Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Help Me Howard: Bullies
Being a child in school can be tough. Being a child that is bullied, picked on and beaten is horrible. But it's happening to students all over this country and with terrible consequences. So what can a parent do if the school doesn't go after the bullies? Let's bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for some answers.
WSVN -- A Miramar girl was bullied and her face slashed by a classmate.
An 11-year-old boy bullied and his arm broken.
And a 13-year-old Central Florida girl was bullied so much her father stormed the bus to go after the kids attacking his daughter.
If you are a parent, the thought of your child being bullied is frightening.
Stacy: "They normally bother him in the hallways or in class. They're threatening him after school, saying that they're going to jump him."
Stacy's teenage son has been bullied by gang members since starting at his Broward middle school this year.
Stacy: "One of the boys at his school, in the gang, they came up to him and hit him in his face."
Stacy says after being hit, her son went to the principal's office to complain.
Stacy: "And told the principal, and he told us it would be taken care of."
But right after that, her son was attacked by the same gang of students in school again.
Stacy: "When he hit my son in the face, my son dropped his book bag. When he dropped his book bag, 12 guys came out of nowhere and surrounded him, and they was like, 'If you hit him, we're going to get you.'"
Stacy then went to meet with the principal.
Stacy: "We sat down and talked about it, and he wanted to know who it was, and, 'I assure you everything will be taken care of.'"
After that meeting, her son says the kids came after him in the classroom. We are not showing his face or giving his mother's last name so he won't be targeted even more.
Stacy's son: "One day, I got stabbed, like, two times with a needle. We were doing a project in my science class, and the kid came up to me and stabbed me right in my shoulder."
Stacy complained about each attack. But she says the kids who did the bullying kept bullying.
Stacy: "I'm asking my son every day, 'What's being done? Are the kids still there?' And he's like, 'Yeah, Mama. They come to school every day.' So I'm wondering what was done."
And Stacy says her son is not the only one being attacked at Gulfstream Middle School.
Stacy: "It's not only my son that they're bothering. They're bothering a lot of other kids also."
The final incident came last week.
Stacy: "He was walking home from school, him and a friend, and one of the gang members, one of the same guys, walked up to his friend and showed his friend a gun in his pocket, and that was it for me."
With the school apparently ignoring the problems, Stacy had enough.
Stacy: "I'm terrified. That's why I withdrew him from school, because when I started hearing about the guns and the knives, that did it for me. That was it. That was the last straw."
But when Stacy tried to put her son in another Broward school, she says she was told he had to stay in his neighborhood school.
Stacy: "So now, he's just sitting at home with me."
Well Howard, what can you do about a bully?
Howard Finkelstein: "Bullying is such a serious problem that the Florida legislature passed a law that requires each school district to enforce anti-bullying rules. That requires the district to investigate every complaint to protect the victim and if serious enough, send the bully or bullies to another school."
When we contacted the Broward School District and asked if the bullies had been disciplined or were still at the school, they told us, the district cannot discuss discipline actions taken regarding a student.
But Stacy's son won't have to deal with them anymore. Stacy says she was denied the right to transfer her son, but after we got involved, she contacted a nearby charter school that accepted her son. She and her son are happy. As Howard says, no one should tolerate any type of bullying.
Howard Finkelstein: "The law says that bullying is not just beating someone up. It also includes threats, insults, intimidation, even Internet humiliation. No parent or child should have to put up with this, and as we have seen recently, the consequences can be fatal. And if you don't think your school is doing the right thing, you can go to court and a judge can force them to do the right thing."
Stacy is glad she found a way to stop the bullies and hopes every other parent does the same thing.
Stacy: "I just want to say something to the parents. For the parents, just to be aware, ask your children are they being harassed at school, because they may be terrified as my son was, and they may not want to say anything. They may be too scared to say anything."
Patrick Fraser: "Now if you are watching, saying, 'My child was bullied, and I am not satisfied with what was done,' the school districts want to hear from you. The district will investigate. Make the call. Don't accept bullying. It's your child that could be in danger."
Been bullied and ready to fight back? You don't need to take a class. Contact us. The law can be elementary, and we will help you take them to school.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Miami-Dade County Bully Complaints
You can remain anonymous.
To report bullying, call 754-321-0911. The principal or designee will take specific steps to investigate all complaints of bullying. They must start the investigation within two days and complete it within 10 days. You can remain anonymous.
If you are not satisfied with the results, you can appeal. One way to appeal is to call a different hotline number, 754-321-0725, and they will investigate further.
Monroe County does not have a hotline number, but anyone, teacher, student or parent, can fill out a report and either e-mail it or drop it off at the office. Also, several schools have drop boxes where reports can dropped anonymously.