PUTNAM COUNTY, Ga. - A Putnam County Middle School student said that, if he wants to play football, he has to play on the same team as a bully who he said sent him to the hospital.
Channel 2's Sophia Choi talked to Sam French, 13, who said the bully beat him up twice, once on the school bus and once in class. French said that now, he's worried it will happen again on the football field.
French's mother, Patricia French, said the bully beat him so badly back in February that police charged him with battery.
"He just started coming at me, and like kept bullying me," Sam French said. "He's bigger than me, a lot bigger than me."
Patricia French said a judge put in place a 12-month stay-away order against the bully, starting in April, but the order does not apply at school.
"The school is where Samuel was attacked and the problems occurred," Patricia French said. "Not at home, not at McDonald's."
The school district told her that the bully has rights, too.
"Their thing is that he was punished. He's punished, so now he could play on the football team," Patricia French said.
She said the school promised to keep the kids apart during classes, but the bully has the right to play.
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Sam French said that now he has a hard time concentrating on the game, because he is worried his bully will hurt him on purpose.
"He was my bully. Then making us that close together, when we're physical on the football team, we're going to be physical. So you never know," Sam French said.
Choi tried to get answers from the school but officials didn't respond because it is summer break. Eatonton police confirmed that the bully was charged with battery -- but said the judge's stay-away order states that it does not apply in school.
Patricia French disagrees with the decision to allow the bully on the football team, but she's turning her frustration into action by becoming a certified bullying prevention advocate.
"I've met 42 students just from Putnam County who have been bullied," Patricia French said. "Now that I know, it's hard. I should have known sooner. I should have done something sooner. It hurts. I don't want it to happen again."
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