MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – As parents and guardians, you do everything in your power to protect your children. But what do you do when you suspect something is wrong? Maybe they're even targeted by their peers?
One student's severe accident during P.E. led a grandmother on a journey to learn just how you report a suspected bully.
Earlier this month, a game of tag during in gym class ended with 8-year-old Bryce in the emergency room. Madison County School officials say they believe it was an accident, following an investigation.
"My grandson has a fractured nose and two fractured wrists,” explained Bryce’s grandmother, Maria Fulda. “He may lose his front teeth. You know, this is more than just a tag you're it situation."
This family worried the incident may have been bullying and learned the importance of reporting concerns to the district to help identify any potential problems.
"He mentioned a child’s name that has been a problem in bothering him before,” shared Fulda. “And so we weren't so sure this was an accident."
Yet, the family never reported any prior issues.
Bryce's grandmother says she understands rough housing, but she also sensed something may have been off when her second grader told her his injuries were a result of being shoved into a wall during the game of tag.
"Your child may be bullied and you don't even know it," said Fulda.
Madison County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Director Sgt. David Moody oversees school resource officers for the Madison County School District. He's the main point of contact for bullying cases in the district.
"When something serious happens and the parents wants to know why it wasn't taken care of in the first place. Well, if the school doesn't know about, it we can't fix the problem," explained Moody.
Information the Fulda family didn't know.
"Until it's reported, they can't act on it," said Fulda.
For Madison County Schools there's an anonymous hotline for students and parents, SAFE-2-TELL. Messages go directly to Sgt. Moody. Reports can be made anonymously through email, text, call, or voicemail. Call or text (256) 536-TELL (8355) or email 256TELL@madisoncountyal.gov.
"It's then passed on to school resource officers,” said Moody. “From there they contact school administration and tell them the problem and they start to deal with it then."
For Bryce, he is working to get healthy. He returned back to school after four days of recovery off school. Every week he is in and out of doctors’ offices checking up on his wrists, nose and teeth. Bryce has received gifts and encouraging letters from all over the country. As for his guardians, they are on a mission to inform other parents about what steps they need to take to report an incident.
"If your daughter or son is coming home and someone is making fun of them on a regular basis and you see that it bothers them, that is a form of bullying, call that hotline," urges Fulda.
"That's why we are there,” said Moody. “That's why we want them to talk to us so we can prevent something like that from happening."
Sgt. Moody stresses the importance of informing elementary parents about the hotline. He says many young children don't have cell phones to call and text authorities with their concerns and they need help from parents to follow continuing issues.