Local News

Local School Board Member Resigns To Call Attention To Bullying

Posted April 23, 2004

— A school board member in Orange County said she resigned because of a school bully. She said the school system did not do enough to protect her son, so she quit to send a message.

Other parents may share her concern.

Research conducted at the

Poe Center for Health Education

revealed that more than 40 percent of kids in the Wake County area have been bullied. Nearly the same percentage said they had been bullies themselves.

Bullying

is considered verbal or physical abuse. That is what Orange County School Board member Betty Tom Davidson said she resigned over.

"My decision has been an agonizing one," Davidson said Tuesday.

Davidson said she resigned in defense of her son and the bullying he experienced at school.

"He was hit in the back, punched in the stomach," she said. "He threatened to kill himself as a result of the bullying and harrassment."

Davidson said the school system failed to adequately address the issue over the last year.

"Our attempts at mediation failed," she said.

Nationwide, more information is being sought on the issue of bullying.

"I think we need more education," said Julie McQueen, of the Poe Center, which allows kids to participate in national surveys like the one on bullying.

"I think it gives us a pretty good indication of what's going on in our community," McQueen said.

Wake County numbers were similar to national statistics.

Thirty-one percent of the kids surveyed said they fought back, but 39 percent said the best resolution was to tell a teacher or parent.

"The question is: 'What can be done about it?'" author Erika Shearin Karres said.

Karres sees thousands of stories behind the statistics. The former teacher brings attention to bullying in her books, the latest of which focuses on girls.

"We can stop it," Karres said. "We now know what to do. It takes people stepping up and doing something."

Davidson hopes her sacrifice will do just that.

"Does it need to be taken more seriously?" she asked. "Absolutely."

The chairman of the Orange County School Board, Keith Cook, said the board did all it could in the case of Davidson's son. By the time the case reached the board, Davidson already had taken her son out of Stanford Middle School.

Cook said attitudes at Stanford have changed as a result of this incident, and a counselor was sent away for additional training.

Cook also said a systemwide "bullying policy" is being finalized, so teachers and students will know what is expected of them.

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