Current and former students demand change in light of alleged bullying in Wooster schools

The effort was spearheaded by a recent graduate who says her cousin is being bullied at a local middle school.
Updated: Jan. 17, 2020 at 6:21 PM EST
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WOOSTER, Ohio (WOIO) - A recent high school graduate is taking a stand against bullying in schools.

Makayla Williams, who now attends Bowling Green State University, is spearheading the effort after going through her own troubles in school.

She says she was bullied while attending schools in the Wooster City School District.

“There were a lot of comments about my weight, my appearance and things of that nature,” she says, adding that she was also picked on because of a knee condition that left her wearing braces.

Now, she says she’s fighting back in defense of her 12-year-old cousin.

“She, like myself has gotten comments about her weight as well as her general appearance. There have been sexual comments that have made by students.”

Williams says this has all happened at Edgewood Middle School in Wooster.

Fed up by what she described as inaction, Williams organized a rally outside district headquarters.

Students, family members and parents gathered to share their own personal stories, in some cases tragic stories of lives cut short.

They blame bullying.

The group is now pushing back and demanding action and answers from the district.

Wooster Superintendent Michael Tefs e-mailed the following statement to 19 News:

We are absolutely heartbroken whenever a student or family feels the pain of mean, rude, hurtful acts or worse, bullying. Research shows that bullying can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety and can negatively impact their ability to learn. The best way to address bullying is to stop it before it starts. In an effort to prevent bullying, our schools are wonderfully proactive with anti-bullying and social-emotional curriculum, programming, and counseling. We base our responses and interventions on this protocol.

As superintendent, I am so very proud of our teachers, administrators, and students for embracing a culture of kindness, equity, and empathy. Our schools’ do, unfortunately, have to process hurtful behavior and we applaud any group or organization for lifting-up these issues and shining a light on the effects of bullying and unkind behavior.

Williams hopes the support from the community, and a willingness to share their personal stories, will prompt change.

“Quiet people seldom make history,” she says. “I sincerely hope that everyone takes away that having a voice is what’s going to change things.”

19 News launched its 2 Strong 4 Bullies initiative to help people faced with this growing problem.

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