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Duval County introducing bullying hotline

6:01 PM, Aug 20, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Duval County students will soon be able to pick up the phone and report their concerns anonymously.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said he has high hopes for the bullying hotline.

"Some people just pick on people because of the way they look," said 11th grader Samonna Price.

Price said she's seen bullying first hand at her school, Raines High.
And making it as easy as picking up a phone to report bullying is a step in the right direction.

Vitti agrees, admitting, he was once picked on in elementary school for being dyslexic and speaking Spanish, Italian and English. Dr. Vitti said he was teased for having trouble reading in class.

He's now backing a brand new bullying hotline for Duval County schools. It's an additional outreach for students.

"We do recognize sometimes there's a level of discomfort or lack of follow up on the school site. So this is just another layer of support," he said.

Dr. Vitti said bullying in schools is a problem nationwide. A chilling fight in July, on a school bus in Gulfport, Florida, recently put a spotlight on the problem.

A 13-year-old boy was kicked and punched repeatedly by three 15-year-olds. It outraged parents virtually everywhere and sparked action.

Duval County Public Schools is encouraging students to pick up the phone and reach out for help before things escalate.

The new bullying hotline is expected to be up and running in about two weeks. Vitti said right now, they're looking for the right person to run the program.

Price is on-board, saying she knows ho to stand up for herself, but recognizes that not everyone can.

There are other resources in each school to help students report acts of bullying. The bullying hotline number is (904) 390-2043. There are also online forms that can be filled out anonymously. Click here for links to those forms.

First Coast News

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