WHITEWATER, KAN. -- In the past few months at Remington Middle School, eighth grader Bret Bookless says he's been bullied on an almost daily basis. Often the bullying has been physical, he says.
"Usually it happens in the halls or at P.E.," Bookless said.
He's not alone.
Justin Lago and other students at the school say it's happened to them, too.
But they say, they when they voice their concerns to school leaders, it falls on deaf ears.
"They handed out bracelets that say, 'Stand up and Speak up.' That's what I've been doing but nobody has been paying attention," Lago said.
Their parents say they and about 15 other families feel the same way.
"I feel very helpless," mother Melissa Welch said. "They should feel safe. They're there to learn and have a good social experience."
The parents say they've either talked to the building principal or district superintendent, in some cases both.
"At first it seemed like something might get done and then after that it was just a few sentences here and there that they 'would look into it,'" Bret's father, Jim Ellis said. "After you've got so many people that have told you something is happening, you need to stop looking into it and start doing something about it."
It's something parents across Kansas tell us they're facing.
KAKE News has received numerous messages recently from parents who say their kids are being bullied at Kansas schools. Many of the parents say they've voiced concerns to administrators but don't feel they're being heard.
Whitewater is an example of a community where some parents say they're children are confronted with bullying.
"Our kids need to know they can go to school, learn and not have to worry about issues like that," Ellis said.
Remington School District Superintendent, James Regier, says he cannot comment on any specific case or student.
The school district does put teachers through bullying prevention training, Regier said. The school district does have an anti-bullying policy, but it is not a "zero tolerance" policy, Regier said.
If the district deems a student is bullying other students, punishment is determined by the kind of infraction, Regier said.
He says if parents or students feel there is bullying going on, their first step should be to contact the school building principal. He says it's best to schedule an in-person meeting to allow for better communication. If the issue can't be resolved at that level, parents should then contact the superintendent. If they still feel as though the issue still hasn't been resolved, they should contact the school board, Regier said.
The parents and students who contacted KAKE News hope that by speaking out, it will spark change.
"I hope they fix it and make the school a better place," Bookless said.
Many parents whose children tell them they are being bullied find themselves in a very emotionally-charged situation that can feel overwhelming.
"When you are the parent of a child being bullied it's a very difficult situation to be in," said Pamela Noble, Special Events Manager for Kansas Children's Services League. "Because this is your child and it's hard to be objective especially when they are hurting.
Noble and others who specialize in working with children and families say it's first important to really listen to your child's concerns about bullying.
"(Parents) should take good notes when they are having a conversation with their children," Noble said.
For example, if a parent has a child who is being bullied on a cell phone or on a computer, take a "screen shot" of the messages and keep them on file.
With a clear picture of the problem in mind, she says parents will be better-equipped to speak with school leaders.
"When you go into the school, you need to go in calmly and professionally. We as parents have to model the behavior ourselves we want the children to model," Noble said. "When parents react and are out of control it does make it harder for schools to solve problems."
Parents may be tempted to confront the parents of the bullies. But she says that isn't a good idea because of the emotions involved. She says to utilize the channels available through the school district.
But if parents and students feel they are coming up against a wall, there are further resources on the Kansas Children's Service League web site. Those resources include an online bullying prevention course.
The organization also has a 24/7 bullying prevention hotline that parents, students, or anybody else can call with questions or concerns. The phones are answered by staff or highly-trained volunteers, Noble said. The hotline can be reached by dialing 1-800-332-6378.
Noble says the key is to support your children and validate their concerns because bullying is a serious issue.
"Bullying isn't a right of passage and it's not something that kids just have to deal with. For a lot of children, it's very hard on their self-esteem," Noble said. "We need to be able to listen to that and be able to help parents, families, and schools find solutions."