Has the bullying at Normandie Avenue Elementary School in South L.A. gotten so bad that kids are participating in mass suicide-mocking rituals in class?
That's what one kid on the Normandie playground tells CBS2 in a terrifying new report on a "suicide pact" that went down in class last week.
"I think it was something about the bullying, because they got all crazy..."
"... and started cutting themselves," says the young student, who is (almost just as terrifyingly) multitasking on an iPhone during the conversation.
School officials, parents and students tell the station that in the middle of class last week, some kid dislodged the razor from his or her pencil sharpener. The blade was then allegedly passed around between about a dozen 5th graders, who used it to cut themselves while the substitute teacher wasn't watching.
At least one child was reportedly sent to the hospital. (Seriously guys? While taking such a dramatic stand against bullying is almost admirable, you didn't have to give us a heart attack in the process.)
Pia Escudero, who runs LAUSD's mental-health program, brushes this off as typical elementary-school behavior.
"We see a lot of behavior that is similar to this... children seeking help," she tells CBS2. "Attention-seeking, suicide behavior -- or doing things that aren't healthy."
Eating five bags of Cheetos for lunch is one thing. Staging a Jim Jones-style mass bleed-out is another.
One parent -- whose child wasn't one of the cutters, but who is rightfully still concerned -- tells CBS2 she wishes she'd been notified by LAUSD. And so we return to the largest problem at the core of the Miramonte Elementary scandal and its aftermath: The district is putting PR over parents, keeping scary or scandalous incidents under wraps instead of launching an awareness campaign.
Normandie Elementary is located within a relatively low-income neighborhood of South L.A., near Vermont Square Park. The school's demographic is about 70 percent Latino and 30 percent black.
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Some parents complain on GreatSchools.org that they're often blown off by the principal at Normandie, or feel their kids' needs aren't being met.
Let us know: Is bullying a huge issue at this elementary school, or others within LAUSD? And are adults doing enough to prevent and address this kind of behavior?