A community is using social media to rally around a 13-year-old bullying victim in Gallatin.
Mike and Kim Woods told Nashville's News 2 they have made the decision to keep their son, Bryson, home from school since he was slapped in the back of his neck, and had his pencils and money stolen at Joseph E. Shafer Middle School.
“We can't send him to school and feel like he is safe,” explained Kim Woods, adding, “School should be a happy place, not a fearful place.”
The Woods told Nashville's News 2 they have tried to address the bullying issue with the school's principal and school district.
“The principal told us, with Bryson in the room, that he had just best get used to bullying because it even happens in the work force so we need to get used to it,” Woods said.
Woods also said the principal's solution was to place Bryson in a special education classroom.
Since Bryson's story aired on Nashville's News 2 on Friday, the Woods said the community immediately began rallying behind their son by making “Team Bryson” t-shirts and posting them on Bryson's Facebook page.
“It has just been unreal, unreal in a good way,” said Kim. “We've went from sad tears to happy tears.”
Bryson added, “It is awesome and it is unbelievable that all those people are supporting me.”
Kim also said she has received dozens of emails, text messages and voicemails from people sharing similar stories about bullying in Sumner County schools.
The Woods' family has hired an attorney and said they will now stand and fight to make the difference for their son and other bullying victims.
“If we do not protect our children no one else will,” Kim said.
The family added, according to the Sumner County student handbook it states the district has a zero tolerance policy against bullying; however the Woods say that policy is not being enforced.
Monday night school officials released a statement regarding the incident which read, in part, “Shafer Middle School administrators have conducted a thorough investigation into the incident and are working with the Woods family to address any issues.”
The statement went on to say the school system does not discuss in detail reports of bullying or disclose student disciplinary actions and that they take bullying very seriously.
- Feb. 8, 2013: Parents of bullied Gallatin student plan to sue school