HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - A Hanover family is opening up about bullying that’s impacting their 9-year-old at school, in hopes of shining a light on what many students are facing every day.
Fourth grader Carter Garrido, 9, now wears a sling - evidence of what his family calls serious attacks on him by another student in his class. Garrido said he was attacked three times this school year by the same classmate.
"Someone punched me,” Garrido said. “He kicked me twice and punched me twice. I don’t want to see him ever again.”
Garrido’s mother, Hannah Brown, said it took three attacks but school officials finally moved the other students out of Garrido’s classroom.
“I got a call two hours after the incident from the clinic letting me know he has been punched two hours ago,” Brown said. “It’s hurting him to write and we’re putting ice on it. We saw three physicians within 24 hours of this happening."
With the other student being removed and the two not allowed to be together, but that led to Garrido feeling punished by having to keep his distance from the other child.
“He had to sit out at recess because the other student was with his new class out on the playground," Brown said. “Since they’re not supposed to be together and Carter came out, he actually had to sit out at recess.”
Experts say no child should suffer in silence, and it’s up to adults to listen when they speak up.
“Our schools are in trouble. Nothing’s happening. I hear it every day," Spencer Ferguson, a licensed clinical social worker, said. “What really bothers me is you’ll hear words like ‘rite of passage’ and ‘they’ll grow out of it.'”
Ferguson believes Garrido’s story is one of many examples proving the need for school divisions in Virginia to step up their bullying prevention efforts.
“I’m not talking about three paragraphs or three lines in the student handbook that says ‘we don’t tolerate bullying,'" Ferguson said. "I want to see action. I want to see a plan. How do kids report it? How’s it investigated? Is it documented, and what’s the accountability?”
Ferguson said bullying has turned tragic in the commonwealth and cited a recent cases that resulted in childre taking their own lives.
“I know for a fact, within the last two months, there have been two for sure,” Ferguson said.
Hanover Schools says if an investigation reveals that a student’s well-being is in jeopardy, they will take appropriate steps under the law. In Garrido’s case, Hanover deputies investigated and decided not to move forward with criminal charges against the alleged bully.
"It shouldn’t be on a kid’s mind that when they walk into school there’s going to be another student waiting there that could be angry and take that out physically against them,” Brown said.
This year, Hanover school leaders launched a new anonymous reporting tool. On every school’s website, anyone can submit a tip for school officials to look into. Just look for the words “Stand Up, Speak Out - Stop Bullying Now.”
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