NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A grandmother and mother say they’re battling the system for their middle schooler, who says she has been persistently bullied at school and online.
The student has been out of class for nearly a month waiting to see if the school system will budge on a transfer.
Natasha and Kimberly Cousins reached their breaking points when Natasha’s middle school daughter continued to face physical and emotional threats from students at Southside STEM Academy, but the problems started at the end of the summer when someone leaked a naked photo of the teen online.
“She called me while I was at work and she was crying, hysterical. And I was like, ‘What’s wrong?’ And she says, ‘Mom, come get me now. They’re trying to jump me,'” said her mother, Natasha Cousins.
Her grandmother, Kimberly Cousins, says she’s frustrated this keeps happening to the teen.
“She sent me a text and she said, ‘Granny, come get me. They’re trying to jump me,'” she said. “I’m taking off time. Her mother’s losing time because she’s stressed out mentally, physically. We’re getting her counseling. It’s unfair to her. She’s being punished for something she didn’t do.”
The teen lost her father this year and has gone into therapy after the bullying made her consider harming herself.
Her mother and grandmother say they’ve spoken to school officials countless times to hold the other students accountable, but so far nothing has changed.
“Try to encourage her every day that it’s going to be OK,” said Natasha Cousins. “I just want the best for her. I noticed her grades have failed.”
The teen hasn’t been to school in over a month as her mother and grandmother work to transfer her out of the district.
It hasn’t stopped the teens from harassing her younger brother, who still goes to school. Her family says they feel like their hands are tied.
“I want a stop to it. I just, I’m just over it. It’s just, enough is enough,” said Natasha Cousins.
10 On Your Side reached out to Norfolk Public School for comment. Read their full response below.
NPS takes seriously the health and well-being of ALL our students. We deal swiftly with violations of our student code of conduct. Building administrators work closely with our school and division-level security teams as well as the Norfolk Police Department, as needed.
We provide social and emotional support to all of our students, and recognize it as one of the top priorities of our division. Additionally, SSAC is receiving daily support from our public safety liaison and from NPS division-level leadership.
We all play a role in assuring the safety and security of our school, including our students and parents. We have asked parents for their continued support and diligence in several areas: alerting us to community concerns that may later play out in the school so that we can investigate and proactively address the concerns within our purview; discussing the appropriate use of social media with their children; reporting inappropriate content to the social media platform as well as to school administration; and reinforcing behavior expectations.
Finally, the staff and administration at SSAC strive every day to provide the best possible instructional environment for the students in our care.
SSAC offers an outstanding curriculum with a rigorous and engaging educational experience for our scholars.
We work closely with our partners at the Norfolk Police Department, and we call when necessary or work with our school security staff and student resource officers to ensure the safety and security of our schools and all who are in them.Michelle Washington, Norfolk Public Schools
Parents can contact the district in multiple ways, including their division-wide email at TellUs@nps.k12.va.us.
The district says contact information for school administrators is included on every school website, found at npsk12.com.
Anyone can report bullying on the NPS Anti-Bullying Safe Schools Hotline at (757) 628-1171 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.