For reasons that aren’t entirely clear — other than our short attention span on these sorts of things — we don’t hear as much about school bullying as we did a few years ago, and it’s not because kids have changed.
The Park Rapids Enterprise proves that with its story today about a seventh-grader who was bullied right to near suicide in Nevis, Minn.
“I just wanted to end everything because the bullying got so bad,” Hailey Becker tells the paper about the time she tied a string around her neck and tried to choke herself to death on the school bus.
“The other kids were trying to talk me out of it. Then my brother (age 11) came back to convince me not to do it,” she said.
It happened two days before Thanksgiving and the school didn’t contact the family for two days after the incident was filed. The bus driver had classified it only as harassment.
“When an event takes place you have three days to conduct an investigation so they went through that, determined that there was not necessarily bullying but there was harassment by the other individuals,” superintendent Gregg Parks said. “Bullying is something that’s repeated over time, it’s not something that happens once.”
The girl’s mother isn’t buying it.
“I have gone into the school every year since Hailey started in kindergarten to talk to the principal and others about her being bullied,” Kara Becker said. “She’s been dealing with it nonstop.”
A zero-tolerance policy? Hardly, she says.
“It may get better for a week or two and then it’s back to the same old thing,” she said. “I feel like Nevis School is really great at sweeping it under the rug.”
Meanwhile, over in Park Rapids, Jason and Hanna Markert have had enough. They’ve pulled their three daughters of school and are schooling them at home, the Enterprise says.
“A faculty member assaulted one of my children, leaving marks on her,” said Hannah. “A faculty member called my child a liar and a hazard to other children. A faculty member offered to find her another school so (he or she) does not have to deal with myself, my husband or my child anymore.”
Things got tougher in high school, [daughter Kinsey] said. On the last day of her freshman year, another student threatened on Snapchat to beat her up if she didn’t quit talking to a certain friend, and warned, “if you’re lucky, you’ll live.”
The family got a harassment restraining order (HRO) against the other girl — but “the school did absolutely nothing to keep the two separated,” Hanna said.
Meanwhile, Kinsey’s grades plunged. Previously an A and B student, she started failing classes.
Hanna said school administrators were not open to helping Kinsey make up the credits.
“We ended up pulling her so she could graduate,” said Hanna. They signed up their daughter for Minnesota Connections Academy, an online homeschooling curriculum based in St. Paul.
One daughter, a fourth grader, held out but finally gave up on school when another student threatened to kill the family dog and burn their house down.
Other students say they saw an attack on one of the daughters, but the school staff concluded she was lying about the incident, the Enterprise said.