Lee Co. parents raise bullying concerns
LEESBURG, Ga. (WALB) -Last week, a Lee County mom spoke out about a bullying incident she said has left her daughter traumatized and now she’s heard from other parents with more bullying allegations that have occurred throughout the school system.
“How can our school system tell us they have zero tolerance for bullying, but I’ve had so many moms and dads reach out to me telling me similar stories,” Darcy Gashwiler said.
Her story received more than 60 comments on WALB’s Facebook page with a range of allegations and concerns.
Lieutenant Jason Anthony said he hasn’t had to deal with bullying cases that frequently this year.
“Most of the issues that we’ve dealt with has came from the elementary school level. We have had some in the middle school level. We have had some at the high school level, but we haven’t dealt with many this year alone,” he said.
Anthony said many of the parents’ frustrations with the school system come from protocols that the school is supposed to follow.
“And unfortunately with some children, they are very under the age to be prosecuted criminally but what we can do and what we will do and we do is that we do a referral to get those kids some evaluations, to get the family some family assessments to figure out why this child is this way,” he said.
Anthony added that more frustration comes from the parents because of school communication but he said the school can only say so much.
“The school system can not discuss discipline of another child with that parent. They can discuss discipline with your child to you but not to other parents,” he said.
Anthony said bullying is an issue everywhere, especially on social media and Lee County School System is doing its best to handle each situation.
“I don’t think that Lee County has a big issue like people portray us to be,” he said. “We just need for parents to come forward. If your child is being bullied or harassed in school, just come forward. Talk to us, let us know what’s going on and let us work on it so we can get this thing resolved.”
Dealing with bullying can make parents and children angry, sad and a slew of other strong and difficult emotions.
It can also be hard to know what to do to make things better for your hurting son or daughter, which is was Gashwiler expressed last week.
“I’ve had to sleep with her every single night since this happened because she’s scared to go to sleep,” she said.
Unlike a broken bone or scratch, wounds from bullying can be internal and something a lot of people deal with.
Jamie Flynn Pressley is a licensed child psychologist in Leesburg who has been working with kids for 19 years. She said the first step to dealing with bullying is documentation.
“And remind the child that they’re safe. Your home with me, you’re safe, nobody can hurt you. So, we need the child anxiety level to be a priority,” she said.
But what about when your child goes back to school? Pressley said consulting with school counselors and teachers can help reestablish a safe environment for your child.
“That way the child and the school counselor can develop an awesome plan to help keep them safe and to help make them feel like they’re safe,” she said.
It’s important to seek a professional mental health advisor according to Pressley.
“A lot of times the kids will learn negative ways to cope with bullying and they’ll learn unhealthy ways to cope with bullying and as a professional, we always like to teach healthy ways to cope with bullying,” she said.
For those parents still looking for answers for their child, Pressley had this message.
“Don’t give up and don’t give up hope. I’m proud of parents for speaking up. I’m very proud of you,” Pressley said.
Anyone experiencing bullying can visit www.stopbullying.gov/ for more tips and resources to stop and prevent bullying.
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