Community speaks out after bullied teen hangs himself - WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community

Community speaks out after bullied teen hangs himself

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By Sara Belsole

COLUMBUS, GA - On March 28, Ray Brown lived a parent's worst nightmare.

He found his son, 13-year-old Devin, hanging in his closet with a belt around his neck.

"I remember he had black and blue marks around his next, I tried to find a pulse, but I couldn't find a pulse," Ray Brown says.

Brown says his son endured bullying at Rothschild Middle School for months and says students threatened his son for being a snitch after telling teachers about a classmate with a knife.

"He said, dad am I wrong for telling on someone who was going to do bodily harm," Brown says.

NBC 38 spoke on the phone with the Director of Communications for the Muscogee County School District and she says that if Devin's case requires looking in too, that will happen on Monday when officials return from Spring Break. She says that according to policy, all alleged bullying reports are investigated at the school level.

Dozens of viewers have responded to our story. One viewer says, "My child was a victim of bullying at Rothschild this year. The school made promises that they would handle the situation and replace items that were taken from my son and have not."

Another says, "My brother has constantly been picked on at this school too."

And it's not just at Rothschild.

"People would avoid her at lunch or in the hallway. She would walk down the hallway and people would stop talking and you'd hear whispers," parent Genny says.

Genny doesn't want to reveal her last name or the name of her daughter's middle school to protect her daughter. She says the school district wouldn't let her daughter transfer schools unless they could prove it happened.

"They said they would have to make the decision if it was severe enough to let her change schools. And in my opinion it's not for them to say it's severe enough," Genny says.

In Georgia, there is no bullying law, but it is mandatory that every school district have a policy to handle bullying.

If a bully is charged with physical assault, he or she would go through juvenile court.

"We can put them on probation, we can send them to anger management classes, there is a number of things we can do with them to show them this is not a good thing to be doing," Associate Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Dodgen says.

But what about emotional bullying?

"The big problem is how do I prove it, this is a country of laws and we can't just say well we think this happened. Unless there is evidence we don't know anything," Attorney Bob Poydasheff says.

NBC 38 spoke with anti-bully organization Karma. They say they were brought in to the Muscogee County School District last year to address  a serious bullying problem.

"I didn't see anything that was wildly out of the ordinary when you talk about bullying and I noticed that at the school level authorities were handling it but there was a good bit of bullying in certain schools. For example some of it was typical kids being kids. Some of it is due to the military lifestyle, kids moving in and out or kids having moved there to live with other family members because of family problems in another state or another location whatever it may have been," Jessica Brookshire, Founder of Karma, says.

The Karma Foundation is going to be on post next week talking to Fort Benning schools about the problem of bullying as well.

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