Students reveal just how bad bullying can get

Michael Gooch
Michael Gooch
Robert Hogan
Robert Hogan

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

WAIANAE (HawaiiNewsNow) - A victim of bullying fights back.  She's taking a stand by taking her case to the national level and it's revealed just how miserable kids can be when they get picked on day in and day out.

As a result of the case all Waianae High School staff will have to complete harassment training to protect students from bullies.  The school's principal wasn't available to speak on camera but students said plenty about the problems.

Being white in Waianae can affect your health according to some of the students who are bullied every day.  They go out of their way to avoid walking down a certain hallway because they know they'll be bullied if they go that way for any reason, including their name.

"Gooch. I get made fun of for that too," said Michael Gooch, a junior at Waianae High School.

He's half white and half Hawaiian, but says bullies only see what makes him different.

"It can be scary.  I mean look at me I'm a scrawny white kid a prime target to pick on," said Gooch.

He stays inside whenever possible, even volunteering for more work, just to find a reason to avoid certain groups of people.

"It sounds terrible when you say it like that but I'm used to it so I stay inside when I come to school I don't go outside. I stay in classes and focus on that and soon I'll be out of here," said Gooch.

A lot of his fears stems from an incident last school year when he was robbed and threatened.

"I'm not walking home anymore. I get a ride because I'm just scared. I don't want to walk past that, and it happened right outside my school and how can I feel safe if it happens right outside my school and if people can see me in public so it's scary so I just try to avoid everywhere in Waianae," said Gooch.

He's not the only one who feels that way about bullies.  Robert and Pamela Hogan's daughter is being bullied at school as well.

"They're saying they're going to beat her up, they're not allowing her to use the stairs. Their terminology was you're a haole cockroach you don't use these stairs," said Robert Hogan. "Because of the problems (the school) has with fighting it could happen so fast she could be seriously injured or killed before anyone could get to her aid and that was our big concern if they threaten violence the next step would be to carry it out. "

Their daughter has cerebral palsy and worried for her safety.  They say they contacted the school several times and got no resolution.  Then they went to the state Department of Education and nothing.  So they contacted the United States Department of Education which is ordering the school to train all Waianae High teachers, administrators and staff racial and sexual harassment policies.

"Why should any child have to go through this?" asked Pamela Hogan.

Some students don't think the training will do much good.

"It's kind of difficult if you're getting teased because there's nothing you can do even if you tell a counselor about it you'll just be written off as a baby so it's kind of hard," said Samantha Brooks, Senior at Waianae High School.

"Maybe the students should get a lesson on harassment," said Gooch.

The students say people will never really know how bad it is until they've walked in their shoes.

So why don't they move?  It's complicated.  The Hogan's are on disability with limited income and few options and Waianae High is right next to their housing complex.  Michael Gooch was born and raised in Waianae and his mom is a substitute teacher at the school and likes the area but Michael would still love to transfer if it's allowed.

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