Bullying concerns following suicides at Harrison Central High School


Concerns of bullying within the Harrison County School District continue to grow after two high school students take their own lives. News 25’s Kendra Turley caught up with students and the parents of the most recent victim who aim to shed light on what they feel is an ongoing issue.
“She was going to get a rope off of our back porch and hang herself from a tree in the front yard. So, I just picked her up this morning actually from the psych hospital because of this, because this is what is happening in our schools. The kids are being bullied.”
Bullying concerns within the Harrison County School District continue to grow after two high school students take their own lives. One of those students was ninth grader Drake Swafford. Ronnie Burns said, “He was having issues at school. At one point in time, he took a knife to school because he was scared.”
With both tragic incidents happening just weeks apart, many parents feel a cold shoulder from administration is to blame. Parent Gina Holland said, “The parents and the children feel like no one is helping them. If the parents are feeling helpless, imagine what these kids are feeling like.”
School officials tell News 25 the campus has very clear protocols in place for reports of bullying. Harrison Central High School Principal Avery Bush said, “Every adult on campus is responsible for every student so we need to try to establish some sort of relationship so students feel connected to someone.”
Several students are now speaking out both online and on-camera about their troubling experiences. Student Emily Lizana said, “I was tripped. I had stuff thrown at me. I had my car vandalized. I have no friends now, none.”
Drake’s parents are using this time to encourage those who feel hopeless to seek help immediately. “Something is telling me it’s like he’s telling me to do this. He is telling us to speak out.”
Hoping that by speaking out, it will prevent any student who has been bullied from making a permanent and heartbreaking decision. Parent Brandy Taylor said, “We shouldn’t have to see any parent wake up and not know if they’re kid is going to be alive the next day. It shouldn’t be for anybody. Kids shouldn’t go to school knowing that they’re never going to see their friends again because they were bullied to the point they couldn’t take it anymore.”
Superintendent for the Harrison County School District Roy Gill told News 25: “The district takes everything serious when it comes to the safety of every child and they are doing everything in their power to make sure all children are safe.”