Mom blames school after son 'severely' bullied

March 16, 2011 4:33:38 AM PDT
A third-grade student says he has been bullied by classmates so much that he tried to hurt himself in class to prevent it.

Leonard Brown, 8, and his mother tell ABC7 they made repeated complaints to his teacher and school administrators about the incidents.

Leonard, who says he is the victim of severe bullying, attends Garfield Park Preparatory School on Chicago's West Side.

Leonard was doing well at Garfield Park Prep Elementary School. At one point, he was learning Mandarin. But when he started third grade in the fall things changed.

"They punched me in my back, calling me stupid," said Leonard.

His mother, Monica Wells, says Leonard became the target of bullies who picked on him relentlessly because of his size.

"It's very emotional and very time consuming trying to get a child to sleep at night, trying to get a child to get out of the car in the morning to go in to school, trying to get him to deal with it the proper way," Wells said.

Leonard's mother said she turned to the school's administrators for help and a plan was put in place to help him avoid his aggressors. But one official has since resigned and Wells says that plan is no longer enforced.

In the meantime, Wells says her son's bullying has continued, with no intervention from teachers and that prompted him to take a drastic step Monday in class.

"I had to take my belt and wrap it around my neck to get the teacher's attention," said Leonard.

He was taken to Children's Memorial Hospital and evaluated by therapists.

Until now, his mother wanted to keep him at Garfield Park Prep, but she says she's hoping to find a better environment for her son where bullying is not tolerated.

"I don't want him to be the average. I want him to be better than that. And it's hard to teach him not to fight, hard to teach him to hold his composure and tell someone when they're not listening," said Wells.

A Chicago Public Schools spokesperson says teasing, which can lead to bullying, is not accepted on any level and disciplinary action has been taken against Leonard's aggressors.

CPS also says the school facilitated a meeting between everyone involved to deal with the problem. Still, Wells wants to transfer her son.