MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Recent bullying statistics show about 160,000 children miss school every day out of fear of being bullied.
About 2.7 million students are bullied every year, 71% of them report it as an ongoing problem.
13-year-old Carlos Armstrong is one of them. He was reunited with his mother Tuesday evening after running away from home Saturday, he says, because he was being bullied at school and didn’t want to have to go back to class.
“They were hitting me and talking bad words to me,” Armstrong said.
“There were these three kids that would not stop bothering him at all times and they threatened they were going to kill him and he was so scared,” said Armstrong’s mother, Rebeca Castillo.
Miami Dade School officials say those three students have since been suspended and have not returned to school.
Police say Carlos was missing for more than 48 hours and spent some of his time in downtown Miami at Bayside asking people for money so that he could buy food for himself.
“I mean the kid is afraid of cockroaches,” Castillo said, wondering why he would go so far as to run away.
But, Isabel Rodriguez Duncan with Miami Dade Public Schools’s Student Services says it makes perfect sense for a student who is being bullied.
“You can have signs of anxiety, the student might be nervous have difficulty sleeping with nightmares, having evasive behavior and not wanting to go to school,” Rodriguez-Duncan said.
Like a lot of parents, Castillo says she kept sending her son back to school, because she wanted him to learn how to stand up for himself.
But Rodriguez-Duncan’s advises all parents to trust your child’s feelings and report any bullying right away, no matter how small it may seem.
“It’s very important to address it at its root…you never have to wait until things are a lot larger.”
As for Carlos, his mother has decided to transfer him to another school.
Carlos says he’s learned from his situation instead of running away he and other students should “never keep quiet and always tell an adult when someone is trying to bully you.”
Any student or parent afilliated with a Miami Dade Public school can call in anonymous tips about bullying at (305) 995-2677.