Fosston video sparks bullying debate

A big debate over bullying is underway in Fosston, Minnesota after a mother posted a video on Facebook of her crying daughter who had, she alleges, just been bullied by a bus driver and other students.

The resulting debate is about more than bullying. Should the mother have been filming her daughter at a time when comforting seemed the order of the day? Should a news station have been reposting the video without checking to see if the story was true? Why does a mother have to go to this extent to get satisfaction when her kids are being bullied?

Sarah Cymbaluk posted this video Wednesday night of her 7- and 8-year-old children telling their story.


“We take the things that are in the video very seriously, but there may be things on there that are not 100 percent correct,” school superintendent Mark Nohner tells Valley News Live. “I’m not trying to come off like I’m covering anything up or trying to discredit the video, but there are a few statements on there that I believe are not 100 percent accurate.

“She’s been called into the principal and made to feel like it’s her fault. She’s been told to ignore it and disregard and to basically stuff your emotions down and get on with your life,” Cymbaluk tells the station.

The family says it’s unhappy because Minnesota school bullying policy requires a student’s suspension after three reported incidents and the boys accused of bullying haven’t been suspended. But Nohner says there haven’t been three incidents.

  • Julie

    Are you sure about the suspension policy? I don’t believe there is a state mandatory suspension policy on anything, certainly not one based on only reported, rather than substantiated, incidents. Is that a district policy?

  • jon

    So much is wrong with this situation…

    Parents who think the best course of action is to go viral. School officials who ignorant (willfully or not) … etc.

    I particular like this part: “Anna’s parents said the principal suggested having Anna meet with the school counselor to talk about how to deal with bullying, but her parents found that unacceptable because they didn’t feel their daughter had done anything wrong.”
    because not doing anything wrong means you aren’t in a situation where you need some help. unless they just don’t want their child being singled out from the rest of the class… in which case having an anti-bullying day on her birthday, or busing them to school seperately isn’t going to help.

    Everyone needs to take about 5 steps back from their position, see the reality of the situation and get the child the help they need not the “justice” that adults demand… learning to ignore people shouting hateful things is part of living in a country with free speech… learning to defend yourself against physical violence (even if it means hitting back) is something that is unfortunately necessary in a world where people lash out with physical violence, even if assault is illegal.

    • theoacme

      The bullies were not punished, so requiring Anna to “…meet with the school counselor to talk about how to deal with bullying…” is basically saying that she deserved to be bullied…and is punishing her for daring to speak out about being bullied…

      …so the principal and the superintendent are both beyond reprehensible, since they are bullying Anna by blaming Anna for being bullied, AND have deliberately and maliciously failed to follow the district’s anti-bullying rules, by not recording several of the previous incidences of bullying suffered by Anna (if they had, the bullies would have been suspended).

  • Julie

    I believe students speaking out about bullying can be a powerful way for kids to learn about challenging power. Standing up publicly can not only empowered the bullying target, but enact real change. The worry I have in this video is a child who repeatedly pleads to not have to describe the incident, is being led by the questions, and hiding from the camera. Even kids can speak truth to power, but this looked like a situation where the child was being overpowered yet again.

    • Ma Barker

      I agree about your concerns for Anna, the victim and reluctant girl on the video. However, the recent Minnesota anti-bullying bill passed with only 5 votes and no Republican Senators on board. This tells us something important about how adults fail to perceive the problem of bullying in general and the effects of bullying on childern in particular. On balance, I am grateful to Sarah Cymbaluk and both her children for couragously sharing the pain and abandonment children feel when systems that are supposed to protect them ends up victimizing them.

      When is our society going to wise-up and take bullying as the serious, pernicious social disease it really is?

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    When I was a kid I’d have to “write lines” about once a month for doing something stupid to the bus driver or someone else. Writing lines was the old “I will not pull Becky’s hair on the bus” a couple hundred times. 500 was the big number, if you got 500 you really screwed up. One time I made the driver so mad he stopped the bus, grabbed me from my seat and literally dragged me to sit on the front steps by the door for until we got to school. I don’t remember what I did, but it was the full 500. I think I made fun of his divorce or something. Cut me some slack, I was 11 and didn’t know how to handle my budding smart a**ery.

  • Bus drivers can’t do anything to the other kid. Neither can the admin. You know why? Because than the admin would be bullying that kid. This is ridiculous. Going viral was not the right way to go. She is lying. I know she is. I can see it.

  • Calvin Sanders

    I won’t allow that to happen to my children. I am a father of two lovely daughters. Both go to high school. It worries me that they might encounter this activity since I don’t have the capability to be with them all the time. Me and my wife both go to work almost everyday. That is why I have this application downloaded on our phones. In case of an emergency, my children will just press the panic button. Then they will be connected to a response center that answers and gives help to you 24/7. This can be escalated to your nearest 911 station. Me, along with my wife and close friends as my children’s safety network, will be notified also through text message or a conference call . This app certainly helps me since I am slightly busy with my work. Me and my wife worry lesser now. This can lessen yours too. Just visit their site to know more about this:!/page_home

  • Curt

    The problem is clearly that the school system is cavalier about bulling. When the Superintendent complained about it going on Facebook is proof. If it “fell though the cracks” then its up to society to see it and speak out. If there was no issue or the parent was overboard then the school could have issued a stamen saying it was investigated and its was unsubstantiated….but that was not said “it was a case of it fell through the cracks” Superintendent needs to wake up and make his office more available and hold the principle accountable. The parents of the bully need to feel some pain and that’s where all the bulling debate is headed next.