RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A 12-year-old boy sets off a gun accidentally after he brought it to school in a backpack and showed it to a classmate, according to investigators.
Another 12-year-old says bullies are grabbing his groin as he walks by, to intimidate him, and being told to kill himself.
The first incident happened yesterday at Loma Vista Middle School in Riverside where, luckily, no one was injured. The alleged sexual battery was first reported late last year at Wells Middle School, barely two miles from Loma Vista.
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The small, shy boy spoke to us about the incidents, telling us he has even been told to kill himself by other students.
His mother says she tried letting him go back in January, but just had to pull him out again because he is having a difficult time.
"What is going on with kids since they got back from the COVID Pandemic?" says one parent picking up his child after school.
Riverside police confirm that their School Resource Officers are dealing with more fights and other types of incidents.
"The students have been on social media for the last two years," says Officer Ryan Railsback.
Now, we throw them all back together and some are dealing with it better than others, he explains.
Officials at Alvord Unified School District, which both schools belong to, sent us a written statement :
"The District prioritizes student health and safety. The District takes all complaints of sexual assault, bullying, and harassment seriously. Further, the District investigates all allegations of sexual assault, bullying, and harassment and takes appropriate corrective action. Please understand that student matters are confidential. We cannot discuss student-related matters with any member of the public or media."
With Superintendent Allan J Mucerio, adding this note:
"I think it is fair to say that the pandemic has impacted student behaviors in both good and bad ways. We have observed many students showing incredible strength and resilience in overcoming obstacles and challenges. As well as students struggling to find their way. We are proud of our students and their families and continue to work together in the interest of positive student outcomes."
Riverside PD does have programs for families having issues with their juveniles. They did before the pandemic, but are trying to get parents involved before situations get out of hand.
"We want the kids to understand there are consequences," adds Officer Railsback. "Good and bad, nothing good can come from bringing a gun to school, for example."
If parents are having issues with the juveniles, schools do have the resources, and they can always look at the Riverside Police website because we also have programs to try and help. Keep in mind that Riverside PD did not reduce their School Resource Officers, like other departments had to do, after protests demanding defunding of law enforcement agencies.
To be fair, I have been covering this type of story, after COVID-19 in other school districts. The issue will surely be the focus of studies on the effects of quarantine on teenagers as schools and families negotiate a return to the new normal that we all find ourselves in.
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