Video prompts Cumberland bullying investigation

Posted January 11

— 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.


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  • Renee Grainger Jan 12, 2017
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    Mr. Morton and Mr. Lewis, I couldn't agree with you more. These kids need to be sent to Juvy instead of giving them useless "resources". 1st Corinthian,"Train a child in the way that they should go." #BeKindToAll

  • Renee Grainger Jan 12, 2017
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    I can't believe what I just read. The statement the superintendent said was utter nonsense. Most bullying, comes from the bully being bullied at some point in their lives. Most of the time, from their parents. I am not sympathetic to this chic bully at all and these brothers need some type of award for keeping their cool. If I saw my brother being treated that way, I would have ended up in jail. I am thrilled that he had the sense to video this, as if he had not, this chic would have kept on and on and who's to say this poor boy was the only child she was doing this too. The chance of the boy being bullied, could have someday had enough of her and killed her...then we would be subjected to hearing some poor mother on camera, fake crying with her fake hair and nails because her sweet, innocent little girl would have never hurt anyone and the mother would go on to say how wonderful this little witch was. I don't have an answer to bullying other than if you are being bullied, fight back.

  • David Lewis Jan 12, 2017
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    Dean Morron, I couldn't agree more. Some people are nothing but animals, and sometimes you've got to stoop to their level to look them in the eye and get their attention.

  • Dean Morron Jan 12, 2017
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    How do you stop a bully ..... Both brothers should have beat the B - Jesus out of her, I mean to a pulp, busted lip, black eyes, bruised ribs. I know I'll get flak for posting this, so be it ..... Being PC with a bully doesn't work, what does work is a really good jab.

  • Ken Ackerman Jan 11, 2017
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    I don't know the answer to stopping bullies. I know that often they are abused at home and take it out other others.

    I've never hit another human in my life but were I able to go back to the seventh grade my strategy for dealing with bullies would be much more violent.

  • Tyie N Tracy Gibbs Jan 11, 2017
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    He did an awesome job not fighting a female. Bullying is wrong no matter what direction it comes from. And his brother deserves something special and recognition. It takes a strong person to do what he did. Stay strong and never let anyone get you down.

  • Cindy Rose Jan 11, 2017
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    Watch closely to get a glimpse of CCS's " zero tolerance policy". My happiest day was the day my daughter graduated from a CCS!

  • Alison Bryan Jan 11, 2017
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    Did I read that right? The Superintendent said "you can overreact" and "a lot of times, what we see with bullying is that they don't have coping skills". Was that really what he said? Wow!!

  • Ryan Walniuk Jan 11, 2017
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    Wow. You'd at least think that when the camera was flipped on the girl would pipe down and run away with her tail between her legs. Guess she thought she was above consequences -- hope this teaches her a good life lesson!