Video prompts Cumberland bullying investigation
Posted January 11
Fayetteville, N.C. — A viral online video has prompted the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office to investigate an alleged case of bullying.
The video was shot Tuesday afternoon near Douglas Byrd Middle School as a group of students walked home.
Eleven-year-old Alexander Skarzynski said he started recording with his cellphone to show how his 12-year-old brother, Christopher Skarzynski, was being taunted by a seventh-grade girl. The boys' mother, Alice Phillips, later posted the video on Facebook.
"My heart was breaking," Phillips said Wednesday. "I couldn't even focus at work when I saw that."
Christopher is seen in the video holding a stick, which he says is for protection. The brothers said the girl had punched Christopher in the face before the Alexander started recording the encounter.
The unidentified girl uses slurs and profanity while shouting at Christopher. At one point, she tackles him.
Phillips said Christopher has been bullied since the beginning of the school year, and she hasn't been able to get it to stop.
"Just verbal abuse, a lot of it," she said. "(There were) two incidents of physical abuse. There was another boy that was throwing rocks at him."
Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Frank Till said the school district has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying.
"It's not tolerated, and when we see videos – that was the first I saw that video – I'll follow up and see what was behind it," Till said.
Till said he couldn't discuss Christopher's case specifically, but WRAL News has learned that Douglas Byrd Middle administrators took disciplinary action against the girl in the video on Wednesday.
The district's policy on bullying doesn't mean immediate expulsion, Till said. Each school has resource officers, and the district has two schools set up to handle students with disciplinary problems.
"You can overreact," he said. "(Let's) see what was the cause, to see what we can do and help and also give your young people coping skills, because a lot of times, what we see with bullying is that they don't have coping skills."
Even though the girl has been disciplined, Phillips said she will pull Christopher out of Douglas Byrd Middle and transfer him to a different school.