160,000 children stay home from school each day because they are afraid of being bullied or intimidated by other students. 83% of girls and 79% of boys say they’ve been harassed… nearly two-thirds of them won’t report it, and a great majority of students think schools respond poorly to bullying, according to the National Education Association.
Many high profile cases of cyber bullying have made national headlines, especially those that led to suicide like 12-year old Rebecca Sedwick in Lakeland, Florida. She endured years of harassment in person and over several different social media outlets by more than a dozen girls, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. Some of the messages found on ask.fm, Kik and Voxer included: “You’re ugly.” “You should die.” “Why don’t you go kill yourself?” In September, Rebecca climbed a platform at an abandoned cement plant and leaped to the ground.
Judd says charges against the teens who bullied Rebecca are pending. Florida has strong anti-bullying laws which make it easier to bring felony charges in cases of online bullying. Rebecca’s family says they tried to prevent their daughter from taking her life. They forced her to change schools, shutdown her Facebook account, changed her phone number, got her counseling and medical attention after she began cutting herself in late 2012.
Then, there's the case of Israel Price... a Georgia 7th grader…smart…loves to sing. But last month, two bullies pushed him into a brick wall at school leaving him mentally and physically disabled. Israel now spends his days in therapy, instead of school. "Raising America" contacted the district and they said, "they do not comment on disciplinary matter." So far no charges, but the two bullies responsible for Israel's injuries have been expelled.
Criminal defense attorney Darren Kavinoky says a parent’s best tool to combat bullying is to document everything… “what the bullying is, the impact, putting school/other parents on notice, whatever response (or non-response) there is, etc. The school has a duty to behave reasonably, but to hold them to appropriate standards requires they be put on notice of a problem,” he says. “Documentation is critical.”
In recognition of National Bullying Prevention Month, don’t miss “Kids Targeting Kids” – a “Raising America” special presentation. Kyra Phillips investigates why bullying is worse now than ever before and what's being done to combat it. The problem and the path to protection... what your child needs to know. Plus an emotional interview with Israel Price and his mother, Charleia, about the boy's road to recovery and a very special in-studio song. Wednesday, October 9, at 12:00 and 4:00 EST on HLN.