12-year-old student recalls painful experiences of bullying at Ascension Parish school, parents speak out

NBC Local 33

"I waited until everybody went to sleep and I cried. I cried so much and it hurt."

PRAIRIEVILLE, La. (BRPROUD) — Discussion is heating up in Ascension Parish as a mother speaks out about her child’s experiences with bullying at school.

Parent Sarah Rodriguez made a social media post about her child getting bullied at Galvez Middle School in Ascension Parish. That Facebook post blew up and sparked a conversation as others chimed in about their similar experiences.

“I waited until everybody went to sleep and I cried. I cried so much and it hurt,” said Galvez Middle School student Victoria Rodriguez. I’ve been bullied practically all my life through elementary. But this time it’s multiple people and it won’t stop.

The 12-year-old painfully recalled her encounters at school.

“It’s just been happening and this new boy that came to the school in sixth grade. He started bullying me first, and it went on and on,” said Victoria. “My mom even got text messages on Instagram from him calling me a whole bunch of horrible names and saying stuff about me that shouldn’t be said. And it’s just horrible.”

She said she has had to stick up for herself. The burden is not only carried by her but also her mother Sarah Rodriguez.

“Don’t listen to anything people say bad about you. Don’t care what people say about you. It doesn’t matter. You be you no matter what,” said Sarah to her daughter.

Mother Sarah Rodriguez said things have gone too far. 

“It’s devastating as a parent to see your child being bullied,” she said.

Things got so bad her daughter asked for medical help. 

“I wanted to go see a therapist or some kind of doctor. Like talk to her about the pain and see what they can help me with,” said Victoria.

Sarah said her daughter has been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety because of the bullying.

“She now is on medications for all of that. She’s just a complete 360,” said Sarah.

She said she’s only spoken to the school about it and that didn’t help.

“I have dealt with the school. This will be about the third or fourth time that I’ve [gone] through the school with the issues. I haven’t [gone] any further than the school yet until now,” said Sarah.

After Sarah posted her child’s experience on Facebook, many others flooded the comments section with their children’s experiences at Galvez Middle, along with other schools.

Ascension Parish Schools sent a statement saying to reference the Student Handbook and to contact the level director and superintendent if parents felt unheard.

In a statement, Ascension Parish Public Schools said:

“Ascension Public Schools is committed to maintaining a safe, orderly, civil, and positive learning environment so that no student feels bullied, threatened, or harassed while in school or participating in school-related activities. Our process for reporting and investigating complaints is outlined in our Student Handbook, which can be found at https://www.apsb.org/assets/docs/APSB/2021/Publications/2021-22STUDENTHANDBOOK.pdf. We always appreciate the opportunity to hear from parents. We value their perspective and have multiple opportunities for them to share their concerns, ask questions, and provide input. When they feel that their voice is not being heard, we have next steps that they can follow that include contacting the level director and superintendent. “

“My oldest son was in the middle school when a football player started bullying him and it [has] gotten to the point to where he said ‘I don’t want to go back to school, I want to do anything but go back to school,'” said Ascension parent Bobby Cannon.

Bobby and his wife Suzie Cannon said their sons have dealt with bullying from students and teachers in the past.

“We were able to get the school to interview him separately and come to find out this little boy was bullying him. It was during the course of this, we found out that this was in this little boy’s first time bullying a child, according to the handbook, that on your second occasion, you’re supposed to be suspended or even expelled. But he was a star football player. So they didn’t do anything,” he said.

One son has hemophilia, a blood disorder. They said he had trouble getting the proper assistance he needed.

Parents called for change.

“School is here and everybody else is here, and they just want everybody else to listen. And if you bring anything to, you know, if you go against the grain. Then they try to just sweep you under the rug,” said Suzie.

“To the bullies out there, and to my bullies, stop. Bullying is not supposed to be a part of the world. The world is supposed to be happy,” said Victoria.

If you or know someone who has been bullied, there are resources you can access. For those resources click here.

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