One after another, students and their parents spoke out with the same message: stop the bullying.
"I've been pushed. I've been shoved. I've been called ugly." said one student.
"These kids are crying out for help," said Luis Leon, the father of another child.
They say the bullying is out of control at Hernando County schools and that the district isn't doing enough to prevent it. Just a few weeks ago, 12-year-old Miguel Rodriguez, a 7th grader at West Hernando Middle School, committed suicide after months of what his family and friends say was constant bullying.
"These kids are so afraid to speak up and it took something like this, a child to take his own life to make it come to light for a lot of people," said Robyn Hartman of Bully Police Florida.
"They don't feel like they have a place to go. They're either scared to tell someone and that other children will come back and bully them," said Adabel Velez, whose son was bullied last year in school.
"His eye got busted up. His lip was busted up by a kid who hit him from behind. The kid got suspended but I couldn't press charges because my son had his hands up trying to push him off. They considered it fighting back," he continued.
"It would make me feel like it was no use trying to do anything. It would get me so frustrated," said Velez's son, Gustavo.
Many parents say students who are being bullied, especially in middle and elementary school, need teachers and administrators to step in and take action immediately. Hernando's superintendent says schools and parents need to work together closely to come up with solutions.
Many here agree.
"A kid getting pushed, literally knocked to the ground. You would think someone would speak up and say 'hey, don't do that' because that's a form of bullying. But no one is doing that," Hartman said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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