Bullying has long been a problem for some students at schools, but the expectation has always been that school administrators will take appropriate action to address the issue, including disciplining the bully and protecting the bullied.
That doesn't appear to be the case for one Virginia school district, as even after a violent bullying incident was caught on camera and the victim's mother publicly raised the issue, the school has done little to actually deal with the situation, the New York Post reported.
A video clip of the incident has gone viral on social media and shows a larger-than-average girl harassing and then choking and strangling a smaller-than-average boy on a school bus while other students joked and laughed about the bully's assault and the bus driver did nothing aside from verbally warn students against changing seats.
The mother of the victim, Taylor Brock, said her son is a 12-year-old seventh grader at Walt Whitman Middle School in the Fairfax County Public Schools in Alexandria, Virginia, and she recently posted the video clip of the Jan. 23 incident to her personal blog to raise awareness about the school's inadequate response to what occurred.
She described how her son had come home crying with marks on his throat and neck from the well-known bully who had harassed and attacked him on previous occasions, how the video from another student had been sent to her and then forwarded to the school, and how she had sought to press charges and obtained a temporary protective order for her son against his female bully.
Brock had expected the bully to be expelled but learned later that she had only been suspended for a few days before returning to the school, and despite the protective order and instructions for the two students to stay away from each other, the bully was still going near her son and making threats against him and others.
She shared how other parents had reached out to her to commiserate about similar bullying incidents and also lambasted the school and district for not doing more to protect her son and other students from being victimized by this particular bully or other bullies more broadly.
"This isn't something that's going away for him," Brock told local CBS affiliate WUSA in an interview about the incident involving her son. "She gets suspended and goes back to school. It doesn't seem like a fair trade. My son is still not protected. If other children are coming forward and they don't have video, then there's no hope for them because I have video and still nothing."
The outlet noted that Virginia law requires that "essential staff" at a school be notified of a protection order, and though Virginia Department of Education guidance does not hold staff legally responsible for enforcing a protection order, it nonetheless states that student safety is a top priority and advises school officials to work with parents to "develop a safety plan."
Except, that doesn't appear to be what happened, as Brock noted in an update to her blog post that one of her son's teachers reached out to apologize to the student about what had happened and revealed that they had not been informed by the school and only learned of it through their own investigative efforts.
In a statement to WUSA, however, a spokesperson for FCPS said, "The school administration handled the situation in line with the student discipline manual (FCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities)," and added, "We are unable to share further information due to federal privacy laws."
In an interview about the incident and video and apparent lack of accountability for the bully, Brock told local ABC affiliate WJLA, "If I did what that girl did, I would be in jail right now. So, I don't do things like that because I know there's a harsher punishment, but for her, what? Suspension? Or what? 'You're going to talk to my mom?' It's not a big deal to the kids anymore."
"The example that you're setting for other students that see her come back after strangling somebody. Also, what justice is that for my son? He gets traumatized for life and she gets suspension? She should be expelled," the mother added.
According to WUSA, Brock said that her son is now seeking therapy to deal with the trauma inflicted by the bully and that she plans on moving her son to a different school.