Bullying Leads Swope Middle School Student to Leave School

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RENO, Nev. -- Harassment, physical violence and even teasing are all signs of bullying. The Washoe County School District is taking a proactive approach to stop bullying as part of Bullying Prevention month. It became all too real for one local boy who had to be pulled from school because of the violence.

The most recent event happened Friday Sept. 28 to Swope Middle School student, James Wilson.

"I've been hit by a fishing pole, I've been kicked, I've been punched, I've been thrown in a bush," he said.

It's not the first time for the 11-year-old to be the subject of ridicule. He says it started in Kindergarten.

"I was smarter than everybody in there and I didn't brag about it or anything, but they figured it out and they hated me for it."

Now, it's more of a hate crime. Most recently, a group of kids allegedly beat him outside school grounds at the bus stop on Robinhood Dr. and Lakeside Dr.

"[The Bullies] are saying they're doing it because I'm white, because they think I'm gay," he added.

"It's sickening that that's what our kids see now," Richard Wilson, his father, said.

The Washoe County School District won't comment on this specific case, but says there's zero tolerance for bullying, with a matrix of disciplinary actions before law enforcement can get involved.

"There can be suspension days that are involved, there can be assignments, a variety of different things that all fit in that consistent matrix," says Katherine Louden, the district's counseling, equity and diversity director.

After filing a report with the school and Reno police, the Wilsons pulled their son out of the school system, saying it's not enough.

"They get a slap on the wrist and get told don't do it again and that's it so why does that stop them?" Richard Wilson added. "It just seems like it's being brushed off for someone else to handle."

Louden encourages bystanders to intervene when they see bullying.

"You can make them feel so much better by standing by them, by telling them 'it's okay you don't have to listen to them'," she said. "Reporting is the only way to help to ensure that the behavior will stop and it is the only way to ensure that it won't happen to someone else."

For James, the only place he feels safe now is at home.

"I don't know what i could say to them without them getting mad and beat me up."

Louden says if you suspect your children are being bullied, look for a change in behavior. If they come to you, validate them and make sure they feel like they are being heard and supported. Then, take action by making a report to the school.

You can report a case anonymously. WCSD has set up an online system for anyone to report a case of bullying.