The Short of It
A mother says students at a Denver middle school are using Facebook to schedule after-school fights.
Jeanette Velasquez says her daughter, Heaven, has been bullied into fighting at school three times since last October because her family is homeless, but other parents and the Denver Public Schools won't do anything about it.
"She doesn't feel safe," Velasquez told Fox 31 in Denver. "She feels like the school doesn't take her seriously. This is my fourth time coming to the school to speak with them about it."
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Even worse: the fights are apparently being planned out in advance on Facebook. "It was a planned out attack," Velasquez said of an incident last week that was videotaped by another student and posted online. Velasquez shared screenshots with Fox 31 of posts on Facebook that advertised the upcoming fight with Heaven and asked others to record it and forward the video.
In the footage, Heaven can be seen fighting back. Both she and the other girl were suspended for two days. But Velasquez said punishment is not enough. She believes school administrators should be working with parents to stop the violence online before it happens. But instead, they all appear to be turning a blind eye.
"I know we can't stop it," she said. "It's going to happen. But at least we can be more vocal about it. I feel like [the school] won't take it seriously until something happens to my daughter where it involves her health, her safety, her life."
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In a statement to Fox31, the Denver Public School System said it takes allegations of bullying seriously: "We want to ensure that incidents of bullying are addressed quickly; that victims of bullying receive support and that perpetrators of bullying understand the harm done and learn alternative behavior strategies."
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It continues, "We recommend that parents check in with their children often to ensure that they are feeling safe and supported in school. If a child is experiencing bullying behavior, we advise parents to be supportive toward him/her and to try to get specific information about what is happening. We encourage, if they feel that it is necessary, to inform the school principal. If parents feel that the school has not addressed the behavior, we ask that they contact the Office of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) at 720-423-3350 or FACE@dpsk12.org, for information on district-level resources."