MOBILE, Ala. (WIAT) – A video of a student being bullied at a Semmes Middle School in Mobile has resonated with millions of people who have seen it online.
Drew Breton’s older brother – who lives in Florida – got his hands on that video earlier this month and shared it on his Facebook page, where it got over three million views in a week.
The 59-second video shows Breton being hit and pushed by other students, while he tries to get away from them in the hallways of the school. The other students can be seen chasing Breton, while even more students urge them to keep hitting Breton.
Breton said he, his friend and the other boys seen in the video were teasing each other a few days prior. Breton believes he went to far when he hurled an insult at another student, who he says is the main aggressor in the video.
“I must’ve really hurt his feelings,” Drew Breton said. “But that was wrong of me, and that was wrong of him too.”
Throughout the ordeal 7th grader from mobile sticks to his story, that he never threw a punch.
“It broke my heart,” said Kimberly, Drew’s mom.
She says that not only does this footage, which never shows Breton returning any aggression, vindicate her son, it speaks to a big problem at his school.
“I felt like the environment in the school is inappropriate and that’s what needs to change,” Kimberly said. “And boys will be boys, and they’ll do these kinds of things sometimes if they think they can get away with it. If the environment was to change, this kind of thing wouldn’t happen.”
Kimberly Breton said that while her son looks forward to returning to school, she is nervous about sending him back.
“I just want the kids to be safe. That’s my bottom line,” she said.
The Bretons say there needs to be more teachers in the hallway after class – and they’re hoping the other students involved will be removed from the school.
Mobile County’s superintendent says the school board is investigating.
“There is disciplinary action that was taken,” said Superintendent Martha Peek. “Because of the legal ramifications, we don’t spell out what was done, but I hope everyone will sense in what I’m saying. It’s very serious, but we’ve got to know all of the details.”
Officials in Birmingham agree with the assessment, and think that action against one child is not enough.
“It should never happen,” said Cedric Sparks, Birmingham’s executive director of youth services.
Sparks thinks that everyone plays a role in fighting back against bullying.
“It’s not just limited to a parent and a child. It should be — the conversation should be community driven,” Sparks said. “That cannot be the norm to, one, watch that happening; to two, be the recipient of it; three to do it.”
Sparks said that while bullying often takes place on social media, in some cases, like this one, social media has been a helpful tool in putting an end to bullying.
“There can be some social shaming that comes along with reporting (incidents of bullying),” Sparks said. “Teachers, schools, should make sure children know that there’s a safe place to report when something is being done to you.”
The City of Birmingham’s Division of Youth Services has a “KnowBull” campaign to help combat bullying. For more information on the program, visit bhamyouthfirst.org or call (205) 320-0879.