BRUNSWICK, GA. --- Parents in Glynn County are concerned about bullying in schools. Some parents are so concerned that they have pulled their children from the school district as a result.
One of those students is Rosa Soto. Her living room now also serves as her classroom.
"I don't feel like she was really believed, I didn’t want to believe it and I’d just tell her to stay away from the kids, but it wasn’t something she could stay away from," mother Shelia Soto said.
Soto is now homeschooled after her mom claims she was bullied earlier this year at Jane Macon Middle School.
“People were asking for help and no one would help them, that’s the reason why I took matters into my own hands, I cut myself," Rosa Soto said. Soto continued to say she cut herself as a result of the bullying.
The 15-year-old spent a week in a treatment center near Atlanta after that incident. It was then her mother decided to home school Rosa.
“I see a lot of kids and hear about a lot of kids committing suicide because of being bullied," Shelia Rosa said.
In one case, 8-year-old Gabriel Taye of Cinncinnati killed himself after being bullied at school.
Back in Brunswick, Soto is not an isolated case.
“My daughter was already getting to a very very low point and I felt like I didn’t have much time... I was afraid she’d hurt herself if I didn’t get away from them," mother Jennifer Bonds said.
Bonds says her daughter suffered physical abuse at Needwood Middle School so she’s now attending school across the state.
“Her depression was so so bad, she would cry and beg me every single morning to not take her to school," Bonds said.
Other mothers reached out to First Coast News on social media and stated they too have experienced similar issues and believe more needs to be done to address the problem, including harsher punishment for those found being bullies.
These mothers aren’t alone.
Debbi Denis has started a non-profit, covered by Love originally to address suicide, but it will now also address bullying.
In the last three months, she says roughly 85 of 100 students have seen some form of bullying in Glynn County.
“We want to work with law enforcement, we want to work with parents, to work with law enforcement with school officials to make these things better and make them more secure about themselves," Denis said.
The parents say the schools don’t need to hire more people to address the problem, but just take this more seriously.
“Pay more attention to the kids, I mean, kids are cutting themselves, she’s 15 years old, they don’t know where to turn to if the teachers aren’t listening," one mom said.
Glynn County Schools Public Relations Director Jim Weidhaas provided the following statement to First Coast News in response to this story:
"We take all reports of bullying or conflict seriously and work with students and parents individually in each case to determine exactly what happened and the proper course of action moving forward that is in the best interests of all involved. We investigate all instances thoroughly and follow through with appropriate action that helps to ensure that our schools provide a safe learning environment. There are always at least two sides of every story and we work hard to determine the truth and to address situations of bullying or conflict firmly, fairly and consistently.
On a side note, Weidhaas added, Georgia has been proactive from the state level with its Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program to address behavior issues from a positive standpoint as opposed to a punitive one. Glynn County has been recognized by the state as a leader in implementing the PBIS initiative."
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