Warning: The following film contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
Are Children Really Safe at School?
I never understood how much bullying and violence actually happens at school. My son has come to me before and told me other kids will bully him or say mean things to him, but I didn't truly understand how bad it was. After parents watched the video of my son being assaulted and strangled, they messaged me to tell me horror stories of their own children suffering at school and how the school has done nothing to stop it. Children are afraid to come forward, they suffer in silence, and even commit suicide because they feel like there is no other way to escape the pain and suffering they endure at school. The children who are brave enough to come forward are not being taken seriously enough by the school. The victims continue to suffer because the consequences for breaking rules aren't severe enough to deter perpetrators from breaking them.
The school's reaction to my son being assaulted and strangled is a perfect example of how careless the school is towards acts of violence. To make changes and keep our kids safe, parents need to be aware of what is happening inside the schools and demand that proper action be taken so our children can learn in a safe environment. In case you don't know how lenient the schools are in punishment and the lack of safety measures, let me share with you the school's response to the evidence of my son being assaulted and strangled.
On January 23, 2023, my son was assaulted and strangled on the school bus by another student. I learned about the altercation when my son came home crying with red marks on his neck. The girl who harmed my son this day was also the same one who stole a toy from him months prior to which the school said they would “take care of it." I was sent this video from another student which made me realize how severe and traumatic this event was for my son and also learned that the video was actually the SECOND time she attacked and strangled him. I immediately went to the school to show them the video of the assault and pictures of my son's neck. Upon seeing this I was sure that the school would take proper action and keep not only my son safe but the other children on the bus and school safe too by expelling her. Surely, a child seen committing a heinous crime would get expelled from school.
This wasn't two kids fighting. This was one child continuing to attack and strangle another student. Not once did my son retaliate against her and he suffered emotional and physical trauma for it. The school was able to pull bus camera footage to show that she did indeed go back to my son's seat twice. The school said they couldn't tell me what action would be taken against the girl but that they would take care of it. I went to the courthouse and got a 2 week protection order for my son which noted that she was to remain a minimum of 50 feet away which I gave to the school. I found out from my son that she had come back to school after being merely suspended for a criminal act such as strangulation. How is that fair? How are you going to protect my son when you put her in the same environment as him? What example are you setting for other children who know and saw what happened and also see her return to school?
The school told me that they would make sure they don't have the same classes together, but my son told me that he passes by her in the hall and that she chose to sit behind him at lunch, knowing the protection order was in place. Not only did the girl not take this protection order seriously, but the school didn't either. When I confronted the school and told them to look at the camera footage they confirmed that she continued to disobey the protection order and that they acknowledged that they "didn't know she was sitting behind him at lunch." Of course they wouldn't know! They can't follow around every student that harms and bullies another student. So what are the schools doing to keep our children safe, because the "preventative" measures they put in place aren't cutting it.
From what I have been told, she is known for bullying but mostly bullies my son. He is an easy target as he is one of the shortest and skinniest children in his grade which was true for me growing up as well. The two friends my son had on the bus were afraid to come forward because they themselves were constantly being bullied at school and were afraid of retaliation. No other parents were notified that a strangulation attack had occurred on the bus or that the student who committed this violent act would continue sitting next to their child(ren). How does that make you feel to know that the school doesn't take the violence and crime that occurs seriously enough to protect our kids even when confronted with evidence?
When I got my son a two year protection order, the Judge who saw this video and pictures asked if the girl still attended the school to which I replied “yes.” The Judge was confused and asked if the school knows about this event and if they understand the severity and gravity of what happened. I asked the school why they thought suspension was enough for strangulation to which they replied, "We have protocols we have to follow and execute punishment according to the School's Code of Conduct.” If suspending a child for strangulation (which is a lethal form of violence) is following the school's protocols, then the protocols need to change. This child committed a felony under adult standards and suspension was the "correct form of discipline"? Something needs to change. This isn't just my child's life on the line, but every child that has been harmed and humiliated where the school did nothing. School's need to be held accountable for inadequately protecting
our children. They can't create a safe environment for our kids if they sweep these violent acts under the rug, hoping no one hears about them.
Do you know how many parents have come to me telling me their child were bullied, harassed, sexually assaulted, abused, and harmed at school and how they repeatedly go to the school asking them to do something and the school does nothing? These parents ask me what they need to do to get the schools to take action- and I have to say, "I don't know. The school has video of a crime and a protection order and they still only believed that suspension was enough to keep my child safe."
Not only do schools need to give harsher punishments to children who bully, threaten, and assault others, but they also need more preventative measures, like classes on coping skills, overcoming peer pressure, and thinking positively; classes that reinforce how precious and priceless each student is. School is hard enough without having to feel like your life is in danger too. Could we not set a little bit of time aside on a weekly or even monthly basis to help our children overcome the stressors of life? Our children don't truly understand the impact they make and the power of their thoughts but we can teach them. Setting time aside to teach these values can prevent reckless damage to people's lives. This event didn't only affect my son, but our entire family. And it didn't just affect him then, it will continue to affect him throughout his life. Trauma doesn't just go away because we ask it to.
School's won't admit to the amount of violence and bullying that happens at the school. Parents will pull their children out of school or never put their children in school if they believe the schools aren't keeping their children safe. We must hold schools accountable and I hope that shining a light on this instance, fortunately caught on camera, and on the school's reaction to it, will get parents to speak up and stand together to show the world that things need to change. I am heartbroken for all children who endure such traumas. I can't imagine how many instances go un-recorded. If the school is so permissive about this severity of a crime and the evidence of its occurrence, then I have little hope for the uncounted children who roam the halls begging for help. These children are our future. Their lives matter.
If your child has suffered at school, and the school has done nothing, please comment below. I believe if we stand together and show what is truly happening, that positive changes can be made. Everything we do or don't do makes a difference. I have had firsthand experience with flawed the system is and together we can protect our children by shedding light on this. Parents please share this everywhere until schools have no choice but to make necessary changes.
This photo was taken right after the assault
This photo was taken the day AFTER the assault
On Feb 16, 2023, my son received this email from another student to which I replied back and notified the school right away. This is a PERFECT EXAMPLE of why changes MUST BE MADE! Children feel like the school does not take bullying and violence seriously so they take matters into their own hands. Their voices are not being heard so they turn to violence to get their point across. I received a message from a parent who said "my son told me he knows that girl and she has been threatening your son's friends." Not only did the school show other children that violence is tolerated by putting her back into the school environment after everyone knows what she did; they put other children in danger by keeping her at that school and also her in danger for any child who felt like justice wasn't served and wants to take it upon themselves. If you watch my son's attack, every child was in the wrong. Children just laughed and videoed the attack. Every child could benefit from having some classes at school that teach how to manage anger, coping skills, overcoming depression, realizing every child is of worth, sticking up for others, and how you can positively benefit those around you. We must put preventative measures in place and also harsher punishments so children know there is NO tolerance for that kind of behavior. Have the punishment fit the crime. If a child lays their hands on someone, they don’t get a second and third chance before they are kicked out. One and done. Set an example to all other kids that it is not tolerated even in the least. Please spread this article so the right people can see it and realize that we, as parents and citizens, demand change in the schools. That changes MUST be made in order for this behavior to stop.