Jessica McClain takes a deeper dive in a special report on bullying and how victims and school officials are pulling together to combat the problem
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Bullying and various levels of physical assault are becoming a serious problem in schools nationwide, affecting thousands of our youth.
Some parents share immense frustration for what they say is a lack of administrative leadership addressing and resolving these types of situations.
One local father, George Espinoza shared that his son was harrassed and hit on the head several times on a school bus this year and informed school officials of the situation immediately.
"The video shows the graphic images of my son getting bullied by a persona twice his size and it was very frustrating I was very mad and it was horrible," said Espinoza.
"They were hitting me and saying bad words to me," said Mark Espinoza, son of George.
According to George, his son was bullied before, but the school did not take proper action to resolve the situation that occurred on campus.
And more recently in Mexicali, a sixth-grade student died after his father says the boy was tripped and hit his head.
He says his son was the victim of a bully.
“After the hit, my son started but the teacher did nothing, his classmates told the teachers that he felt bad, that's when they sent him to the office but until 3 hours later they told me that he had been hit, the school says that it was an accident but the children are witnesses that it was not like that, my son suffered bullying like other children," stated Martin Gonzalez, father of the late sixth grader.
The boy died this month after falling into a coma.
The teacher and principal are suspended while the investigation continues.
Someone also familiar with bullying and threats is local Frank Corria.
As a child and throughout his teen years Frank says he lived through years of verbal cruelty.
He created a pathway for youth to turn their suffering into opportunities for creativity and tap into their greatest strengths.
"I created a system that has helped people especially kids, because bullying is not only during childhood it happens also to older people too," said Frank Corria, victim of bullying.
Frank says through intervention and sufficient means to rebuild our awareness, society can effectively combat bullying.
"Bullying in a society illness that we have to attack. Let me tell you that there’s no one that has suffer from bullying that doesn’t have a talent and unbelievable human being."
On-campus resources with the Yuma Union High School District (YUHSD) are widely available for students to report any form of bullying and harassment.
"We have seven campuses in the district we have administrators and various levels of support that work with students, and communicate with students regarding the impact of bullying, harassment, and intimidations," said Derek Bosch, YUHSD Assistant Superintendent.
Social media and cyberbullying are definitely some elements school districts have to deal with when there is some form of bullying or harassment taking place.
"They might ask other witnesses to come in and get a statement so that we can really get to the root of the problem."
There are additional onsite support groups available for students and parents to utilize when bullying happens.
"Many of our schools have social workers on site, and that’s a new component we’ve had in the past couple of years."
Reports of bullying on school grounds range from verbal threats and physical assault on other students to cyberbullying.
"Something new we introduced this year is called “Anonymous Alerts.” It’s an online platform. There’s an app version and a website version that basically is the exact same information," said Eric Patten, YUHSD Chief Communications Officer.
It’s important to have as many tools available to make students as comfortable as possible when they’re at school.
"If someone is getting bullied, someone who had witnessed someone else getting bullied or something else that they heard about or saw going on campus they could make that report on Anonymous Alerts."
So far there have been four incidents on various campuses that have been monitored and taken care of specifically on this app.
"The parent communication piece of it is extremely important."
The student parent involvement is key to tackling these types of issues. Many times, the family dynamic plays a heavy role in a youth's behavior at school.
We reached out to the school where George's son was beaten up, one official said the situation was handled, but according to the boy's father, no action was taken and he pulled his son out of the school.
Officials declined to make a public statement, addressing the situation.
Staying silent or coming forward, can make or break how cities and communities pull together to end bullying.
The power is in our hands, each and every one of us is capable of making a difference that matters.