NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Taikyyah Swift said she didn’t want to have to reach out to 10 On Your Side for help, but she was left with no other option when messages to school board members and other school officials went unanswered.
She says her 14-year-old son has been the victim of incessant bullying and beatings while attending Ruffner Middle School.
“I’m trying to get my kids in a school where they can be safe and they don’t have to worry about other kids bullying them or trying to pick fights with them,” she said.
It all started when her son stood up to another student who sexually harassed her daughter. Then he became the target of verbal and physical abuse.
The beatings and bullying would take place in the classroom and out in the community. The teens would even show up at the family’s home to try to intimidate him.
Swift emotionally recalled seeing her son with a black eye, deciding to keep him and her daughter home from school for their own protection.
The district offered other options for schools the kids could transfer to, but wouldn’t guarantee transportation to other schools. She’d been communicating with administrators for weeks with no real promise of a move being made.
The staff at Teens With a Purpose have helped her and her kids as they dealt with this, even when it escalated to a point where she called the police after a group of kids robbed her son.
“And I’m reaching out for help and I’m not getting it and it’s sad,” she said. “And it’s nothing I can do ’cause I’m not on the school board, and I’m not a principal, and I’m not a teacher.”
Swift says police have been trying to help her son work through it and they even met with school officials as well about the incidents.
“What process is there when my child is not safe in the school he’s going to?” she said. “And so yeah, that’s why I reached out.”
10 On Your Side reached out to Norfolk Public Schools about the incident. Although they couldn’t comment on this specific incident, they sent a statement.
Norfolk Public Schools cannot comment specifically on any student to protect their identities and privacy. Norfolk Public Schools takes student discipline and safety seriously. Additionally, NPS has invested significantly in social-emotional learning for all students, and training for teachers and administrators in PBIS, or Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. This disciplinary framework includes layers of support for academic, behavioral, social/emotional and psychological needs. This framework relies on relationship building and behavioral expectations.Michelle Washington, Norfolk Public Schools
Swift has a message for other parents in the district dealing with similar situations.
“If it’s going on with your child, we need your voice,” she said. “We need everybody to stand up because these people need to take us a little more serious when it comes to our babies’ lives.”
Since 10 On Your Side reached out to the school district, the children have been transferred to another school in the district and have been provided with transportation.
Teens With a Purpose is continuing to work and care for the students through their regular programming.
Even though the physical wounds have healed, those close to them say the emotional wounds won’t heal as quickly.