Bullying is an epidemic in America. Nearly one third of children in grades six to 10 will experience some form of targeted harassment from their peers during school hours, and certain minority groups are at a greater risk of being affected than others.
Michael Ayala, a 15-year-old disabled student at the Judith Resnik Middle School in Texas, became the latest victim of the ongoing problem in the states, and was left bruised and bloodied after being allegedly set upon by a malicious group of school bullies.
Valerie Lozano, Michael’s mother, witnessed the aftermath of the attack when she went to collect the teenager from school, and was sickened by what she saw.
“I was waiting for my son in the truck and I was wondering why it was taking him so long and I seen this big crowd. I looked on the floor and my son was covered in blood. He blanked out. He was knocked out,” Lozano told news reporters.
Michael was smothered in cuts and bruises, had a black eye, and has potentially sustained a broken nose from the attack.
Nobody has said what exactly started the violent altercation, but Lozano claims that her son went to his coach just before the fight broke out, and asked him for help with the situation. According to her, “the coach said, ‘don’t worry, I got you'”, but – when Michael was set upon – he never intervened.
“I want something to be done about this because the coach knew my son was going to be in a fight [and] he never did anything about it,” Lozano wrote on Facebook, before adding: “this is not right”.
She also claims that she has been trying to contact authorities about the incident, but none of them will return her calls.
However, other students have alleged that Michael was the one who started the fight, and the school have described the incident as a “mutual altercation”.
The district in charge of Resnik Middle School released a statement to clarify their stance on this, and said that an investigation into the matter was ongoing:
“On Thursday, January 25, around 3 pm, two students engaged in a mutual altercation that was immediately intervened by an SWISD police officer.
Due to FERPA, we cannot disclose disciplinary actions taken against the students, but we can say both parties did comply with the officer’s directives.
We are continuing to investigate the incident. We take student safety very seriously and monitor bullying and harassment reports as soon as we receive them.”
Lozano has also taken issue with some reports on the incident, and claims that some journalists are downplaying what really happened. After her son’s injuries were described as “minor”, she shared an article on Facebook, saying: “If you call possible having a broken nose and having Trouble breathing not wanting to eat or sleep having depression fearing for his life waking up in the middle of the night Screaming and scared MINOR.. THIS IS NOTHING MINOR”.
Michael apparently has ADHD, and also suffers from anxiety and depression. Since the fight, his mood has worsened, and he now struggles to eat and sleep.
While the school continues to get to the bottom of the matter, Lozano has one clear message for everyone: bullying is completely unacceptable, and disagreements at school should never lead to an altercation as violent as this.