A group of parents is meeting every week in Carthage's Municipal Park to address a problem that may be as old as schools themselves — bullying.

A group of parents is meeting every week in Carthage's Municipal Park to address a problem that may be as old as schools themselves — bullying.
About 18 parents and more than a dozen children were on hand last Saturday to talk about steps to help children who are being bullied in area schools, and even reach out to the children doing the bullying.
Kim House, a former teacher in the Carthage school district, said she created the Facebook page "Stand Up to Bullying" as an outlet for children and parents to try to find ways to deal with bullying.
"Our group is here to do what we can to prevent children from being hurt and to prevent childrens suicide because of bullying," House said. "It just breaks my heart the number of children we're losing because of bullying, because they see no way out. In fact, I've seen and heard of kids that just say I'd rather just kill myself than let them do it to me. There's got to be something we can do, there has to be."
House said the group plans to meet at 2 p.m. every Sunday at the shelter house up the hill from the Jasper County Youth Fair Grounds in Municipal Park to share ideas and encouragement.
They held their last meeting on Saturday because of the Easter holiday, and it attracted parents from Carthage' Carterville, Jasper, Webb City and other communities around the area.
House said she was inspired to start having these meetings and form this group when a friend from school, Anita Demery, went public with the story of her 14-year-old son, Brett, who was badly beaten by students while waiting for the school bus at a Carterville bus stop.
Parents and others gathered for a rally for Brett Demery, who was at Saturday's meeting with his mother, at that same bus stop on April 7.
"He's had surgery and he's probably going to have to have more surgeries to repair what was done to him by a bully," House said. "My roommate, Laura Still, she said we've got to do something, so I started a page, it is Stand up to Bullying/KimHouse1965."
Jennifer York, a parent of a Jasper Junior High Student, said her daughter has been bullied and it's tough to take as a parent.
"You get texts during the day saying please mom, get me out of school today, please let me go home," York said as her daughter, Darian, sat next to her. "She gets sick in the morning, it's hard for her, and these are supposed to be the best years of their lives because they haven't stepped out into the real world yet. I want them to enjoy their high school days."
Shara Camerena-Bryant, parent of a Carthage Junior High student, said her son, Enrique, 14, has also been bullied in school.
"This started when football started last fall," Camarena-Bryant said. "I didn't know anything about it. He told a friend he was going to commit suicide because of the bullying. The friend went home and told her parents, her parents called the school, which I'm very thankful for, I had no idea. The counselor then pulled him in the office and he denied the whole thing because I got called up there. When he came home from school, he went to a friends house. His sister is the one who got it out of him that he wanted to kill himself. He didn't want to live anymore because he was being bullied on a consistant basis."
Camarena-Bryant said she had her son hospitalized to try to help him get past the suicidal thoughts. She said she's not satisfied with the response from administrators.
Nothing is being done so whenever I found out about this group, I was like, I'm all in," Camarena-Bryant said. "I'm finding out from my son's other friends that their parents want to get involved but their kids are being bullied."
House said she plans to call the administrators of area schools and ask them to meet with parents to discuss the issue.
In the meantime, the group plans to look for ways to help the children they can reach.
"We're trying to get some help with getting some psychologists in the schools to help not only the kids that are being bullied but those that are bullies because there is a root cause why they're a bully," House said. "They don't just wake up and say 'oh, I think I'm going to be a bully today.' There is a reason for it. We need to find out what those reasons are."