MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Death threats and relentless bullying have become a tragic normality not just nationwide, but in your children's hallways. Tonight, more parents are coming forward and pushing for help, but so far, it's been met with lackluster results.
Three students in three different grades at three different schools in Horry County are now coming forward to share their stories of relentless bullying while the school district remains silent on the topic. The circumstances surrounding the latest bullying accusations may be different, but the core complaints from parents are exactly the same: a lack of communication and sensitivity to the topic.
"They wrote Michaela Bingham should die. She should kill herself," Tonya Strong says, remembering the day her daughter came to her. "That's serious stuff when someone writes that someone should kill themselves on a bathroom wall for a whole entire school to see."
Those words are tough to forget for 16-year-old Michaela Bingham.
"I can't get away from it," she says. Online, at school - everywhere she turned, there was relentless harassment from a female student and her friends.
"It just feels that the school doesn't care enough," Michaela says. "There was this one time when I was receiving texts during class and they said 'We're going to come find you.' So I went to the SRO officer and he just said 'it's just middle school drama, we're not dealing with it.' At that point, I just felt like nobody was going to do anything about anything."
Tonya's continued push for answers from Socastee High School left her grasping at air.
"They passed me from the principal to the assistant principal to the counselor to the SRO officer," Tonya recalls. "It's just a never-ending circle that nobody wants to take care of."
At her wit's end, Tonya transferred Michaela from Socastee High, only to find the harassment and frustrations didn't stop.
"I've had at least eight officers tell me, there's more serious cases going on here," Tonya explains. "And I know there are more serious cases. These small incidents lead up to big incidents, and if you don't take care of them when they're small, then something bad is about to happen. And they don't seem to get that, and they don't seem to care about it."
Horry County Police responded to the latest incident in May when Michaela and her step-brother ran into the same group of girls while walking their dog near Garden City Pier.
"My daughter made a stupid decision to walk back past them but it's dark on the beach, but she doesn't deserve to be hit and spit on. That's the main valid point here. This has been cyber-bullying and words and hatefulness and threats, and even though it's come to a very small head, it's still not being taken care of. Does she have to get her butt kicked severely? Because if her step-brother wasn't there to help her, that would have been five girls on top of her. She could have ended up in the hospital," says Tonya.
After seeing the case in Central Florida where 12 year-old Rebecca Sedwick leapt to her death after being aggressively bullied by other girls, Tonya says it's not hard not to think about what could be.
"I'm trying to prevent a situation that's bound to happen," she says, which is the same argument being made by Tammy Davis, a mother of a bullied 7th grader at North Myrtle Beach Middle.
"I said it will be on your conscience if something happens to him, because you won't do anything," Tammy says. At 13, her son's large stature hasn't given him immunity from bullies.
"My son got threatened verbally saying they would come to our house with AKA 47s and shoot up his family," Tammy explains. "I brought that up to the authorities. I went there and addressed what can I do about this and they just laughed it off and told me that was just 13-year-old kids being 13-year-old kids talking."
In an interview, WMBF Anchor Heather Biance asks, "How close were those threats in proximity to his suicide attempt?"
"I would say within like maybe two weeks tops," Tammy responds. "I came home and found that he was trying to hang himself, but then somehow word got leaked out at school and he got made fun of for that."
Tammy's son feels no one takes him seriously at school. All while the bullying continues to escalate.
"I get the disciplinary report and all it says is 'horse playing in the bathroom.' Student A and Student B went into slap boxing, not once does it say my son was body slammed, but yet they told me that a student admitted to it. So I have a problem with that. Looking at the disciplinary report going forward, I would look at it that my child was the problem."
And she worries how a misinterpreted disciplinary report might impact his future.
"Nobody is perfect. My son is not perfect," Tammy says. "I understand kids say things, I understand my kid says things, but that doesn't mean he deserves to be hit by somebody."
The latest research shows at least two to three students in a typical class of 25 students will be bullied. Of those, one will experience bullying for a long duration. Those are the ones Dr. Andrew Terranova is most deeply concerned about.
"Research is clear: when it's persistent, when it lasts long period of time, that's when the worst outcomes happen," explains Dr. Terranova.
Bullying may not be a crime in the legal stance, but as we have seen time and time again, young kids are taking drastic measures to escape the ridicule.
Terranova says, "If you think about it. If any of those things happened to adults in the workplace, it wouldn't be tolerated. So I think we owe it to these kids to do what we can even though we don't have all of the answers at the moment."
We want you to use this opportunity to talk with your kid to talk about bullying. See the sidebar for resources to talk to your kids about bullying, or click here: http://bit.ly/1qjtNzh
If you are having issues with your school, you don't have to settle with a lack of response. There is a chain of command to follow so you know who to contact and when.
1) Contact your son/daughter's teacher
2) Principal of school
of School Safety and Security. Phone number: 843.488.6835
Read the full text of proposed bill H4413, the "Report-A-Bully Act," here: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess120_2013-2014/bills/4413.htm How to talk to your kids about bullying: http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/talking-about-it/ 85More>>
Friday, July 25 2014 4:09 AM EDT2014-07-25 08:09:05 GMT
SOCASTEE (WMBF) - WMBF News is at the scene of a car crash in Socastee that damaged several cars at Socastee Auto Sales. We are working to learn more about what happened. Stick with WMBF News for updates. CopyrightMore >>
A woman will be charged with DUI after she allegedly crashed a car in Socastee that damaged four other cars at Socastee Auto Sales. More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 11:48 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:48:38 GMT
Myrtle Beach (WMBF) - The National Retail Federation says it's going to cost you $670.00 this year for back to school supplies, clothes and electronics. That's up 5% from last year but if you shop smart,More >>
The National Retail Federation estimated the costs for back-to-school basics will cost nearly $700. The hundreds are estimated to cover supplies, clothes and electronics. The number is up 5 percent from last year. More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 11:45 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:45:08 GMT
DENVER, CO (WMBF) - WMBF News requests weather pictures of all sorts, so it seems fair to share this one with the viewers. The great meets amazing shot was captured by Twitter User Gina Hyams. HyamsMore >>
The great meets amazing shot was captured by Twitter User Gina Hyams.
Hyams said she snapped the pic from the seat of plane flying from New Jersey to Colorado.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 9:56 PM EDT2014-07-25 01:56:43 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The WMBF News First Alert Weather Team is partnering with Beach Church to host an inaugural Hurricane Expo for residents of Horry County to prepare for the season. The family-friendlyMore >>
The WMBF News First Alert Weather Team is partnering with Beach Church to host an inaugural Hurricane Expo for residents of Horry County to prepare for the season.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 9:29 PM EDT2014-07-25 01:29:40 GMT
Brunswick County Sheriff's Office detectives are searching for 16-year-old Haley Brook Clark from Ocean Isle Beach. Clark was last seen Tuesday at around 11 p.m. at 1897 Camelot Dr. in Ocean Isle Beach.More >>
Brunswick County Sheriff's Office detectives are searching for 16-year-old Haley Brook Clark from Ocean Isle Beach.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 9:06 PM EDT2014-07-25 01:06:57 GMT
A Brunswick County man is behind bars for his alleged involvement in three separate charges of sexual assault on a female. Brunswick County Sheriff's Deputies arrested Denzel Jamal Hill, from Leland. HillMore >>
The bond has increased to more than $7 million for a Brunswick County man who was arrested and charged for his alleged involvement in three separate charges of sexual assault on a female. More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-07-24 23:01:16 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A volleyball league is set to hit the volleyball courts near the old Pavilion site for the first time in Myrtle Beach. City leaders hope volleyball tournaments will bring moreMore >>
A volleyball league is set to hit the volleyball courts near the old Pavilion site for the first time in Myrtle Beach.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 6:18 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:18:32 GMT
SOCASTEE, SC (WMBF) – No arrests have been made and an investigation is underway to find out who vandalized the Socastee Recreation Park, sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. There are dozens ofMore >>
No arrests have been made and an investigation is underway to find out who vandalized the Socastee Recreation Park, sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. There are dozens of tire tracks and ruts left were someone did donuts all over two soccer fields.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 6:18 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:18:18 GMT
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Officials with the Horry County Sheriff's Office have issued a manhunt for three wanted suspects. Stephen Caruso, 38, of Myrtle Beach is wanted for a criminal domestic violenceMore >>
Officials with the Horry County Sheriff's Office have issued a manhunt for three wanted suspects.More >>