Bring awareness to consequences of bullying in small high schools
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Bullying is an epidemic. We have all experienced it. Many innocent children have had their lives ripped apart because of bullying. Please share this story and help fight against bullying.
In the very small town of Hackleburg, Alabama bullying happens regularly without much attention being brought its way. With a population of roughly 1,500 people Hackleburg, Alabama prides itself on being a friendly neighborhood. However, if you are among the lower income, overweight, any race other than caucasian, or your parents aren’t important members of the town, then you might view Hackleburg, Alabama as something far from friendly.
Due to legalities of the ongoing case for those involved, no names will be mentioned in this article.
In August of 2016 a young girl was beginning her sophomore year at Hackleburg High School. She was very excited for a new start as she had made the cheerleading squad and was getting to sit at the “cool kids” lunch table. Most of the kids were wearing new Hackleburg athletics t-shirts that they had just received, and the girl noticed she had a grease stain. She stated to the group, “I already have a stain on my shirt,” to which the bully responded, “Maybe if you would get your fat ass off of the couch and go run a few miles instead of sitting on the couch eating chips, you might not have grease stains on your shirt.”
This was not the first, or the last time that he would tease her about her weight. That day when she arrived home from school she was in tears and her Mom and Uncle questioned her until she confessed, “I thought things would be different this year, but he is just not going to let me enjoy going to school”. The uncle talked to his son about the issue, “she is your cousin, you have to take up for her at school. They’ll listen to you if you stick up for her”.
Each child expressed that they are forced to accept the bullying because no matter what they do, “It won’t matter”.
Unfortunately, reality set in when the girl's mother tried to reach out to adults in hopes that the situation could be resolved.
“There were multiple bullies that said hurtful things to my daughter. She expressed to me one night in tears that she didn’t want to live anymore”. A teenager who just began her school year with excitement and a reason to feel great about herself, now having suicidal thoughts.
The mother decided to reach out to the school counselor and principal. The counselor said she would try talking with the bully, but nothing seemed to change. The principal said, “it might be better for you to put your daughter in another school, she might do better somewhere else”.
While the statement above might seem sickening to hear from a High School principal, it is actually more common than you might expect at this small town school.
The mother called the superintendent to discuss the issue and was told he is “too busy with meetings at the moment, but he would call the principal to try and resolve the situation.”
The situation did not improve for her daughter, so she removed her from school and home schooled her child the remainder of the school year. She has been prescribed depression medication, but is planning to attend a new high school this fall and is hopeful that things will be much better.
The bully received no form of punishment, and continued to verbally attack other classmates. The cousin that was previously mentioned, now receives the brunt of the bullies antics. Threatening snapchats, constant teasing, and manipulation. The cousin expressed to him that if he was not left alone he would retaliate.
Both young men arrived at a local hangout spot known as military bridge. Upon arrival, the cousin stated that it would be best that the two keep their distance and have a good time among friends.
The bully began antagonizing the young man, and this time, he stood his ground. This resulted in the bully getting a black eye.
They shook hands and the bully left.
However, standing up to a bully who has a prominent name in a small town has its consequences. The bullies parents decided to press charges, and the cousin received 48 hours in a detention center and 5 days in a boys home. He has since been released with an ankle bracelet to monitor him. His next hearing will be at the end of this month.
The young man will be punished and the bully will be taught that it is ok to treat people poorly because no matter what, he will get away with it. Whether it be teachers, principals, his parents, or in this case the law, he will always get away with harmful actions.
This story is just one of many from this area. In the weeks that have past since this was first written, many other stories have surfaced of bullying in the schools that are near this area. Those who have been interviewed have expressed the torment that they have personally dealt with and how they are afraid to share their stories due to the lack of help from teachers and coaches at their schools. They can’t fight for themselves, but we as adults can help.
Educate your children about bullying, reach out to teachers, principals, and superintendents. Express your concerns and the importance of having trained counselors to not only help victims, but to also help bullies.
While fighting is not condoned, the child who stood up to the bully is facing charges because we as adults fail to educate our children about bullying and its consequences.
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