Two beatings at middle school highlight bullying problems - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Two beatings at middle school highlight bullying problems

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RUSHVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Rush County in Central Indiana is a small, normally quiet community -- a place where families move from big cities to find better schools.  But what happened inside Benjamin Rush Middle School is bringing attention to the bullying problem.

A camera inside Benjamin Rush Middle School captured video of a brutal bullying attack, as 13-year-old Austin McDaniel took blow after blow from a 15-year-old. Austin's mother, Nicole, explains, "You can see he repeatedly punches him, he's kneeling on his side, he gets up, he kicks him, he knows there are no teachers around and proceeds to take him to the ground and punch him repeatedly again."

The eighth grader says his eyes were closed and he doesn't remember what happened because he was beaten unconscious. Five of his teeth were knocked loose and he was left with a bruised and bloody lip.

WDRB's Valerie Chinn asked Nicole McDaniel, "How many times have you watched this video?"

"I would say probably about six or seven times, but honestly, I see it in my head all the time," McDaniel replied. "I've watched it about 50 times, it just plays over and over."

Austin says many of his friends did nothing, just watched punch after punch: "I was just walking to my locker and he just came up behind me and beat me up."

Eleven days later, Austin's best friend, Logan Thompson, was beaten by another student. He thinks it was retaliation: "How could somebody do this knowing it, like, causes people damage, you know?" He's still visibly upset about what happened after his busted mouth, concussion, bruising on his brain, and loose teeth. 

"I always had to watch who is beside me, and behind me I don't ever feel safe, ever," Logan says.

Logan's mother, Misty, explains, "He was knocked completely unconscious. The boy came at a dead run, jumped into the air, drew back and hit him with everything he had -- knocked him off his feet and his head hit the floor."

Logan says he was bullied three weeks before, but didn't think much of it and didn't tell his parents. He didn't realize the warning signs: "He would always touch me, wouldn't leave me alone, shut off my computer, he would even get up and pass gas in my face."

Now the two best friends are trying to bring light to the bullying problem with new billboards in the community. Frustrated with how the Rush County School District is handling both cases, the family has hired an attorney and is filing lawsuits. They're also finding other parents who are just as frustrated and want a tougher bullying law in Indiana.

"I've got cases right now where children have been given post traumatic stress disorder due to things that have happened to them in the classroom," says Attorney Ron Frazier.

Logan says another student put a "hit" on him for $300 to beat him up again. Parents want to know why teachers weren't manning the locker areas and why an ambulance was never called in either incident.

The two boys involved have been removed from the school, but the district will not say for how long. The superintendent issued this statement: "Rush County Schools provide a safe environment for our students and staff. We have had two isolated incidents which have been dealt with to the fullest extent of our policies and law."

Anytime Austin and Logan go outside their homes, they live in fear. Austin says, "I just know if I keep looking over my shoulder, I can see what's coming."

And Logan says although he still likes to "hang out with people and stuff, it isn't the same."  When asked what it would take to get everything back to normal, he replies, "For them to not come back at all?"

The families are just hoping to raise awareness of bullying so what happened at Benjamin Rush Middle School doesn't happen to your child.

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