Teen’s Suicide Changed How Texas Schools Handle Bullying: ‘We Need To Be Able To Measure The Impact’


YEAR-OLD MAN AND POLICE SAID HE HAD THREE YOUNG CHILDREN IN HIS CAR. THEY STOPPED HIM AFTER HE WENT THE WRONG WAY ON A HIGHWAY. WITH STUDENTS BACK IN SCHOOL ACROSS NORTH TEXAS THERE IS A PUSH FOR THE STATE TO TRACK SOMETHING THAT CAN HAPPEN IN ANY SCHOOL DISTRICT OR ANY SCHOOL FOR THAT MATTER. OUR REPORTER EXPLAINS WHAT TEXAS IS NOT TRACKING BULLYING LIKE OTHER STATES. Reporter: THESE DAYS BULLYING IS UNAVOIDABLE. WITH SOCIAL MEDIA KIDS CAN BECOME TARGETS ANYWHERE AT ANY TIME. SO SOME WANT TO KNOW HOW THE STATE CAN ADDRESS ESTATE BULLYING PROBLEM IF THEY DON’T KNOW THAT DEPTH OF IT. Reporter: FROM A YOUNG AGE ELLA MORROW KNEW THAT SHE WANTED TO ACT. BUT THE SAME PASSION MADE HER A TARGET. THEY COULD TELL THAT I WAS PASSIONATE AND CONFIDENT ABOUT WHAT I WANTED TO DO IN LIFE. THEY GOT TO THE POINT TO WHERE I DIDN’T EVEN LIKE ACTING. Reporter: IT STARTED IN FOURTH GRADE AND LASTED YEARS. ELLA SAID THE BULLYING GOT SO BAD THAT SHE HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO LEAVE. IT WAS EVERY SINGLE DAY AND I WOULD JUST CRY, CRY, AND CRY. Reporter: IN SIXTH GRADE SHE TRANSFERRED TO A VIRTUAL SCHOOL. WHILE HER STORY IS TROUBLING IT IS NOT UNIQUE. I THINK DAVID, WHY DID YOU NOT TELL ME? WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL US ABOUT EVERYTHING? Reporter: MAUREEN MALEC — 75 DESCRIBES HER TEENAGE IS LOVING BUT HE BECAME THE VICTIM OF CYBER BULLYING AND IN 2016 DAVID MOLAK TOOK HIS LIFE . THAT WAS THE HARDEST TIME OF MY ENTIRE LIFE TO SEE HIM GOING THROUGH THAT. Reporter: HIS DEATH TRANSFORMS HOW BULLYING WAS HANDLED IN TEXAS. FOR YEAR SCHOOLS CAN ONLY INVESTIGATE INCIDENTS THAT HAPPENED ON CAMPUS AND ESSENTIALLY EXCLUDING CYBER BULLYING. THAT CHANGED WITH DAVID’S LAW. WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT REACH OUT TO US ALL OF THE TIME AND SAID THAT DAVID’S LAW SAVED THEIR CHILD’S LIFE. Reporter: IN 2017 DAVID’S ALL CRIMINALIZED CYBER BULLYING AND REQUIRED EVERY DISTRICT TO CREATE AN ANONYMOUS REPORTING SYSTEM FOR BULLYING AND OTHER THREATS. THERE IS ONE ENTITY THAT WILL NOT SEE THESE NUMBERS. THE TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY. IS THE STATE DOING ENOUGH TO PREVENT BULLYING? WE CAN ALWAYS DO BETTER. Reporter: BYLAW AT LEAST 28 STATES REQUIRE SCHOOLS TO REPORT THE NUMBER OF BULLYING INCIDENTS TO THE TOP AGENCY AND TEXAS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. IN FACT EFFORTS TO MANDATE REPORTING DIED IN THE LEGISLATURE LAST SESSION. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A REPORTING TOOL OUT THERE AND YOU DON’T KNOW THE MAGNITUDE OF IT, HOW DO YOU KNOW IF IT IS WORKING AND HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY KIDS ARE IMPACTED BY IT? Reporter: SO THEY CRUSHED OUR OWN DATA. SINCE 2000 1731 DISTRICTS IN DFW RECEIVED MORE THAN 8100 REPORTS. TO THINK INCIDENTS OF BULLYING WAS THWARTED BECAUSE OF THE SITE? ABSOLUTELY. Reporter: WITH JUST OVER 2000 STUDENTS VENUS ISD IS ONE OF THE SMALLEST SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN DFW. BUT SINCE 2017 THEY HAVE RECEIVED 217 REPORTS TO THEIR ANONYMOUS SYSTEM, AND ALMOST HALF OF THEM DEALT SPECIFICALLY WITH BULLYING. I DON’T THINK THAT WE HAVE ANY MORE OF A PROBLEM HERE THAN ANYWHERE ELSE, BUT IF WE DO, WE WILL ADDRESS IT AND CALL IT WHAT IT IS. Reporter: AFTER LOSING DAVID SHE VOWED TO HELP OTHERS. SHE RUNS THE DAVID’S LEGACY FOUNDATION WHICH ENDS TO END CYBER BULLYING. BUT SHE SAID DESPITE THE WORK IS NEVER FINISHED. WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO MEASURE THE IMPACT OF IT. Reporter: SHE SAID IF CURRENT LAWS DO NOT ADDRESS THE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS BETWEEN THE DISTRICT AND THE STATE SHE PLANS ON GOING BACK TO THE LEGISLATURE TO PUSH FOR CHANGE. IF YOU WANT TO SEE HOW MANY INCIDENTS WAS REPORTED TO YOUR DISTRICT WE CREATED AN INTERACTIVE MAP AND YOU CAN FIND THAT ON OUR WEBSITE AT WWW.DFW.LOCAL.COM. NEVER ARGUED KEEPING HER KIDS AS SAFE AS WE CAN. WHEN UNIQUE CONSUMER JUSTICE