Parents in Elletsville, Ind., are pulling their children out of the school system in light of what they call a "bullying problem" at Edgewood Junior High School.
A Nov. 2 incident that led to the hospitalization of a 13-year-old girl was the last straw. At least one student was suspended for the fight.
The girl was beaten until she fell unconsciousness, and was pounded repeatedly in the head until she went into seizure, mother Cindy Chavez told WISH-TV. Large chunks of hair were also pulled out of her scalp.
"[My daughter] said at one point there was a couple other girls that jumped in a started kicking the little girl," mother Heather Collins told the station. She added that her own daughter had begged to leave the school following extensive taunting by peers who would throw her books to the ground and call her fat.
Both Colilns and Chavez are removing their children from Edgewood.
While Nicole Sparks, mother of the student suspended following the incident, says her daughter was the real victim, parents who gathered at the school Wednesday acknowledged a general bullying problem. Brian Trisler told Fox 59 that his 12-year-old was dismissed when she went to the principal trying to protect a bullied peer.
"All you're trying to do is sweep it under the rug," he said.
School Board member Jimmie Durnil noted that this was the largest outcry in his 12 years on the board.
"You have to remember some of this is blown out of proportion," Durnil told Fox 59. "We have got to make sure we get the bottom of it and make sure we don't overreact. But we do have a problem. There's no doubt about that. We do have a problem."
WISH-TV reports the school has investigated six bullying reports in the last year, resulting in warnings and at least one suspension. School officials add that parents are often under-exposed to the actions taken by the administration because of confidentiality laws preventing disclosure.
Peer bullying has become an increasingly hot issue in schools across the country, as social media allow for the dissemination of photos, videos and stories about children.
San Diego teen Katie Uffens dropped out of Westview High School earlier this year to enroll in a home-school charter program after repeated harassment and her peers' formation of a group called the "Kill Katie Klub," otherwise known to her classmates as the "KKK."
But the taunting continued even after Uffens dropped out, as the alleged bullies proceeded to harass her online. Uffens collected evidence over time, leading to the September arrests of two teenagers in connection with the allegations.
A positive response to a widely shared bullying story came for New York school bus monitor Karen Klein, after a YouTube video of Klein being viciously bullied by students during a ride home went viral. In the video, a group of seventh-grade boys relentlessly taunt Klein with profanity, threats and insults as the bus monitor attempts to ignore their heckling.
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