Local News

School System Goes On The Offensive Against Bullying

Posted April 28, 2006

— It is rare that someone fires a gun on a high school campus. But what is not rare, according to students, is bullying.

"It's just really hard, it makes school worse, because you don't want to go into school and be picked on," said one local student.

WRAL is keeping the identity of the high school student confidential because she is afraid of retaliation. She said her boyfriend was bullied at her Wake County school and had to leave as a result.

"It ruined his life, because now he has to be careful where he goes cause they might be there and he also has to make sure he's not alone," she said. "If he drives home, he has to make sure he's in the area where they won't be there."

"We can never do enough to keep our kids safe from bullying," said Stephanie Wiilis, health coordinator for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School System.

The school system is a leader in the state on this issue, adopting an anti-bullying policy in 2003. They also have social education classes teaching mutual respect at almost every grade level. A major goal of the policy is to ensure that all students feel like they have someone they can talk to.

"It's a journey," said student services coordinator Jeff Reilly. "We're still working on things to shore it up to make sure every student has a contact in that school that they can go to."

At this point, no one knows for sure why 17-year-old William Foster felt like he had no one he could go to; and instead, according to police, took hostages and fired a shotgun at East Chapel Hill High School on Monday. If bullying is the root of his desperation, school administrators say it is a message we can all learn from.

"We hope that people will take bullying more seriously and recognize that bullying often leads to discrimination, harassment and violence," said Willis.

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