Students Stage Walk-Out to Protest Bullying in South St. Paul

January 12, 2018 01:39 PM

Students at South St. Paul High School braved sub-zero temperatures Friday morning to walk out of class.

It was meant as a protest against bullying, and what they said is a lack of effort to put a stop to it.

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In all, about 100 students took part.

"We have seen so much bullying in our school, and such a lack of consequences for bullying, that we are just sick and tired of it," sophomore Sarah Brosi said.

"They might give a bit of concern, but there's not always a lot of consequences for people that actually do that kind of stuff."

The students walked out of the school through a variety of different exits. They then walked through a park, and a few blocks over until they reached the school district offices.

Students said some of their teachers aren't doing enough to stop students from fighting and putting each other down. The students, of a variety of ages, marched and chanted together.

Other students who didn't participate in the march said there is bullying. But they think there are other ways to have their voices heard.


Incidents by the numbers

A look at the number of incidents by type in the South St. Paul District over the last three years. The Department of Education only records incidents that led to a disciplinary action of a one-day suspension or more:

2016-2017

Bullying: 9
Assault: 92
Cyber Bullying: 0
Harassment: 6
Threat/Intimidation: 20
Fighting: 47
Verbal Abuse: 2
Hazing: 0

2015-2016

Bullying: 9
Assault: 56
Cyber Bullying: 0
Harassment: 23
Threat/Intimidation: 16
Fighting: 56
Verbal Abuse: 6
Hazing: 0

2014-2015

Bullying: 5
Assault: 37
Cyber Bullying: 2
Harassment: 8
Threat/Intimidation: 6
Fighting: 45
Verbal Abuse: 5
Hazing: 0


"I know there are people that are willing to talk to students, and our principal is doing a lot to try and help students," junior Kailee Museus said.

"I know bullying isn't - we shouldn't be tolerating it at all, it's not good. But I think there are other steps to take before walking out."

District administrators invited the students inside to discuss their concerns. About a dozen students did so. But the rest turned down the offer, saying they saw it as the district's way of silencing their protest.

"We currently have a number of students and parents who are expressing their concern about bullying," the district said in a statement. "We are encouraging a 'walk-in' for students today rather than a 'walk-out' to meet with the Principal to keep improving our school. Principal Ochocki invited students to stay in school and join him in the lecture hall where we can all discuss the concerns and work together to come up with potential solutions.

"In the event a student does leave the building, he/she will be marked unexcused for the remainder of the day and standard student handbook procedures will apply. We will continue to take appropriate action to make our schools a great place to be. We have been meeting and interacting with the organizers. We always want students to feel safe.

"The district is always continuing to work to create a safe and effective learning environment for students and staff. Our district continues to train our staff on suicide prevention and anti-bullying strategies and student behavior management. Over the past few years, we have doubled the number of counselors in our school system to help support the mental health and social/emotional wellness of our students. 

"Through this increased awareness, students have more opportunities to connect with adults if they are feeling frustrated or threatened.  Adults are becoming better equipped and more aware of signs that indicate students are not thriving. We always want to continue to do more to support and prevent student bullying each and every day.

"If one child is feeling threatened or is struggling, that is a concern. We take each and every concern or report seriously. We want to take advantage of this opportunity to work together as a community to address this concern both inside and outside of school. We want to continue to listen and learn and grow together with our students, staff, families, and community." 

Credits

Brandi Powell

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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