“Please Help Us”: Project Baltimore Flooded with Bullying Calls
Nationwide, nearly half of children in grades 4-12 reported being bullied in school in the past month, according to federal data.
One Baltimore County couple knows this all too well. They’re scared to send their 9-year-old son to school. They don’t believe he’s safe, and after Project Baltimore told their story, we learned they are not alone.
The Project Baltimore hotline lit up with calls from parents terrified of the same thing—bullies and how their schools deal with them.
Caller: “I seen it on the news about the bullying in school.”
Caller: “I'm calling in regards to the Project Baltimore for the BCPS bullying discipline. I have a nephew that's going through the same thing right now.”
Jared Haga is a fourth grader at Pine Grove Elementary in Baltimore County. But at the end of the school year, his parents are pulling him out. They say his safety is at stake. They reached this decision after his mom made a devastating discovery, a noted written by Jared, that read: “Kill me. I mean nothing. I have isues (sic).”
Caller: “A little kid grabbed her by her hair and cut half of her hair”
Caller: “I'm calling in regards to an incident that took place at my kid's school.”
One after another, we received dozens of phone calls from victims of bullying, sharing Jared’s pain and his parent’s frustration with a school system, they say, isn’t documenting incidents in order to look safer on paper.
“Nobody’s listening. Nobody’s paying attention. Nobody’s invested in what’s important,” says Jared stepfather, Josh Landers. “It's like they're ambivalent.”
Caller: “This is so much wrong. They got bullies in that school.”
Caller: “The school protect bullies not the victim.”
Caller: “We need help. Please help us.”
The violence that's occurring within schools is eroding a whole lot of children's lives,” says Josh Landers. “We want to see change made. We want to see children safe.”
We reached out to Baltimore County schools for our initial story with the Landers family, the school system declined an interview but did release a statement saying they are committed to providing safe and orderly learning environments.