Shortly after the first bell rang on Friday. Oct. 8, at Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School in Northridge — and only two hours after he had been dropped off at the school — Jorge said he was attacked and beaten by three students, causing him to seek treatment at an urgent care facility.
A school dean provided Jorge’s account of what happened to his mother. The mother said she was outraged, and had hoped to talk to the school principal to address the ongoing bullying problem there.
Neither the dean nor principal would comment about the incident since it was under investigation.
Jorge’s mother said she also filed a police report with the LAPD.
On that Friday, Jorge said he was with a friend entering the restroom when he was pinned down by three eighth-graders. They were boys from the same group he said that had been picking on him; calling him names, saying he was fat.
“I had a feeling something was going to happen,” Jorge explained, adding he had been bullied by these same boys a week before.
Older members of his family claim they had the same experience in school but because they were involved in sports, would-be bullies stayed away. They also learned to fight back.
Jorge, 12, (whose name is changed here to protect his privacy) is a seventh-grader and the youngest of three. Like many his age, he plays basketball and video games at home. He does not play any organized team sports.
He is quiet, handsome, and — at 5 feet 7 inches — is tall for his age. He says he is not a loner and has several close friends. He hopes someday to become a doctor, to “help when people are in need.”
When they called him names, Jorge said he told them to stop or he would report them to the principal’s office. He said each boy delivered two punches to his head and hit his friend in the stomach. Each time the punches seemed harder, according to Jorge.
He stayed standing but couldn’t swing back because he was pinned. The other boys stopped when they apparently heard the principal was on her way. They scattered and went back to class.
At lunchtime, the three boys were called to the principal’s office, according to Jorge’s account.
Principal Kim D’Alosio said she could not speak to the press and referred the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol newspaper to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The district issued a statement, although no specific information was provided.
“The Los Angeles Unified family strives to treat everyone with respect, kindness, and compassion at every school,” according to the statement.
“The conflict that occurred at Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School is being reviewed. The school community will continue to look at safety procedures and provide opportunities for any student impacted by the incident to discuss their perspective on how to mediate conflicts that arise, both on campus and within the community.”
Mental health professionals indicate that most bullied kids are bullied for their appearance.There are scores of tragic stories about the impact of cyberbullying that have been so vicious that some young people have sought relief by taking their own lives.
Many parents say they have chosen a magnet or charter school to avoid conflicts like Jorge’s, feeling those schools are safer than standard public schools. But for this preteen’s family, if they once believed that, they no longer think it’s true.
Instead, Jorge’s mother said, no remediation was provided nor was the family informed on how the school tries to protect students from being bullied. And D’Alosio would not discuss the incident with her at that time.
“The principal should have called the police and did not,” Jorge’s mother said. “(D’Alosio) wanted to put the kids back in school. It took the nurse to call me. She said Jorge had been beaten in the bathroom. Why weren’t these kids called to the office or separated? Why didn’t she talk to me?”
There are three things, Jorge’s mother says, that can be done to curtail bullying at Holmes.
She suggests that the school have a police presence. There had been two officers at the school; but the LAUSD board voted in February this year to eliminate school police from campuses, deciding to replace them with staff personnel trained in de-escalating disputes.The board also rejected a motion in September to reinstate the school police.
Second, the mother said, the principal should have called the police “and suspended the students who were bullying” Jorge. And finally, the families of all the boys involved should be brought into the principal’s office to address the problem.
Although many parents work, she said, they must be advised as to what is happening.
In the case of Jorge, his mother said, a police report was filed and, according to his mother, police were planning to interview the boys at the school the following Monday.
According to Jorge’s mother, a social worker at the urgent care facility advised her son on how to react when he goes back to school: Do not do anything to antagonize the situation. Do not talk about it at school and don’t stress.
Because the blows all went to his head, Jorge said he continues with headaches.
“I’m going to school,” Jorge said on Sunday, Oct. 10. “I don’t want to go. It’s going to be a bit weird.” He said he worried there would be further retaliation. After his first day, however, there was no conflict, no bullying. It was a normal day.
Meanwhile, Jorge’s family members said they would be signing him up for self-defense classes so he is ready.