Mother pulls bullied son out of school
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - While thousands of the island's school kids are rounding out the school year with exams and field trips preparing for the upcoming summer break, one student isn't participating in any of those events. The student's mother withdrew him from the school after he'd been victimized nearly a dozen times this school year.
Since he started Jose Rios Middle School back in August, Cindy Hanson's 11-year-old son Ezekiel has been a victim of bullying nearly a dozen times. "It's really hard as a parent to keep watching your son get picked on like this and know there's nothing I can do. It makes me feel like I'm not protecting my child," she said.
Hanson says the 6th grade assistant principal has been responsive and helpful when the incidents happen, but in the last few weeks the situation escalated when another student pushed another into her son who had enough of being bullied and fought back. It resulted in her son's suspension. "It's his first time to be in trouble like this," she added.
"If you look at his history, you'll see it's been month after month of incidences to me it seems perfectly understandable that he's gonna snap eventually and respond."
The suspension was eventually overturned and the very next day, she was called back to the school again. "In this last incident my son got punched in the neck and he couldn't breath and while he was down on the ground trying to catch his breath another student slammed him over the head with a textbook. Now that is just outrageous to me!" she proclaimed.
Hanson says this was the third time her son had been assaulted inside this particular classroom while the teacher was in the room. "They're filing complaints with the police department, so cases are being put together with the juvenile courts against these kids but it just doesn't seem to have any effect," she told KUAM News.
"I've had enough, so I pulled him out. It's a shame because the school I pulled him out of is supposed to be one of the better schools, right Jose Rios?"
6th Grade Assistant Principal Stacey Sahagon says what happened with Hanson's son is an unfortunate situation, but she insists that instances of bullying at the Piti school are not high. Sahagon says in assault cases, the police department is called and disciplinary action is taken against the suspects. Jose Rios also has assemblies each month to discuss the issue of bullying and teach student the consequences of their actions encouraging them to make better choices when dealing with their peers.
"For me and my son, it's just too little too late," Hanson added. "And I can't in good conscious keep sending him somewhere like that...if I have to get a third job or a fourth job or a fifth job, I'm putting my boy in private school. I know the private schools are also experiencing bullying issues, but it doesn't seem to be to the extent that it's happening in the public schools."
Hanson is hoping Department of Education officials take a closer look at the bullying situation and develop a Scared Straight initiative or some other program, as she believes the current system isn't working.