VANCOUVER, Wash. - The Vancouver school that saw a student take her own life about two weeks ago is now seeing a spike in reports of bullying.
Eden Wormer, 14, was a student at Cascade Middle School in the Evergreen School District. Her family said she killed herself after being bullied for two years.
Another family told KATU News that a kid threatened their son at the school Tuesday with a knife and that the bullying has gone on for two years. They said school leaders have done little about it.
The family has gone to the school to review surveillance video with the security team.
The district's risk and safety manager, Scott Deutsch, said part of their challenge as administrators is figuring out what constitutes bullying or harassment versus something they call peer conflict.
"When you look at peer conflict it might be two kids that are arguing over a piece of property or they might be arguing over a relationship and what you're looking at is, are the kids balanced and is this a one-time occurrence?" Deutsch said.
He said the district defines bullying by looking at three things: whether harm has occurred; whether that behavior has been or will be repeated, and whether there is an unfair match between the person doing the behavior and the person’s intended target – whether there is a power imbalance.
That imbalance could be anything from physical difference like a bigger kid picking on a smaller one or a kid picking on someone with autism or some other disability. It could even be just a social imbalance of a popular kid picking on an unpopular one.
Deutsch said school officials will talk with the child being targeted, interview any witnesses and gather evidence to determine if bullying is occurring.
These days the bullying can go beyond the classroom and the school’s hallways. It’s often something that someone writes on a Facebook page.
"We try to get our hands on any of the social media paperwork that goes with any of the bullying that's going on because just as quickly as that information is posted that information can be removed, and once it's removed, it's hard to get," Deutsch said.
According to statistics from the district, in just two school years, the district issued 672 suspensions and expelled 76 kids because of bullying.
Evergreen School District student behavior reports: