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Minnesota mom of bullied kids takes problem to social media

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Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Like a lot of kids, northwest Minnesota students Anna, 8, and her brother, Ben, 7, have been having trouble with bullies at school.

It's an old problem. But the children's mother, Sarah Cymbaluk, this week employed an Internet-age solution. She took to social media, which has raised some provocative questions.

Cymbaluk on Wednesday night posted to Facebook a video (above) of her crying, agonized daughter, trying to explain her trouble at their Fosston, Minnesota, school.

In the video, when she cannot continue, brother Ben describes in some detail the taunts, profanity and talk of suicide hurled around on the school bus. The boy says the bus driver at one point ordered Anna to “sit your (expletive) down.”

Anna had told Principal Dan Boushee about the bullying at Magelssen Elementary School, but trouble persisted, Forum Communications reported. The children said the bullying primarily was done on the bus and playground by two older boys, and had even resulted in bruises and scrapes from scuffles.

After the video was posted – and then shared more than 22,000 times – Jon and Sarah Cymbaluk met with school administrators and a school board member Thursday, Forum reported.

Superintendent Mark Nohner said the video is "heartbreaking" to watch, although he told Forum that the statements made by the children on the video might not be "100 percent accurate.”

Nohner told WDAZ-TV they were close to solutions to making the kids feel safe, although he couldn't elaborate on how the alleged bullies might be disciplined. School officials agreed to write a written apology to the family and they say they have met with the bus driver, Nohner told the station.

MPR News blogger Bob Collins says the video is about more than bullying – it raises good questions:

Should the mother have been filming her daughter at a time when comforting seemed the order of the day?

Should a news station have been reposting the video without checking to see if the story was true?

Why does a mother have to go to this extent to get satisfaction when her kids are being bullied?

Nohner tells KVLY/KXJB-TV, "I found out about the situation a couple of days ago and I think it could have been resolved without going to Facebook."

Both Nohner and the Cymbaluks have received hateful messages since the video was posted, KVLY/KXJB reported.

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