BERKELEY TWP – Mothers and fathers of students and their friends and allies this morning rallied outside Central Regional High School at the edge of the Pine Barrens, the heart of this shore community where Adriana Kuch took her own life after assailants brutally attacked her, filmed her, and sadistically posted their handiwork on social media.
The mothers here, some of whom have known each other their whole lives, don’t intend to back down.
Outnumbered, ambushed, and shamed by her attackers, Adriana Kuch died on Feb. 3rd. Heartbroken, the moms want answers, they want changes, and they want accountability in a school system they say abandoned a precious child in need.
“I’m hoping, with Adriana’s father’s blessing, that they implement a new policy at the school, which is that if a child goes to the administration to report a bullying incident, and nothing happens, the administration is held accountable,” activist mother Breana Renda told InsiderNJ in the parking lot of the 711 across from the sprawling high school. “When it comes to social media, I don’t agree with them taking away kids’ phones. It’s important for them to have the phones to protect themselves, and they’re our reporters in the school but if a child is attacked and that attack is posted with malicious intent, the administration, children who attacked, and the parents, are all held accountable.”
At the shore, the parents who showed up today told stories about other instances of bullying at the school, and an administration that has not taken action to prevent what they describe as a culture of intimidation and violence.
“They need to wake up,” said parent Sean O’Brien (pictured, below), referring to the school administration, which already accepted the resignation letter of the school district superintendent, who in published remarks tried to blame the victim.
The children have already staged a protest.
The mothers and fathers said they will take over when necessary, as they try to create a school that actually civilizes, as opposed to one that stimulates violence and sadism.
“Saving children is not just human trafficking; it’s in the school system as well,” said Renda.
Berkeley Twp. Councilman James Byrne showed up to express his support for the parents as they seek justice at Central Regional High School.
“Sure,” said Byrne, when asked if he supports their efforts. “My kids went to this school. My grandkids go to this school. There are problems and they have to be solved.”
He elaborated, but gingerly.
“The way the whole thing was handled – I’ve got to be careful with what I say,” said the councilman. “My job is to stand up with the parents, and go to the board meeting tomorrow night.”
He described the bullying policy big as complicated – maybe too complicated; and complimented the children who rallied outside the school last week.
“If the kids didn’t come out, this probably would have been swept under the rug,” said Byrne.
He acknowledged that the school may need more police on the beat in the building.
“There are never enough cops,” Byrne said. “We need to follow through.”
He also blamed a bigger issue, namely the unfair distribution of school resources and what he noted as too many dollars going into inner city schools at the expense of districts like his. “Thirty districts are getting 90% of the money,” said Byrne. “If they got equal funding…” His voice trailed off.
Sonya Marchetta of Monroe drove down to Ocean to stand in solidarity with other mothers.
Her children are 12 and 13 and facing a Clockwork Orange-like world. “A lot gets all over social
media and then we have a situation like this, a place where you have a history of bullying, where nothing gets done about it.”
Maybe people didn’t do anything about it yesterday.
But that ended yesterday, the mothers said, as they chanted the name “Adriana Kuch” in front of the massive suburban school while cars passed and horns sounded and the grieving voices never gave, insisting on civilization as a substitute to the barbarism which this month claimed one of their own – unforgotten.
“Hold the administration accountable,” they shouted. “Hold the administration accountable. Hold the administration accountable.”
And moments later, remembering Adriana Kuch:
“She matters. She matters. She matters. She matters. She matters.”
As the numbers grew and the voices intensified, children from the school went over to the crowd and cried amid what they describe as a maelstrom of bullying and cruel laughter – and – present company excepted – so much adult indifference.