My 13-year-old son is the victim of bullying both by students of Owosso Public Schools (Middle School) and by the principals and teachers who stand by and allow the bullying to continue. He has developed extreme anxiety and frequently experiences mood swings due to the pressure, humiliation, and trauma he is forced to endure day after day. He is pushed, punched, kicked, tripped, cussed at, degraded, and screamed at by staff if he reacts in the least (and he does react, as most anyone adult or child would.) Again, this happens every single day he is at school.
A few months ago, Cherokee, my son, was heading from one class to another when another child pushed him down a flight of stairs. I went to the school about this. I asked them to do something to stop the bullying. They said that they watched the video tapes but Cherokee was out of the line of sight so they couldn’t tell who had pushed him. Cherokee told them who pushed him down the stairs. I followed up 3 days later to see what they had decided. The Vice principal Mr. King said that he talked to the other boys who Cherokee had named as his attackers. The boys denied having assaulted Cherokee, so Mr. King dropped the issue. The boys were neither reprimanded or suspended for their attack.
As time has gone forward, these types of attack happen habitually. Cherokee is often sick at school or calls to come home. Teachers such as Mrs. Anderson, his math teacher, allow Cherokee to be bullied even during class. When Cherokee asked for help, she scolded him and told him to get back to his seat.
Today, 3/20/2013, Cherokee was shoved in the Gym class from behind. He turned around and grabbed a child behind him. As the ingrained response was triggered, he put his left hand on the child right shoulder and his right hand on his chest. He neither pushed nor harmed the child. Unfortunately, the child Cherokee reacted to was in front of the ones who actually shoved him. For this act of self-defense, a taught, ingrained protective response due to the year of bullying, Cherokee has been suspended from school. Mrs. Dwyer, who claims to have seen the incident, reported to the principals that Cherokee had “scooped” the other child. Cherokee denied the allegation and begged to be able to tell his side of the story. Mrs. Dwyer screamed at him to get out of the classroom that she did not want to hear him. The school called me to come get him.
When I entered the office, I told them I wanted to speak to both principals and Cherokee. They said initially No I would talk to them first. I refused until Cherokee entered the room. So they sent for him. The first thing I asked Cherokee was if he was allowed to tell them what had happened. Of course, as is customary, he had not been allowed to. He was simply suspended without being able to voice his statement. With me there, he told what happened. He admitted that he reacted to the first person he saw. I told the Principals, Mr. King and Mr. Collins that he would most probably not have reacted the way he did had they stopped the bullying at any point during the school year.
Mr. Collins said, “We get reports about problems with Cherokee weekly.” I said, ” I get reports of bullying DAILY.”
How can a school and its staff, when bullying is against the law, continue to allow it based on their personal preference for one child over another? If a child is ADHD, Autistic, overweight, or in any other way, “different” at Owosso Public Schools, they are the targets both the students and the staff. The early teen years are difficult for all children but for those labeled different or troubled… It is hell on earth.
My name is Shelly Baxter. My son’s name is Cherokee Shrum. At 12 years old, he became the target of continual torment at the hands of students and staff of Owosso Public Schools. A year later, it continues.