DeKalb County Schools are preparing to add another weapon in the fight against bullying.
The district will soon have two social workers dedicated to helping families and teachers.
Gabriel Reed, an eighth grader at Plainview School, can still remember the taunts from his bully last year. He says with the help of parents and teachers, the situation was resolved, but it did scare him.
"He knows where I live, and he said he was going to beat me up by coming to my house," said Reed. "That's why I don't want to ride the bus that much."
His older brother, Malachi Spearin, said he's glad to see the district taking another step to stop bullying.
"I think a social worker would be a step in the right direction," said Spearin.
Both social workers will be on the job within the month and are funded through a grant from the "Alabama Anti-Bully and Safe Environment Initiative." They'll work with students, teachers and parents to focus on mental and emotional health. The grant will cover $50,000 of the cost.
Superintendent Jason Barnett said stopping bullying is a priority and the rest of the money for salaries and benefits was set aside in the budget.
“It is my goal to support the whole student, to help him or her achieve success. With that comes a desire to meet the students where they are and help them meet their goals socially, emotionally, academically, and, ultimately, in their careers. I believe this is another step to do just that,” Barnett said.
The two social workers will go to all the schools in the district as needed. The first one has already been hired. He's worked with the state and various centers in DeKalb County.