Katy teen speaks out against bullying

April 6, 2010 4:08:51 PM PDT
Teenagers in Massachusetts are charged in connection with the bullying of a 15-year-old girl who ultimately committed suicide. Prosecutors said Phoebe Prince faced unrelenting bullying from her high school classmates through texting and Facebook -- so much so that she took her own life. While this case is playing out in a small town, the problem can be found in hallways and classrooms across the nation. Now some parents are calling Phoebe's death a call to action, saying school officials should be held accountable if they look the other way.

Heather Joe, 14, has been dealing with bullies at school since the sixth grade. At times it's been so bad that she's had to stay home.

"Sometimes I haven't wanted to go to school because I'm worried about what's going to happen," she said.

Heather is now an eighth grader at Katy ISD's West Memorial Jr. High, and says over time the bullying has become worse.

She explained, "They're just mean to me and they say that they don't like my hair."

She's even become the victim of cyber bullying. Other girls post comments on Facebook, making fun of her.

Heather said, "It's just that people don't like me."

Heather is a straight A student and plays clarinet in the band, but says it's hard for her to feel good, when other kids are so cruel.

"We're all different and they shouldn't be judging me," she said.

Heather's mom Debbie Joe says Heather has been so depressed that she's admitted wanting to commit suicide.

"She told me she didn't want to be here anymore," Debbie said. "I was really upset with the school because they have been dropping the ball."

Debbie says she has contacted the school and the district by phone, by email and has met multiple times with the principal, but says she has been ignored.

"Please do something with these girls," she implored.

Katy ISD refused to talk on camera about Heather's case or even about its bullying policy. But according to its discipline management plan, bullying is a level three offense. Anyone who does it first gets a verbal warning, and if the bullying is serious or repeated, suspension is possible.

Debbie said, "Nothing is ever done, and my job as a parent is to keep my child safe."

Heather Joe says she found the courage to speak out because she wants to help other kids who are also dealing with bullies.

Katy ISD has promised to issue a statement on bullying in response to our repeated calls for comment.


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