Teen takes stand against race-triggered bullying

A Charlotte teen is speaking out against her bullies after she said she was attacked at Myers Park High School in December.

“When people hear me complaining, it’s just another hood rat problem,” 17-year old Dasia Jernigan said. “Some of them don’t like me because I’m light skinned, some of them don’t like me because my hair, some of them don’t like me because they say I act too white and some of them just don’t like me for no reason.”

Jernigan said she was attacked by two female students at Myers Park. She said she fought back. Police reports were filed the same day and she’s since switched schools because of the issue.

“I’m tired of coming home feeling like crap," Jernigan said. "I’m tired of coming home feeling ugly because people tell me I am."

The high school junior said ever since freshman year she’s been bullied. Everything from her physical stature to race.

“I remember being called a [transgender person] for being tall,” Jernigan said. “What they call me is a Jungle Bunny.”

She went on to say, “And then I go and make reports, I just go tell the teachers -- it’s just someone to talk to and they’re like ‘I hear you, I hear you’ but they don’t do anything.”

Steve Smith, a sociology professor at South Piedmont Community College, is taking action against bullying.

“I would say probably two in 10 students get bullied on a daily basis,” Smith said.

Since 2014, he’s been working with Indian Trail Mayor Michael Alvarez on The Bully Project. They’ve brought teachers, parents, students and law enforcement together to act on bullying protocol.

"It's heavily tied to other things like mass shootings," Smith said.

Bullying hits close to home in Indian Trail. A student at Porter Ridge High School, Ash Haffner, committed suicide by jumping in front of a car in 2014. In a note left behind, Haffner said it was because of bullying.

“I always tell them to document and write down exactly what happened and investigate -- much like you would a general criminal scene out in the public,” Smith said.

Per federal law, CMS is not allowed to comment on the specifics of the alleged bullying/attacks involving Jernigan. In its Code of Conduct, bullying even outside of school can be punished if it has a direct effect in school.

Students are allowed to defend themselves with "self defense without consequence" but it is not defense to participate in the fight.

“I’ve just been called lots of things, ‘nappy-headed ho,’” Jernigan said.

As the 17-year-old shared her story, her hope is to bring light to not just her worries, but others sharing a similar plan.

“It's important so I can save the next kid's life."

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