Student's father out of solutions on bullying issue

Student's father out of solutions on bullying issue
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Seventh-grade student Katrina Villali said Feb. 24 of this year was one of the worst days of her life.

"I turned around, and that's when she started hitting me, and then we started fighting, and then they got me on the ground, and then everybody started jumping in," described Katrina.

Katrina said she was jumped and beaten by seven of her peers at Curran Middle School. Her father, Melvin Villali, said Katrina's injuries were so bad, she had to be checked out by medical staff at San Joaquin Community Hospital. Katrina said she didn't do anything to provoke a fight with her classmates.

"You know, it's emotionally hurting to her and myself, and I just don't think it's right," the concerned father said. "Something needs to be done."

Melvin Villali told Eyewitness News that he's already filed a report with the Bakersfield City School District and the Kern County Sheriff's Office. He said he's hit a wall and doesn't know where else to turn for help.

"I just don't want anything else to happen to her, to be honest," said Melvin.

The Villali's story is one shared amongst many families across the country. The film "Bully," released in the Bakersfield area last Friday, illustrates the harsh realities that students like Katrina face everyday.

Eyewitness News went to find out who's responsible for ending the bullying epidemic.

Brad Barnes, the president of the Bakersfield Elementary Teachers Association said, "Well, it's everybody's responsibility. It is the school's responsibility, it's the teacher's responsibility, it's the parent's, and it's also the responsibility of the peers."

The Bakersfield City School District said it can't comment on any specific case. The Kern County Sheriff's Office did not return the Eyewitness News calls.

Barnes suggests some solutions that parents can use to battle bullying.

"There's a website called www.stopbullying.gov, and it is somewhere where parents can get information about bullying and a lot of information on how to be proactive and how to reduce bullying in the schools and in the community," said Barnes.

Barnes said that documentary films like "Bully" can be a tool to raise awareness about bullying, too. Melvin Villali said he's going to take Katrina and his other three children to watch the movie.

"Oh, I'm definitely gonna take them to watch it. They'll probably get some experience from it, you know, whether it's positive or negative," the father said.

But, Melvin Villali said the biggest tool he can teach his children to end bullying is to show each other respect.