Updated: Wednesday, 26 May 2010, 11:12 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 26 May 2010, 6:16 PM EDT
West Haven, Connecticut (WTNH) - School bullying is an all too common problem and one West Haven family says it is plaguing them. They say bullies who targeted their daughter went too far.
News 8 talked to Dr. Young Shin Kim at the Yale Child Study Center. The doctor is an expert on bullying and she says now more than ever bullying can quickly get out of control, thanks to social media and portable phones. And how schools and parents respond can have long term consequences.
13-year old Ana Spehar is out of the hospital and back at St. Lawrence School in West Haven. She says it’s a place where -- just a few weeks ago -- she could no longer bear to be.
"I had gotten some really nasty things said about me,” Ana said.
Her mother and stepfather say this once confident, popular, high-achieving 8th grade girl was becoming quiet and withdrawn.
What started at school, they say, was continuing and escalating after dismissal through text messages and online.
"It really takes a blow to your self-esteem,” Ana continued. “Because, I mean, when you have a bunch of people against you, just telling you what's wrong with you all the time, and that's all you see about yourself."
After awhile, she started to believe it.
John, Ana’s stepfather, explained,” We had made several calls to the principal, several calls to the archdiocese of Hartford, and it was summarily dismissed until there was a significant problem. Ana was hospitalized over this."
The Spehars are talking to News 8 because they don't want any other families to go through what they've gone through. And they say schools -- and parents -- need to see bullying for the danger that it is.
"Parents should be made aware. If there are going to be peanuts served at school, a note would go home in everybody's backpack,” Ana’s mother added. “When there was a bus accident, there was a phone call to every parent. What happened to Ana is terrible and nobody wants to talk about it."
In this case, Ana’s parents say St. Lawrence -- and some of its families -- did not live up to the higher standards they claim to uphold.
"One would think that when you put together education and religion, that only the best parts of the religious aspect would come through; turning the other cheek, being kind, being gentle, forgiving, and protecting the weak, as it were. And I can't say that's happened here,” Ana’s stepfather John continued.
The principal of St. Lawrence School, Paul DeFonzo, did give New 8 a lengthy response.
He says, quote, "It is our understanding that much of the claimed activity occurred via electronic media, including the internet."
He goes on to say, "We anticipate that we will talk to parents, students and others. Keeping in mind our obligation to all students, we will determine a course of action that will be designed to ensure student safety, and prevent any future incidents of bullying."
Click here to read St. Lawrence School's full statement release on May 26th.