A 12-year-old California boy is speaking out after being the victim of countless incidents of racism and bullying at his Rocklin County school.
Daniel Pocklington took the podium last Wednesday and implored school board members to address several issues his family says haven’t been handled correctly, CBS Sacramento reported. Pocklington, a student at Rock Creek Elementary, told the board he’d like to see them implement a policy forbidding hate speech and bullying at all Rocklin County schools.
“I’m here to talk about what it’s like to be an African American boy in your school,” the fifth grader said. “I’ve been hit, chased, thrown down, and called the N-word several times this year. It’s hard for me to find a safe way to go to school and actually feel important.”
“It keeps happening and I don’t feel safe, or that it will get better,” he added.
Pocklington’s family described the young boy as a good student who gets good grades and participates in student council. He’s even on the cross country team. Pocklington’s school life has been far from easy, however.
The 12-year-old said he’s been bullied on several occasions, and has even been assaulted and called racial slurs. He said someone recently left a note on his desk with the n-word scribbled on it.
“It felt really bad, it felt like you got shot right through the heart,” he said. “It felt like you didn’t mean anything in the world … And it makes me think, why does this keep happening to me, like what have I done to people to make them do this to me?”
Adrien Pocklington, the child’s adoptive mother, said she’s reached out to the principal and the district about the bullying but not enough has been done.
“He said he was handling it, that they were doing one-day in-school suspension and I said ‘that’s not enough, that’s not teaching my child that he matters and that the school isn’t gonna tolerate it,’ ” she told CBS Sacramento.
“They’re not being held accountable,” she said of the bullies. “… If we don’t start now [our kids] are not gonna have the confidence or strength to stand up for themselves.”
In the end, Pocklington said he finally decided to speak up because it hurt trying to keep it all in. He said he knew there were other kids who felt the same way he did, but were too afraid to speak out.
“I feel like my friends deserve a better way to go to school and feel safe,” he said.
The fifth grader’s impassioned plead earned him a standing ovation at Wednesday’s board meeting, according to the news station.
The Rocklin County school district has since released the following statement:
“We are aware of instances regarding offensive behavior at one of our elementary schools. Each allegation was addressed immediately with an investigation and appropriate disciplinary actions taken when appropriate. Following the final instance, the principal met that day with all 5th grade students to speak seriously about a variety of related topics including tolerance and acceptance. The Rocklin Unified School District is a place where we build people up and celebrate each other, and embrace our diversity. We will continue to work together with all our families, students and staff to reach that aim.”