O'burg Co. fight highlights need to prevent bullying in schools

Published: Oct. 26, 2010 at 10:06 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2010 at 10:36 PM EDT
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By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - About 300 school leaders met in Columbia on Tuesday to talk about ways to tackle the problem of bullying head-on. The South Carolina Bullying Prevention Initiative is taking a closer look at ways to prevent bullying.     
as part of a pilot program, students will be asked to fill out questionnaires about their experiences. From there, schools with the most serious problems will be identified and focus will be placed on turning things around.

A case in Orangeburg County highlights the seriousness of the issue. A student at Edisto high school was hit in the mouth so hard, he had to have surgery. "I had two concussions on my forehead and he knocked my teeth back," said 15-year-old Jeremiah Hughey.

Those injuries were caused by a fight Hughey's family says happened because of a bully. The day started like most. "I got up, washed my face, brushed my teeth, got dressed and said goodbye to my mom," said Hughey.

The Edisto High School freshman walked to school that morning and went through two classes, but the day took a turn at lunch. Jeremiah says a group of students led by someone with whom he used to be friends started to ridicule him about a rap group.
Hughey says he ignored it, but then one of the boys asked if he wanted to fight. Jeremiah says he walked away and went to his last two classes.

After the final school bell, Jeremiah says he went to the bathroom. That's when the fight started. "Somebody got my head and slammed my head into the wall," said Hughey. "I got turned around and they hit me and I got down and they started hitting me in the head."

His mom, Marie Blake, got a terrifying call at work. She couldn't believe what she saw when she got to the school. "He kept spitting blood, he kept spitting blood," said Blake.

At the hospital, Jeremiah had to have surgery to reconstruct what a punch destroyed. He will have to have more, and for now, he can't eat solid foods. A metal wire is holding his teeth in place. "It has turned my world upside down," said Blake.

Statement from Edisto High School Principal Dr. David Damm:

This was an after-school incident that happened in a boy's restroom.  The victim was struck in the mouth by another student.  It was the result of a conflict that began during lunch earlier in the day.  Neither boy, or any student, brought the lunch conflict to the attention of administration.  Not sure what the boys were discussing at lunch, I was told by one of the students involved that they were arguing about who had the best band.  Both boys admitted to being least they were friends at one time.  The victim went in to the restroom after class, was seen by the other student who followed him in.  As he turned around to exit the restroom, a fight began, ending with a vicious punch to the mouth of the victim.  The fight was over very quickly.  The student who threw the damaging punch left the scene immediately, riding the bus home.  The victim was found by a teacher immediately after the fight as he exited the restroom with blood coming from his mouth.  He was taken to the school nurse and then released to his mother.

The victim suggested someone else might have kicked him during the incident.  We investigated this thoroughly and found no evidence of anyone else being involved, though others were in the restroom at the time of the fight.  It has also been suggested that a student/students took pictures of the fight.  We have found no evidence of this either.  A teacher did photograph the damage to the teeth to document the injury.

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