Ashland Schoolhouse Bullying Charged and Denied

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ASHLAND - Two Ashland, Missouri school girls have complained to KOMU 8 News about bullying at Southern Boone Middle School. One of the complaining girls, Molly Crane, said her 13 year-old sister was brutally beaten on several occasions by other school kids, and the administration has yet to do anything about it.

"My sister has gotten to the point where she is scared to tell somebody each time something happens. She is scared to go to school every morning knowing that she has to sit in front of the hallway in front of her first class. She won't go to the gym before school because the girls that will beat her up are there," Crane said.

Not so fast, counters the principal of Southern Boone Middle School, Bob Simpson.

"When there are incidents like those that you speak of, when they are brought to our attention, we investigate them and we use the discipline code to address them. We also try and counsel the students and try to teach kids the impact of their actions and what bullying can do to impact other peoples lives," Simpson said.

Crane and friends said they have contacted Superintendent Charlotte Miller of the Southern Boone School District and no action has been taken on Miller's behalf. KOMU contacted Miller as well but was then referred to Principal Simpson.

"I don't think the faculty knows the whole story. Kids are really being hurt, it's not just play fighting. It's a physical violence. They say teenage girls will be teenage girls but why do we label it and pass it off as less destructive to these girls?," Crane said.

"It's difficult trying to get everybody's perspective because there are always two sides to every story. And the farther away from every incident, the more difficult it becomes to try and get everybody's perspective, to try and see if there are any policies or laws broken," Simpson said.

Ann Baker, outreach counselor for Gentry and Smithton Middle Schools in Columbia, said it's a lot easier to tell kids to be nice than to actually see a change. "I think it takes a lot of effort on everyone's part to actually change the culture of a building it's something that I think every school in our United States is probably dealing with. It's not an uncommon thing," Baker said.

Seth Bundy, Director of Communications for the Missouri Department of Social Services, said in 2011 the Missouri School Violence Hotline received more than 1,300 calls. "Reports included allegations of assaults, bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment, property destruction, sexual misconduct, theft, threats, and weapons," Bundy said. When a report is taken, Bundy said local law enforcement and the school district are notified.

Baker said technology has changed the way our culture operates. Long gone are the days of going home to escape the bullies at school. "These days kids have access to each other 24 hours a day. They can text each other, they can be online, they can Facebook each other. So what used to be a time shortened event now is lasting for much longer periods of time which increases their stress level," Baker said.

Crane said she worries all it takes is one time for people to realize the scope of the situation.
"I thought that school was supposed to be a safe place for kids to go, and obviously it's not," Crane said.