A young child’s humble plea to Santa Claus spurred by a bullying situation at Rocky Mount Preparatory School has drawn the attention of thousands of readers nationwide after hitting CNN.com on Monday.
Karen Suffern, a single mother of 8-year-old twins at Rocky Mount Prep, recently read a letter written by her son, Ryan, and addressed to Santa.
“I wanted a (remote control) car and helicopter but I don’t want that anymor. Kid at school are still picking on Amber and its not fair because she doesnt do anything to them at all,” Ryan’s letter read. “It makes me mad I prayed that they will stop but god is bisy and needs your help. Is it against the rules to give gift early?”
Ryan’s sister, Amber, has repeatedly been subjected to name-calling and teasing from classmates due to her being overweight and multiracial, and Ryan was able to witness the abuse firsthand this year as the siblings were paired up in the same third-grade classes, the CNN report stated.
Once Suffern read her son’s letter to Santa Claus, the mother reportedly was alerted to the severity of her daughter’s situation and shared the letter online with friends and via Facebook.
The Sufferns’ story hit a nerve and spread across the country, eventually getting published on several media websites. After being catapulted into the national spotlight, Rocky Mount Preparatory School responded Monday with a statement indicating school officials have immediately addressed the bullying incidents Amber has experienced.
“Our administrators and teachers began working together during the day to ensure that we take care of these students and all of our students,” said Doug Haynes, the charter school’s chief executive officer. “Later (Monday) afternoon, we learned (the bullying incident) had made national news. As school leadership, we want everyone to know that we take these types of allegations affecting our scholars very seriously.”
In the prepared statement, Haynes said school officials at Rocky Mount Prep are “hyper-vigilant” to prevent, intervene and protect students from bullying instances such as that of Amber’s.
“We are saddened that this has taken place within our school family, and we can assure all of our parents, scholars and community that we will continue to do everything possible to provide them with a positive and safe learning environment,” Haynes said.
Haynes invited the public to contact either him, any of the school’s principals or Rocky Mount Preparatory School Chief Operations Officer Karen Bergman with any concerns or questions.
While Ryan and Amber both attend Rocky Mount Prep, the original story posted to CNN’s website stated the children attended Rocky Mount Academy.
While the story was corrected late Monday, Rocky Mount Academy Head of School Beth Covolo said many media outlets that picked up the story have not corrected it.
In a prepared statement to parents of RMA students, Covolo said school officials are managing the situation as best they can by responding quickly to those expressing their outrage via email and social media sites.
“More importantly, this is a good time for everyone in our community to focus on the devastating impact that social bullying can have and what each of us in our community can do to create nurturing environments in our homes and schools,” Covolo concluded.