“Just Walk Away”

Bullying locker 2

My 17 year-old granddaughter is the victim of facebook bullying at her high school. What happened to her is probably a textbook case how this serious issue of bullying occurs in our schools every day and escalates if not stopped. My granddaughter is mixed race: African American, Native American and Caucasian. She attends a school where there are only a couple handfuls of students-of-color.

For the purpose of this post the names of the students and the high school will remain anonymous. I’ll refer to them as G for my granddaughter; Bully-Girl for the facebook writer; and Fat Girl for a student probably recruited by Bully-Girl. Dr. AP is the assistant principal at this un-named high school located in a county just north across the line from Bucks County. My daughter is M.

For the past several weeks my granddaughter G received harassing messages on her facebook page sent by Bully-Girl…dumb stuff that started after G happened to talk to Bully-Girl’s boyfriend. G, being a strong young girl chose not to let this nonsense pass by without a response. Throughout this episode I’m proud of G for keeping her cool. Soon messages were flying back and forth, hateful and nasty messages. When Bully-Girl referred to G as a “… fucking monkey cunt”, G told her mother (my daughter M). G was miserable and angry. She said that Bully-Girl was now hurling verbal taunts when they passed each other in the halls. When G described this harassment I too was angry but calmly cautioned G—“I know it’s hard, but when she gets in your face, just walk away. Just Walk Away.”

Last Friday a meeting was held between G’s parents and the principal. Dr. AP was able to view all the messages because G had saved them. M insisted that a meeting be arranged where Bully Girl’s parents will be sitting in the same room with G’s parents. The only commitment made by Dr. AP was to assure G’s parents that the school would monitor the behavior of the students involved in this bullying episode

The assistant principal also said he would speak to Bully-Girl and contact her parents. A future meeting will be arranged with the parents of Bully-Girl, G and the boy who initially became the catalyst of this problem. M insisted that if this incident got out of hand, she wanted the police to be contacted. Dr. AP promised that if there was an escalation of behavior, he would contact the police.

The next school day my granddaughter calls her mother from girls’ bathroom. Crying, she describes how more verbal taunts came from Bully-Girl. Apparently the assistant principal must have talked to Bully-Girl because as G walks down the hall, Bully-Girl follows behind her, calling her a “snitch”. G still holds her cool and turns around. She says to Bully-Girl, “Can’t you say that to my face?” G turns away from Bully-Girl and continues walking down the hall. Then a heavy set girl (Fat Girl) walks behind G and says,  “You cunt, if you want to call me ‘fat’ say it to my face.” When G turns around she sees Bully-Girl standing next to Fat Girl.

G says, “Excuse me? I never said that about you and if your friend has a problem with me she can talk to me.”

Fat Girl says “This has nothing to do with Bully Girl– this is about you and me.”

As G walks away she says, “I’m not dealing with this.” Fat Girl catches up to G and trailing right behind G, pushes her into a row of lockers. A crowd of students gathers. G throws her books on the floor, ready to lunge at Fat Girl. Fortunately a male friend of G grabs her, picking her up and away from a disaster saying, “No, calm down”. Another student keeps Fat Girl from an altercation that could’ve been disastrous.

There was no call to M from the school about this. M is pissed, calls the school and asks to speak to the principal. She describes to the staff member on the phone the violent incident that happened to G and asks, “Why wasn’t I called?” The staff member replies that Dr. AP is in a meeting and “will call you back.” An hour later, no response to my daughter so I call with the same concern and am directed to Dr. AP’s voicemail. Two days later and no call back.

Is this the standard procedure for bully incidents in schools? No child should attend ANY school and be expected to learn in a toxic environment only to say, “I don’t want to go to this school anymore.”  We learn from G that Fat Girl is on ‘in-house suspension’. Bully-Girl is still walking the halls. Both of those decisions by the school are worrisome to me.

I’ve sent an email to the Dr. AP asking for answers: What does it mean on their website to offer services of Mediation? Being familiar with restorative justice programs, I am disappointed as to not find a narrative attached to this Mediation program. And, Why does the School District’s website have a link called ‘Diversity’ and when I open it, find a list of national organizations associated with civil rights? A list that a worried parent or guardian must maneuver through to find help with their problem? One organization missing on the District’s Diversity’ list and that I recommended to Dr. AP was the Teaching Tolerance program under the Southern Poverty Law Center. I cannot understand why more schools are not using this excellent program to educate their students about racism or bullying.

I don’t expect a reply to my email from Dr. AP in a timely fashion. But hold hope he’ll respond. Soon.