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Despite arrest, Harnett Co. father would defend his son again if needed

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Statistics show that every seven seconds a child is bullied, and that one in every four kids will have a plan to commit suicide before they graduate high school.

But one Harnett County father took matters into his own hands to ensure his stepson didn't become a statistic.

Chris Eichele was arrested and charged two weeks ago after he boarded his son's school bus and confronted students who he said had bullied his son.

Eichele said he has complained to school officials that his son has been constantly harassed on the ride home from Overhills Middle School, but he said school administrators haven't done enough to stop the bullying.

"I'm not going to be one of the parents who comes home and finds their kid a suicide victim," Eichele said. "I'm going to stop that before it happens."

But some parents say that while they feel strongly about protecting their children from bullies, they aren't sure Eichele made the right move.

"It was wrong, but he thought it was the right thing to do to protect his son," said parent Kelly Molina. "I don't think I would have gone to the extreme like that."

Justin Rivera agreed, adding, "Just by going on a bus and handling it yourself, I don't think it's the greatest way to handle the situation."

School officials said Eichele was arrested because a bus is considered the same as a school and that neither can be entered without permission.

School officials said it addressed the bullying issue on the bus after Eichele brought it to their attention and disciplined those involved. But they say Eichele can’t be told the punishment because it would have violated student confidentiality rules.

Still, Eichele said he thinks school officials dropped the ball.

"Following that incident, the children were still on the bus," Eichele said. "The same driver was still driving it, and the same things were still happening."

Kimberly McCoy said she understands Eichele's frustration, explaining that she would have taken the same action had the opportunity presented itself.

"Every year I had to go speak to teachers, or [go to] parents houses to talk with them about what their kids had done to my son," McCoy said.

Eichele said despite his arrest for trespassing and making threats, he would do it again.


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Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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