Opponents of bullying hold streetside rally

Protestors at the Stop the Bullying Rally in Valencia hold signs and lead chants, March 21, 2019. Austin Dave / The Signal.
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Yelling chants and holding signs, dozens of Santa Clarita parents, students and their supporters held a streetside rally against bullying Thursday.

Event organizers say their motive was to see the laws that protect alleged bullies changed and that the Zero Tolerance policy within the state and school districts be reinstated.

Mia Francovich, a Santa Clarita resident who says her son was a victim of bullying himself, organized the rally through a Facebook group named “Enough is Enough.”

Bob Rader leads a chant at a rally focused on bringing an end to bullying in Santa Clarita. Austin Dave/The Signal

“I saw it on the SCV emergency page and saw so many parents had so many bullying stories and, so, I said, ‘Parents, what are we going to do? Let’s get up and do something,’” said Francovich, as she held a sign that read “Zero Tolerance for Bullying.” “Zero Tolerance for bullying would be awesome … we’re just tired of it, honestly.”

The Facebook group was reportedly created, and reached international membership, after the viral story of Bob and Norma R.’s daughter, a Hart High sophomore who says she’s been the victim of intense harassment and bullying this past school year.

“We got about 300 members in the Facebook group, and the story has gained the interest of people in British Columbia. A couple local council members are now getting involved,” said Bob R. during the rally. “We’re going to do it with the schools and not against the schools, because we’re trying to bring more awareness to bullying.”

“It’s being heard, and it’s being heard loudly,” said Norma R., who added she’s heard from national anti-bullying organizations, supporters in Australia and families in South America who have all seen her daughter’s story.

Baylee Carter, 8, leads a chant at a rally focused on bringing an end to bullying in Santa Clarita. Caleb Lunetta/The Signal

Francovich’s son, Johnny Sutton, was there holding up a sign, because he says that not enough was done after he was hurt by a boy in his grade who told him he had to fight him. A few months later that same boy, according to Sutton, then told him, “If I had a gun right now, I’d shoot you.”

“It made me feel bad … I basically had no choice (because) they were going to hurt me either way,” said Sutton, a 10-year-old student in the Newhall School District. “The campus supervisors let him off with a warning. They leave people off with warnings before they do anything serious.”

Bob and Norma’s daughter, Nikki, says the William S. Hart Union High School District has been communicating with her family, but that they still aren’t certain if any action has yet been taken to ensure her safety.

“We are taking it very seriously. Every time there is something like this we investigate fully and there’s nothing more I can really say about that,” Dave Caldwell, spokesman for the school district, said on Thursday.

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