracranial bleed, very much like the story you`re about to see.
I came upon a kid who was not breathing, was posturing, meaning that his brain had been severely damaged, and I thought I was going to have a child that was at best going to be certainly not returning to school, but for the grace of God, an E.R. doctor showed up and helped me out, and he was able to arrange a neurosurgical team waiting for him at the bottom of the hill. And this kid is now in a musical, singing and dancing, back taking chemistry. I can`t believe how lucky we are, but not everyone is that lucky.
So, this has been very personal for me, and I`ve wanted to tell this story. So, parents, listen up. Brain injuries can go unnoticed, and now, we know they can also cause lifelong problems. You want to watch this story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Moms and dads, if you go to high school football games, the stakes are high. Kids play a mean game. They emulate their heroes in the pros, playing through concussion. They`re getting hit, staying in the game, and ending up with traumatic brain injuries. That`s what happened to 13-year-old Zackery Lystedt, a catastrophic injury almost took his life. It wasn`t until later that anyone realized just bad it was. He was in a coma for 30 days and on life support for seven days before regaining consciousness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): So, this is an injury that can happen from football. It`s the very injury that I resuscitated the kid from. We`re here with Zach. This injury almost ended his life, and we`re here to hear their story. His family has been advocating in a positive way. Joining me are Victor and Zackery Lystedt and neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher. Welcome to the show. So, Victor, tell us first about the positive advocacy and then I want to hear your story.
VICTOR LYSTEDT, ZACKERY`S DAD: Well, we didn`t want this to happen to other families the way it`s happened to us. And understanding that, you know, education is the key when it comes to concussion management. We decided to implement a law in our states named after our son, Zackery. It`s called the Zackery Lystedt Law, and what it does, first of all, it educates people on concussion management, parents, teachers, coaches, players. And so, everyone has to sign off on a form that says that they`ve been educated on education of management.
PINSKY: It basically gets kids off the field that have had head whacks, basically.
VICTOR LYSTEDT: It does that, but first of all, it educates them, and then, if they show any signs or symptoms of a head injury, they`re immediately removed from play, and they can`t go back into a game, unless, they`ve been cleared by a trained medical professional that knows how to treat and manage concussions.
PINSKY: And I said, both my sons played football. One of them ended his football career because of a third concussion. That`s the other reason this is so deeply meaningful to me. My other one is going to play college football, and I`m a little freaked out. Zach, do you remember what happened that day?
ZACKERY LYSTEDT, SUFFERED BRAIN INJURY DURING GAME: Well, I don`t remember that whole year.
ZACKERY LYSTEDT: But I do remember seeing a light and everything like that.
PINSKY: Yes. Wow. Victor, tell us the story. It must have been devastated. Again, the young man I worked on, his dad was standing by, went it all, went down, and I thought to myself, oh, I don`t think he understand what is going on here.
VICTOR LYSTEDT: Yes, I did understand. I knew something was bad. So, at the end of the game, Zach returned to play after his first concussion in the second quarter. He was a linebacker and a fullback, and he played every down. He missed three plays, came back into the game in the second half, and at the end of the game, he was shaking his head, and it wasn`t a good shake. And then, I walked out and asked him what was going on.
He said, daddy, my head hurts, it hurts. And he, you know, kids going, you know, almost 14 don`t call their dad daddy anymore. It wasn`t going in the right direction. And it was hurting him so bad that I was trying to set him down and another dad came out knew something was really bad. We were trying to walk him off the field.
And he`s like, dad, dad, don`t put me down, don`t put me down, my head hurts, dad, it hurts. And when I looked into his eyes, his right pupil had blown, and then, he went into everything that you`re talking about.
PINSKY: The posturing.
VICTOR LYSTEDT: He started posturing. He started not being able to control himself at all. And that`s when, you know -- the last thing he says, daddy, I can`t see. I laid on top of him and I just -- I wanted somebody to fix it right now. And, you know, I was just begging God to keep him alive, and it was tough. It was, of course, tough. So, we didn`t have any medical personnel on the sidelines. We had to wait for the Medevac to come in.
So, they air lifted him out, and my wife was on the way to the game, and we had to -- I had to call her and tell her, you know, to come to the hospital. Actually, somebody else did that. We got down to the hospital and that`s when we started this journey. It was -- it was a long night, and it`s been 4 1/2 years, and we`re moving in the right direction now.
PINSKY: Looking pretty good, Zach.
ZACKERY LYSTEDT: Thank you.
PINSKY: Feeling pretty good?
ZACKERY LYSTEDT: I`m feeling better, yes.
PINSKY: You`re back at school?
ZACKERY LYSTEDT: Yes, I`m taking two classes.
PINSKY: My understanding is you can walk now, too.
ZACKERY LYSTEDT: Yes.
ZACKERY LYSTEDT: Yes.
PINSKY: Do you have any message for players out there, parents out there?
ZACKERY LYSTEDT: If your child is suspected of having a brain injury, when in doubt, sit them out.
PINSKY: When in doubt, sit them out.
ZACKERY LYSTEDT: That`s what I would like.
PINSKY: I don`t know if you just invented that right here. It`s bringing tears to my eyes. When in doubt, sit them out, is that right?
VICTOR LYSTEDT: That`s absolutely right.
PINSKY: Yes. And what kinds of things should parents be concerned about or looking for?
DR. JEFFREY KUTCHER, DIRECTOR, MICHIGAN NEUROSPORT: Well, one of the challenges is brain injuries are variable injuries.
PINSKY: And let`s be clear. This was not a concussion. This was an intracranial hemorrhage.
PINSKY: Probably some weakness in his vessels that got triggered by the head injury. What are you saying?
KUTCHER: I was saying that that was part of it.
KUTCHER: The hemorrhage revolved. It probably was a concussion involved.
PINSKY: To begin with. Right. The concussion was caused the vascular process.
KUTCHER: It had more than a concussion.
KUTCHER: But either case, it`s something that it`s difficult to recognize sometimes because it can be really subtle changes in people`s personalities. It can be things that don`t maybe seem that important at first. That`s why this law is so important because it gives people the opportunity to once you even suspect it, you have to bring the person out and observe them and do an evaluation before things get too serious.
PINSKY: We`re going to get into concussion in more detail in next segment, but what is it about the repetitive head injury that leads to situations like this and is of such concern?
KUTCHER: So, there is the second-impact syndrome is a description of a type of injury, essentially, where you have one hit, you have a concussion. While the brain is still vulnerable from that first injury, a second hit causes a much more serious injury.
PINSKY: And that is more concussion or bleed? Which are two different things again.
KUTCHER: And that is exactly -- that`s a great question.
KUTCHER: That has not entirely been defined. So, it`s really second (INAUDIBLE) to me is more just a concept of when you have the first injury --
PINSKY: Sit them out. Sit them out. Don`t worry about what`s coming next. Sit them out.
KUTCHER: Whether it`s a worse concussion or a bleed.
PINSKY: I feel like You have something to say?
VICTOR LYSTEDT: Oh, you know, I have lots to say.
PINSKY: Is that true of your dad, in general?
ZACKERY LYSTEDT: Yes.
PINSKY: We want you, for parents at home, you know, again, people are going to put my kids -- I`m putting my kids in football --
VICTOR LYSTEDT: Well, you know, this is like what we`ve done is and there`s been so many people that have started this pioneer movement of education. And what you`re doing is doing that same thing, and it`s going to save lives. This show is going to save people`s lives just because people are going to start thinking about concussion, concussion management, education, what should I do?
And the easiest thing to do is to get looked at, is to get treated, you know, and time heals concussions. And if you don`t give the time, you know, I don`t think people really would want to do what we do every day.
PINSKY: Victor, I hear you, and I want to thank you for, first of all, creating the law, secondly, sharing your story with us, and three, being such a great advocate and really being of service to everybody out there. You know, there`s a certain amount of risk in your kids playing sports no matter what the sport is. Football being a high-impact sport, having lots of risk, but let`s try to save lives, diminish that risk, and I hope that`s what we`re doing here today. Zackery, buddy, thank you so much.
ZACKERY LYSTEDT: Nice to meet you.
PINSKY: Nice to meet you, too, my friend. Appreciate it.
And, you, sir, stay with us for the next section. We`re going to talk more about concussion, and we`re going to talk about the lasting effects not only on the people who have them but on the wives, children and friends as well.
PINSKY: All right. Welcome back. We are talking sports and concussions. Terrifying tackles and other impacts. Major/minor can cause lifelong problems. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): So, what is a concussion? Simply a brain injury caused by a sudden blow to the head or body. What does it do? Not so simple. When the head is hit hard, it shifts or shakes inside the skull causing brain injury. It can heal, but it needs time. Often a second concussion happens too soon after the first.
That`s when brain cells die and permanent damage sets in. After a concussion, historically, many players return to the game just days or weeks later. That`s a huge problem. Those blows, big or small, may be causing brain damage that leads to a dementia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): Now, we are zeroing in on football, but I want to remind people at home that it`s not just football where people hit their head. We were talking off the air here that soccer head injuries, God knows what the martial arts sport. There are many other sports out there which probably do the same thing as football. And, you know, football, very personally important to me. I have kids who play football. I played football.
The sport did a lot for me and my kids. And we`ve got a panel of dads up here. We`re kind of laughing about this. They also know the things about this subject. Here they are. We`ve got James Washington. He`s former Dallas Cowboy, America`s team and two-time Super Bowl champ. He`s had many concussions, and he says that maybe some memory loss and headaches he`s attributing to these concussions.
He would not let his kids play football until high school. That`s interesting. We`ll talk about that. Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher is the director of the Michigan Neurosport. It`s the academic sports neurology program of the University of Michigan. He oversees their research and education initiatives. And Chris Nowinski, he`s the co-founder and president of the Sports Legacy Institute. He`s studying, actually, has the brain of our next guest`s former husband.
She is Alicia Duerson. She was married to Dave Duerson who played for the Chicago Bears, and he killed himself in February leaving instructions that his brain be left so that any visible damage could be examined. Alicia, I want to start with you. What exactly happened with Dave? Can you tell us that story?
ALICIA DUERSON, WIDOW OF NFL PLAYER, DAVE DUERSON: Well, Dave started playing football like every other person, you know, young, Pop Warner and on and on. And I`m sure when he was younger, he received concussions. And in college, he had concussions at University of Notre Dame, and so, fourth in the NFL.
PINSKY: And then, what were the symptoms that he had? I guess, ultimately, we`re talking about a severe depression here. Was he blaming his depression on his head injuries?
DUERSON: It`s weird because Dave really didn`t know what was going on with him. You have to remember, he was fine, and then, maybe, like, the last five or six years of his life started to change. So, everything was gradually going down. So, I don`t think he really understood towards the end of his life that maybe, you know, something was really, really wrong from all those concussions, because back in the day you took some, you know, they just threw you back out there. You were fine. You just go back out.
PINSKY: Chris, you actually have the brain tissue, is that right?
CHRIS NOWINSKI, PRESIDENT, SPORTS LEGACY INSTITUTE: Yes.
PINSKY: Have you had a chance to examine it?
NOWINSKI: Well, Mr. Duerson`s brain is with Dr. Ann McKee at her brain bank at the VA in Bedford, Massachusetts.
PINSKY: So, they`re going to examine it.
PINSKY: Now, this thing we`re talking about from repetitive head injury is also called traumatic encephalopathy, a chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Can you define that for people?
NOWINSKI: Sure. It`s a degenerative brain disease cause by a repetitive trauma. It starts while you`re an athlete. It progresses after you stop playing and brain cells become impaired and die over time. Over time, you`ll show symptoms like memory problem, impulse control issues, and eventually, you`ll suffer from dementia.
PINSKY: James, you had some pretty hard knocks and wax (ph) in the head.
JAMES WASHINGTON, FORMER NFL PLAYER, DALLAS COWBOYS: Both way, he says.
PINSKY: Both ways, and do you think you`re suffering from any of those injuries now?
WASHINGTON: I definitely have to say so because it`s the constant headaches that takes place and you try to figure out, OK, well, did that happen in Green Bay or did that happen when I was in high school? My first concussion occurred when I was in high school. Two concussions while I was in college, and multiple concussions, you know --
PINSKY: So, you say you`re having symptoms now, and yet, you will let your kids play in high school. The reason I ask you that way is because there are people watching at home going, oh my gosh, I don`t want my kids to play football at all. You had effects. You loved the game. You`re going to let your kids play?
WASHINGTON: My kids are not allowed to play at the middle school age and Pop Warner. The option becomes, do you want to play at high school?
PINSKY: But that`s when they`re big and they really start knocking their heads.
WASHINGTON: We talked about this. We actually talked about this in the greenroom was that, if I had an opportunity to do it all over after going through the process --
PINSKY: Even having symptoms now?
WASHINGTON: Even having the symptoms now, I would do it again.
PINSKY: Dr. Kutcher, is that a smart thing?
KUTCHER: That`s an individual choice. And I think understanding the risks that best we can that we`re putting ourselves through is the way to go, but that`s truly an individual thing.
PINSKY: But do you think it`s reasonable to wait until high school? Is that a good strategy?
KUTCHER: It`s an interesting one.
PINSKY: Or by the way, I mean, let me say again. Let me just say again. I`ve been through this very, very personally, not just with the story I told you in the first block of the show, but I have a kid who was a maniac on the football field, and he got a third concussion, and he went to see a neurologist. He was told to leave the sport and he did. And the neurologist was actually relieved when we said we were going to leave.
Most parents, apparently, yelled at him that, you know, how dare you take my kid out of sports. My son didn`t want to have permanent problems from playing high school football, and yet, the sport still did a lot for him. So, for people watching at home, what strategy should they deploy? Is it really reasonable to wait until high school which I understand why? And if so, are these new laws, some of these new awareness, and having programs like this sufficient to protect kids?
KUTCHER: I think the first thing is trying to understand the risk, itself, and trying to get a sense as to what are the chances that someone`s going to have a long-term problem from playing sports. We don`t know that. And so, there`s a lot of research we need to do. This is an area that we`re just getting started.
PINSKY: I mean, I read about in the paper all the time, and it seems like it`s -- the NFL is a huge topic right now.
WASHINGTON: Big topic.
PINSKY: Big topic, and --
KUTCHER: This is all over, but where`s the basic research?
PINSKY: So, we really -- so, maybe this is hype? Is that what we`re saying? That there`s too much hype about it?
KUTCHER: There`s a lot of hype, but I`m not going to say it`s too much.
PINSKY: No, not to say to the point that we should diminish research or not be concerned about it or not take protective measures, but it`s not unreasonable to have our kids play football. Is that what we`re saying? Chris says no. Hold on a second. Alicia is trying to ring in here. Alicia, go right ahead, please.
DUERSON: What I was going to say -- I have sons, too, and they did play football and they did start in Pop Warner and that whole little thing. Now, I believe that it`s not unreasonable to say that your children shouldn`t play. You should let them play. The problem is is that we need education. We need to put safety first. The trainers, the coaches, the parents, we all need education on concussions.
You know, some people say, oh, it`s just a mild concussion. A concussion is a concussion. I don`t care if it`s mild or severe. It doesn`t matter. And I think the younger children, when they`re playing, I think that would give them an opportunity to understand, OK, yes, my head does hurt. Mom, my heads hurt. Get them out of the game. Sit them down. Don`t let them play. What could be so bad that they miss two more games?
PINSKY: And Chris you`re a little more, you`re a little bit --
DUERSON: We all need education.
PINSKY: I agree with you, Alicia. And Chris, you`re a little more concerned on this. I see you kind of shifting around.
NOWINSKI: Well, no, I mean, you know, I played football at Harvard, and you know, I had a great time playing, but looking at it now, at the brain bank, we have over 30 football players who`ve come through and passed away. Most of them have the disease. Thirteen of the first 14 NFL players have had it. We found it in 18-year-old. We found it in a 21-year-old.
When I step back and think about this as an adult, I don`t know if any risk is worth that disease. The disease is horrible. And so, what my opinion is, we`ve been playing football wrong, and we should try to change it. We need to dramatically change it.
PINSKY: All right. We`re going to talk about that when we come back. What you need to know about concussions. We`re going to get last words from this panel when we get back.
PINSKY: We are talking about the long-term and potentially permanent damage that can be caused by concussions. I`m here with my panel, and we`re going to get some final thoughts from them. I want to start with Alicia. What do you think?
DUERSON: No one should be turned away from the game of football. America loves football. It`s America`s game, but I think we have to make it safe and we have to get educated. And people need to put safety first. And I think Dave loved the game of football. I loved watching him play and so did Chicago. So, I can`t imagine saying, don`t play football or what age you should play football. I mean, football is football, but we need to be educated on the safety of football.
PINSKY: James, thought?
WASHINGTON: As an athlete, we do not -- the game does not choose you. We choose to play the game. And if parents out there have an opportunity to let their people and the young athletes play, then they should play. But, also, you have to understand that if I play defense, I was a safety. I`m going to play at the highest level. And I just told you, going through the concussions, nine injuries in all, I still would play the game the same way, wouldn`t change anything.
It`s up to the NFL. It`s up to the Pop Warner leagues to make the equipment safer for the kids, because I don`t care, your child, my child, all we know how to do is play at a high level. The coaches on the coaching staff want you to play at a high level. So, the expectation is to win. You have to play at a high level. So, you can`t turn down that intensity, you know, because you`re about to run into someone.
PINSKY: Agree. That`s how people get hurt. So, we tell each other anyway. Dr. Kutcher, what do you think?
KUTCHER: My message to parents, to mothers out there who -- you know, should my kid play football? Talk to the coach and make sure that they`re educated about the injury and can recognize concussion when it happens. It comes down to four Rs. Recognize the concussion, remove the player if you think they are concussed, report it, and then let them recovered.
PINSKY: And the recovery is how long, a couple of weeks?
KUTCHER: As long as it takes.
PINSKY: And who decides that?
KUTCHER: A physician should decide that.
NOWINSKI: We have to remember that kids aren`t old enough to accept this risk. And it`s us as parents who get drive the safest car and put them in the car seat, the safest one possible and then drop them off to get hit in the head 1,000 times a year. So, we need to demand higher standards from our youth sports programs. Absolutely preseason education for everybody involved.
Everything that law (ph) says, but also, let`s push further, let`s take hitting out of practice. Half of the hitting happens in practice when no one is paying attention. Sports Legacy Institute works with places like New Hampshire Pop Warner. They`re take hitting out of practice. They`re just as successful. That`s the one thing you can do before next fall to reduce your lifelong brain trauma by 50 percent.
PINSKY: You don`t have a kid yet, do you, Chris?
NOWINSKI: No, I don`t.
PINSKY: When you do, football or no?
NOWINSKI: Certainly not before high school.
PINSKY: Not before high school. James, last?
WASHINGTON: Basically, it would be high school before they play.
PINSKY: Fair enough. I just want to say thank you to panel, by the way. Alicia, thank you. I know that`s a rough story (ph) for you. Thank you for being of service. Chris, Dr. Kutcher, James, really, this is a panel that I said could do a symposium for next three days on this very topic, and I hope people get something to take away from this, but I agree. I think hitting in practice is a major issue. You reduce injuries by 50 percent you say?
NOWINSKI: You can reduce -- yes concussions and hits to the head by 50 percent.
PINSKY: Fifty percent, so there`s something dramatic that you can do right there. I guess, New Hampshire is doing that already?
NOWINSKI: New Hampshire Pop Warner, Fairfield County, a lot of leagues --
PINSKY: OK. Remember, this is not just football, and education is the key, not just educating the coaches and the parents but the kids. The kids are the ones -- the story I told you in the last block about the kid that had the intracranial bleed was complaining to his peers and didn`t want the coach to know. If the peers had known that it was a sign of something serious, the whole thing could have been prevented. So, education for everybody.
Thank you for watching. We`ll see you next time.