Bullying in Public Schools

Over the past several years, bullying has become a much more recognized and discussed subject in schools.

Now a Yakima couple is telling the story of their son in the hopes of helping other parents whose kids may be in the same situation.

We met with Traci Umberger, a mother of a third grade boy.

She says her son was a victim of bullying since he started kindergarten at a Yakima school.

"He'll come home at least twice a week with bruises and cuts from other students," said Umberger, "He'll come home and let us know of names that he's been called that we don't use at home."

Umberger says the bullying didn't just affect her son's interactions with classmates, but also caused his grades to drop, and even resulted in regular visits to a therapist.

Her husband, Lee Umberger says the two were so concerned about their son's health, they had to withdraw him from the school and enroll him into a private school.

But despite leaving the public school system, both parents say they want to see changes made to protect other kids who might become the target of a bully

"[they need] to put more programs in place, more resources for the children to have an outlet to go to maybe on the premises," said Lee Umberger, "Or literature there for the parents."

Schools around the district have anti-bullying programs such as sSecond Step and Steps to Respect already in effect.

However, schools are adopting a new program called Positive Behavior Interventions and Support -- otherwise known as P.B.I.S.

"P.B.I.S. is a program that focuses on the positives and not on the negatives," said school counselor Julio Sanchez, "We encourage and acknowledge students for demonstrating positive behaviors at the school. And what this does, it increases the frequency of the students practicing those behaviors, and it creates a positive learning environment within the school and it minimizes bullying behaviors."

Traci Umberger admits not all of the responsibility should fall on the school district, parents have to be involved and aware.

"I think there's only so much they can do, so many resources they have as well," said Umberger, "It's our children, I think the parents need to get involved and interfere with this and try to teach their children things that they can do."

For more information on P.B.I.S., click here.

For information on bully prevention, visit www.stopbullying.gov or www.dig4kids.org