Members of the Freeport community held a rally against bullying outside of Freeport’s Bank-Bergana school just two days after a student tried to commit suicide.
The Bank-Bergana school is part of the Freeport Alternative High School program, known as SITE – Students in Tranitional Education.
The student’s father, Tommy Clankie, said she claimed to be regularly bullied at the school.
“It took too much,” said Clankie. “It got to her. She’s only 13 years-old and it’s happening all over the world.”
Clankie is right. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 4,400 young people commit suicide each year nationwide. Bullying victims are two to nine times more likely to consider suicide. The CDC says girls, ranging from 10 – 14 years of age, may be at a higher risk for suicide.
Tatum’s sister found the bottle of pills which Tatum took and told her mom, ultimately saving her life.
“I found the note in her pocket and the pills that she took and I called my mom and they found out what she took,” said Caitlin Huenefeld.
Clankie says the Freeport school district knew of his daughter’s depression and did nothing to help her. But, the superintendent of the district denies the allegation and says they do take bullying seriously.
“At Freeport, I think we’re trying to be more proactive with what we’re doing,” said Superintendent Mike Schiffman. “By starting at the younger grades of having (a) Positive Behavior Intervention System setup, so we can continue to get to the root of the problem and find out what’s going on.”
Schiffman added that the district actively monitors its schools and takes action if needed.
“We collect data on a quarterly monthly basis of the infractions on what’s going on in the area. So, if we have major bullying going on in one area or one school, then we have a social worker go in and speak with those kids individually, or [in] a whole group discussion.”