Students explain frustrations with bullies
LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- We've received dozens of calls from you telling us about your child being bullied.
In a special assignment report, Valerie Chinn sat down with local students who have been terrorized by bullies in their schools and reveals what the JCPS school district is doing about the problem.
The faces of students being bullied at school include 10-year-old Brianna Heck, her brother 11-year-old John, 11-year-old Cameron Sturgill, and 15-year-old Brianna Barker.
Brianna Heck tells WDRB News, "They're cussing at me and threatening me," while Cameron Sturgill says, "I was being bullied a lot, someone came and in the bathroom and hit me into a bathroom stall and broke half of my tooth."
Brianna Barker, a Johnson Traditional Middle School student, says, "She walked up to the front of the bus and punched me."
Those Jefferson County Public School students all have a different story to tell about attacks at school. According to a study by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, as many as half of all children are bullied at some point in elementary and middle school.
At least 10 percent of them are bullied on a regular basis, whether it be verbal, emotional, physical, or online. We found several videos of fights on JCPS school buses on YouTube, showing what kids are dealing with every day.
Brianna Barker explains, "It makes me feel like crap most of the time, come home from school, deal with it most of the time on bus and later in my classes, sometimes I want to cry."
WDRB has also uncovered video of bullying on the bus with girls teaming up against one student who is sitting in his seat, yelling obscenities.
JCPS says it doesn't tally the number of bullying investigations, but says for this school year through March, there have been 110 suspensions related to bullying -- 13 in elementary schools, 78 in middle, 16 in high school, and three in special schools.
John Heck, a Gutermuth Elementary student, says, "As a new student at a new school, not expected to be bullied, they are kids who call kids appropriate words, saying they are going to kill you."
Brandon Sturgill of Dixie Elementary says it includes, "Calling people cuss words at the school saying they are going to hit you in the face outside." Those are second and third grade students.
Brianna Barker explains, "I'm different, have a different style than most people, different clothes, fat too, so doesn't really help -- people pick on me anyway they can."
Kentucky House Bill 91, known as the "Bullying Bill" was signed into law in 2008. It requires school districts to have plans, policies, and procedures to deal with the problem.
Jack Jacobs, JCPS Director of Health and Safety, explains, "There's some bullying issues that could be just kids, maybe just using the old phrase, picking each other a little bit, that can be resolved very quickly, so we're training our teachers and principals to be able to recognize the different levels of bullying."
Jacobs says it's not that more kids are being bullied, instead he says there's more awareness about the problem: "We need for parents to work with their children and teach that bullying is wrong."
"Stop Bullying Now" says studies show bullies are taught that behavior. It's a choice to act out violently, whether they're seeking revenge, have problems at home, or have low social skills.
Bullying can lead to kids not wanting to go to school, students being withdrawn from their interests and friends, and a drop in grades.
That's what happened to Cameron Sturgill until he moved to a new school where he is no longer bullied. "I'm getting straight A's almost. I think there's a whole lot of my friends there, I don't think no one will get bullied there."
The district says if your child is being bullied, there are three steps to take:
-- Report it to the principal or assistant principal at the school.
-- Set up a conference with the principal to talk about the bullying.
-- Put the claims in writing.
Jacobs was asked, "What can you say to parents who are still frustrated with what they call the process of child being bullied, what can you say to them?" He responded, "They have to stick to the process, the one thing we've found if they've put it in writing it will become more clearer to investigators."
JCPS says the schools will conduct an investigation, and a deeper investigation can be done if the principal feels it's needed. Jacobs says, "Every principal runs their school a little differently...so it may handle the discipline cases in a different manner. "
Parents say they're looking for answers to the bullying problems, but understand it takes time. One parent, Melinda Heck, says, "My kids have been picked on since kindergarten, on the bus in the schools the bus, it's tiresome."
JCPS says it has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence, including bullying. The kids Valerie Chinn spoke to say they're fed up with the bullies and hope their words will make a difference on the bus and in school.
Student John Heck, asked what he would like to say to bullies, tells us, "If they could, please stop. If they could control themselves from doing all this bad and saying all this inappropriate and cuss words and stuff, it would make them have a better life."
Brianna Barker would tell them, "Just knock it off, what are they getting out of calling each other names, hitting them? Does it make them feel better about their self or what?