Mitchell told the Courier her daughter was bullied and called names “just because she’s taller than all the other kids. I always told her to walk with her head up before you walk into the school, pray about it, and keep on going. Don’t let anybody stop you from doing what you have to do because you still have to survive in this world.”
Mitchell’s daughter is headed to the seventh grade. The New Pittsburgh Courier is not naming the school or Mitchell’s daughter’s full name.
According to the Allegheny County Bar Association’s website, Pennsylvania’s laws regarding bullying “requires schools to have written policies, made available to students, which address bullying and the persons to whom complaints should be made. It also defines bullying as ‘an intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical act, or a series of acts’” which are “directed at another student or students, occurs in a school setting, that (which) is severe, persistent or pervasive, and that has the effect of doing any of the following; substantially interfering with a student’s education, creating a threatening environment, or substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.”
The Bar Association’s website says that if someone suspects bullying is occurring, “First and foremost, always check the anti-bullying policy of your school district. While the Pennsylvania statute does not give a great deal of guidance, it is left up to the school districts to develop and implement their own policy, and some may be much more extensive. See what you are dealing with and then go from that point on. The district hopefully will have set out the person to whom the bullying complaints should be made and what the course of action is following the initial report.”
Mz. Nik had this message for bullies: “It is not cool. People are killing themselves, and some don’t have a whole lot of self-esteem and it makes them feel as if they don’t have a space…Please take time to look at yourself in the mirror because there may be something going on with you that is causing you to do these things.”
Cuspard, who also spends time at the Center for Family Excellence in the Hill District, said that a lot of teenagers, whether they are being bullied or are doing the bullying, don’t get the help they need in general. “I was a teenager before, and I don’t remember anybody talking to me concerning the stages of my development,” he said. “I just seemed like I was alone, but I didn’t let anybody know that.”
Cuspard said many of today’s teens are indirectly crying out for help. “A young guy came to me and said, ‘Mr. Rodney, it’s hard being a teenager.’ And he was so right. They need somebody to talk to, and help them go along with life.”