STEWART COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — According to parents at Stewart County Middle, the school has a bullying problem. This news comes after a seventh grader died by suicide on Friday, leading authorities to investigate the boy’s cellphone and laptop for signs of harassment.
Thirteen-year-old Samuel Manning’s tragic death sent shockwaves through Stewart County Middle School.
“We need to remove the fact that not necessarily that they’re children, but they have a voice, and their voice needs to be heard,” a parent of a Stewart County Middle School student told News 2.
The concerned parent did not want to reveal her name or face, fearful of backlash. However, she said her daughter’s classmates regularly bully her too.
“Someone came up to her because she has short hair, and used a gay slur against her, and she did report it and nothing changed… I know that there are other parents and their kids that have it worse than mine, for sure,” she explained.
She said the bullying stems from the same group of students in each grade, and she wants administrators to do more.
“We will talk to them, or we will handle it,” the parent said. “But when the same thing happens the next day, they obviously did not handle it.”
Director of Schools Mike Craig called Manning’s death “a worst nightmare,” adding that the school community is grieving.
He said bully prevention efforts start as early as kindergarten in Stewart County Schools, in addition to the following efforts:
- Students sign a social contract in a new program called “Capturing Kids’ Hearts”.
- Employees receive suicide prevention and anti-discrimination training.
- Every school has a school resource officer (SRO).
- Bullying is investigated fully.
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Still, the concerned Stewart County Middle School parent told News 2 she has considered homeschooling her child in order to keep her safe.
“I think these kids that are continually getting away with it are going to grow up and be bullies in their adult lives,” she said. “I think, absolutely 100%, that’s going to happen, if they keep on letting them get away with it.”
According to Craig, the student’s death has shaken the school, but officials have provided grief counselors to the students.