Freeport, Illinois — Our phones started ringing around 7:00 a.m. yesterday morning February 21, 2017 from residents and other parents who noticed protesters gathering around the Banks Bergagna Educational Center.
Starting around 7:00 a.m. a group of concerned parents and students gathered in front of the Banks Bergagna Educational Center in downtown Freeport to protest against Bullying.
From the first photo we took around 8:00 a.m., the number of protesters had grown to around ten people.
From what we were told, a 13 year old girl had been having problems with bullying at school.
It was told to us that those concerns weren’t addressed.
The 13 year old student attempted to commit suicide on the eve of February 14th, 2017, one parent told us and is currently at a facility in Rockford.
“It’s not against the whole school”, the parent said. “It’s about one particular counselor and the school won’t listen to us, so this is how we get their attention.”
Representatives from the school weren’t available for comment when we there at 8:00 yesterday morning.
We do have a side note however we would like to add to this story.
It’s pretty safe to say that no one, (except the bully) wants anyone to be bullied.
Teachers don’t, school staff doesn’t and the majority of parents do not encourage, nor agree with anyone being bullied.
But there are unanswered questions in this story.
We did not cover this story yesterday immediately.
We knew of the protest at 7:00 a.m. yesterday morning and could have blown the bullying story up huge if we would have aired it.
But we didn’t.
We didn’t because we wanted another news outlet’s perspective.
We didn’t want to be the only news organization that covered this. We wanted a second opinion.
WIFR covered the story in a news broadcast, shown below. MyStateline also covered the story.
The title of their story said, “Freeport Community Rallies Against Bullying” and in the second sentence says, “a student tried to commit suicide because it happens so often to her”.
In WIFR’s story they state that what was told to them was that the bullying had been going on for years.
In the story it says, “Now Tommy and Tina have gathered friends and family, rallying outside the school because they feel counselors and teachers knew Tatum wanted to hurt herself, but didn’t do enough to help”.
“They never notified no authorities, me or mom,” the report adds which is a comment said by the father of the 13 year old girl.
And this is where we have a problem.
First, any child attempting to take their own life is tragic. It doesn’t matter who it is or what it’s for, it’s a tragedy. The story of this young 13 year old girl absolutely breaks our heart.
We know the parents of this 13 year old too.
Not well, not weekend golfing or BBQ friends, but we know them. A year and a half ago or so we did a story on their son Teagan.
Teagen is the young boy in the cover photo of this article and yes, he is in a wheelchair.
He is such a remarkably delightful child also and we really like the parents too. We see the Mom at her job all the time and have nothing but good to say about any of them.
But with three news outlets covering the story, it bears to ask; “didn’t the parents know their child was being bullied”?
You have to assume obviously that they did because that’s why they pulled her out of her previous school.
What isn’t answered in any story or was answered with us, is whether they spoke with the school themselves.
What did the last school say or do about bullying?
All that was said was that their daughter was being bullied for years so they moved her to another school, hoping it would change.
Years is a LONG time.
Years is two to three birthday’s. It’s two to three Christmas’s, two to three summers off and it spans two to three grade levels.
That’s a very very long time in a child’s life to go being “bullied”.
Where was the protest against bullying over the past 2-3 years (or longer) that this has been going on then?
Where was the protest against the last school spanning “years” of being bullied?
Where’s the sign of an outcry to either the school, news stations or the public at any time before a young 13 year attempts to take her own life?
In this story, a young girl is bullied for years, enrolled in a new school and the new school is blamed.
Not the bully?
More concerning to us though is what makes them believe, that the school “knew” their daughter wanted to hurt herself?
They told WIFR reporters that the rally outside the school was because “they feel counselors and teachers knew Tatum wanted to hurt herself”.
Did they know?
Did they tell the counselor or the school that they believe she wanted to hurt herself?
And hurt herself?
How does your child even go anywhere after you as a parent, believe that your child might hurt themselves?
How do you even let your child out of your sight, if you feel that way?
It isn’t said, nor was it said to us.
Bullying is a problem but bullying has been going on since the beginning of time.
We did interviews with residents living in local retirement homes (80 to 90 year olds) in Freeport and they spoke of rotten things they did to other kids growing up.
Does bullying happen? Of course it does. But the way you solve it is the same way people have been solving it for centuries.
In this case, once you talk with your child about who is calling them names or badgering them (and after years of it going on you certainly should know who is doing this to your child) you approach the parents of that child.
“Hey, I wanted to know if I could talk with you. My child has been telling us that you’re child said some mean things and I was wondering if we could just talk about it and work it out somehow.”
In this case, there is no indication of anyone doing that.
Were the parents receptive to you?
Did they sit down with their child and talk with them about things they said or may have done?
Did they sit down with you and your children together and did you set some ground rules for the kids?
Schools don’t raise bullies.
Bullying is a “parent problem”.
Bullying is someone’s rotten child causing a problem.
Your success in dealing with the parent directly is a clear indication of any success a school may have in dealing with the parent of a bully.
We absolutely unequivocally believe that public schools need to have disciplinary measures against students. But you have to understand that some parents, don’t like that.
“Don’t you talk to my child like that”, some parents say.
It doesn’t even matter if their own child is in the wrong. They do not want any school disciplining, correcting or god forbid, instilling any moral values in their children.
Hence, the bully gets defended and in some cases, their actions are further encouraged by the parents defending them at the school.
Their child did something wrong and the school tries to address it, but is met with an unruly parent.
The school, its teachers or its staff do not raise children to be that way. Parents do. Parents allow it, defend it or just outright ignore it, don’t care or think it’s perfectly normal and do nothing.
That’s your bullying problem and sometimes yes, that bullying problem needs school or law enforcement’s help or assistance.
Have our public schools ever dropped the ball? Have they ever made a mistake, missed a kid, had some slip through the cracks?
Of course they have.
Are there any teachers who look back on some kids and wish they could do more, could have done more, seen something they didn’t?
Of course there are.
Have you ever missed anything, made a mistake, done something or didn’t do something with your own children that you regret or feel bad about?
We bet that’s true as well.
In the words of the Dad himself though, in this situation he even said to us directly that, “it’s not against the whole school”.
But neither WIFR’s story nor MyStateline’s story addresses the problem does it?
The real problem of bullying, which is communication and immediate action.
The problem of tackling things directly with parents on both sides of the bullying problem, with one parent talking with the other.
Here, a story of years of bullying is being told.
Years of a young girl coming home every single day from school with stories to tell of her school day. Yet no news, no story, no protest, no talk of trying to work it out with the parents of the bullies until someone tries to kill themselves.
Then all the fingers point to a school, its teachers or its staff, not the parents who knew of the bullying taking place, and not the parents of the bully child.
A third party is to blame.
We’re not suggesting, implying or stating that the school or any person’s in it are, or are not part of this particular case and we are not suggesting the parents are either.
What we are suggesting is that if your child is being bullied by someone at school, find out who the child is and go talk with their parents.
Sure, you can notify the teacher or school staff but try and talk with the parents of the child yourself.
Bullying is a “school problem”, but it’s a school problem by nature of default. It’s more prevalent in schools because hundreds of children gather there.
This isn’t a school problem, it’s a parent problem.
Someone’s rotten child is causing the problem and the school, its teachers or its staff did not raise that child to be that way. Parents did.
If our child was bullied, we would go talk with the parents.
If that got us nowhere, we would go talk with the school.
If the school didn’t separate that child from our child and more than two weeks of it went on, we would immediately remove our child from that school or that class, and mostly likely call every news station in the area.
We would be protesting right away, not years after and not after an attempted suicide and odds are, we would be protesting in front of the bully’s house.
And if, in the case above, it were done that way, we wouldn’t just blame the school. We’d blame the parents of the bully and we’d make sure that their face and their name shared the exact same spotlight of blame because that’s the real story of bullying.
It’s someone’s child, bullying your child.
That is the bullying problem and unless those two are addressed, you will never see an end to bullying and the blame, will unfortunately always being pointed in the wrong direction. Never at the bully themselves.
- If your child is being bullied, go talk with the parents of that child.
- If that conversation gets you nowhere, then go talk with the school.
- If neither conversation gets you anywhere after a few weeks time, then call us, the police or some other news outlet.
We’ll expose the parents of the bully, the bully themselves and if a school or school staff blatantly ignores a real problem with your child, (such as the parent did when you tried to speak with them) we will write the biggest bullying story you have ever seen.
Our story though, will put the right blame on the right people to solve the right problem, and if you don’t think tomorrow’s Top Story featuring a photo of the parents of a bully will bring attention to what is happening with your child, try it.
We assure you of this.
Niether WIFR or MyStateline’s story will stop anything regarding bullying. Neither outlet exposes the very bully themselves.
It just made our entire school staff look bad and all the school staff because neither story, said the name of the person at the school. In the public’s mind, their teacher/counselor could be anyone at Freeport.
Stop your child from being bullied.
Talk with the parents, talk with the school and if that doesn’t work after a few weeks time, talk with us, the police or some other news outlet.
Do not wait, do not hesitate and do not forget to blame the bully or bullies behind the very problem.
Because afterall, how can you possibly tell a story of bullying, that doesn’t blame the bully themselves.
The saddest part of this story to us however is the girl, who is the ultimate loser in this story. The 13 year old girl that has no resolve yet with those who may have been bullying her.
All she has is a news story with her picture on it and no peace within the very problem itself.
To us, that is the saddest part of this entire situation and the sign little Teagen is holding, says it all.
“Be a buddy, not a bully.”