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Claremont families take stand against bullying

Union Leader Correspondent

October 05. 2017 11:52PM
Markita Miller, 31, of Claremont says bullying continues to be an issue in schools. (Meghan Pierce/Union Leader Correspondent)

Tyler Miller, 11, of Claremont, stands against bullying in Broad Street Park in Claremont Thursday afternoon. The middle school boy began home-schooling after an in-school bullying incident, he said. (Meghan Pierce/ Union Leader Correspondent)

CLAREMONT — A handful of people showed up Thursday in Broad Street Park to take a stand against bullying.

“Some people are like, ‘Oh, what’s the point of it, you know, it’s not like you are going to get anything across,’” said Markita Miller, 31, of Claremont. “Maybe it won’t, maybe it will — you won’t know until you try.”

Participants pointed to an alleged racially motivated incident on Aug. 28 involving an 8-year-old biracial boy and a group of teens.

Reports of the incident went from Facebook posts to the national news and triggered a police investigation and a community prayer vigil last month, as well as racial awareness events at a local church.

“Everyone around the community needs to chip in,” Miller said at Thursday’s event. “It’s our future generation.”

Miller said she grew up in Antrim, and because of racially based bullying at ConVal High School in Peterborough she dropped out of high school. A group of girls would spit at her and call her the “n” word, she said.

“It didn’t get dealt with,” she said.

The school’s solution was for her to stay away from that group of girls, she said.

The mother of three racially mixed children, Miller said her oldest son, 11-year-old Tyler, dropped out of Claremont Middle School due to bullying and is now home-schooled. She said Tyler wasn’t bullied based on his mixed race.

Initially, the anti-bullying demonstrators wanted to line Broad Street outside Stevens High School and ask students to sign their anti-bullying posters and join the demonstration as they left school Thursday afternoon. But they moved to the park down the street after online chatter and talk at Wednesday night’s School Board meeting that the group would be, in essence, bullying the school children into being against bullying.

Superintendent Dr. Middleton McGoodwin said at the meeting Wednesday he is proud of the community effort to respond to the alleged racial incident.

“Racism, bullying, however you like to describe it, they are all interconnected,” McGoodwin said. “I know working as a community we will pull through this and benefit in the long run ... There has continued to be and, rightly so, a lot of dialogue about the events of late August.”

McGoodwin has said the school plans to revamp its anti-bullying policy.

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