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Bullying without a name

OULIMATA BA Special to the AmNews | 6/27/2012, 3:51 p.m.
Suicide puts spotlight on bullying in the 'hood

Itea Davis, 16, doesn't know why she was attacked.

It started when two girls began throwing food at her in the cafeteria one day. The next day, both girls attacked Davis at a corner store. One came from behind and hit Davis in the back of the head.

"I turned around and hit her back and we started fighting," Davis said. "My two friends jumped in. I was asking people to call 911. People were just standing there watching. I ran back to the school; I was crying and I saying, 'Call my mother, I just got jumped.'"

The U.S. Department of Justice's statistics show that one out of every four kids will be bullied sometime during their adolescence.

The reasons for bullying among Black kids are countless. "Kids could be bullied because their biological parents are not in the home," said Dr. Jeff Gardere, a psychologist and professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. "They could be bullied for doing well in school; we still have the idea of that being 'white.' They could be bullied due to their appearance, which could be because of racial factors. It's a whole range of things."

For all of these reasons, there is an innumerable population of junior-to-high school-aged kids who are not only being bullied but, like Davis, are also physically attacked.

Alexis Camacho, 13, was at a school assembly when she noticed a group of six or seven girls looking and pointing at her. Camacho did not know the girls but says she met them when the group then approached her at lunchtime.

"They were asking, 'Why were you looking at my friend this way' and why did I give them a dirty look," said Camacho, who lives in the Bronx. "I wasn't looking at their friend. I honestly felt they wanted to jump me. I felt threatened by them. I wanted to leave the school."

Camacho's mother, Tamika Camacho, took her out of school as soon as she learned what happened.

"I was jumped by guys and girls in school in the seventh grade," she said. "I was scared that the same thing was going to happen to her, and I didn't want that." The incident at Camacho's school happened last November and she's been homeschooled ever since

Willie Davis, Itea Davis' father, says bullying for no reason is not so unusual.

"It could be because of the way you look, because of the way you dress, just because of who you are as a person," said Davis, founder of the anti-bullying campaign Project Speak Up Now. He started the campaign after his daughter was attacked.

"Kids are brutal--they have no conscience," Davis said. "It's a lot of immature little stuff that kids just take to heart."

Thirteen-year-old Osaretin, who did not want to give her last name, said she's facing threats from a girl she was pressured to "play fight" with last year. Though she didn't want to fight in the first place, Osaretin feels it might come to that again.

"It's kind of childish and immature, but at the same time she's been bothering me," she said.

Though these cases describe violence against young girls, statistics show that males are more likely to experience physical or verbal bullying, according to bullyingstatistics.com.

But when bullying of young girls, especially young Black and Latina girls, does occur, it often goes unreported. The girls are left not knowing how to avoid bullying.

"I don't like to fight. I think it's wrong," Davis said. "We should be able to talk like young women. But I guess you can't do that nowadays, you have to use violence."