ORANGE COUNTY, CA -- The parents of a local high school teen are offering $1,000 for information leading to the identities of their daughter’s bullies.
So far, two Los Alamitos High School students have been disciplined, and police and school authorities are looking for additional students who may have harassed Kaylie Castillo, 16, and distributed sexually explicit material at the school to bully her.
In the wake of the incidents, other students at the school told Patch they too had been the victims of classmate bullying based on racism, homophobia or misogyny. One teen said it got so bad he tried to kill himself.
Kaylie’s parents told CBS News they were offering $1,000 for information that would identify the people responsible for harassing their daughter.
Last week, someone placed a photo of a naked woman with Kaylie’s head pasted onto it inside lockers at the high school, according to district officials. Her tormenters also faked sexually explicit text messages in her name.
Two students have already been disciplined, said Sherry Kropp, Los Alamitos Unified School District superintendent.
“We take this seriously, and it’s not being ignored. We are going to stay on it until the perpetrator is caught,” Kropp said. "I feel confident we will find the person responsible. It has proven to be more difficult than we thought it would be, but we have a lot of good leads.”
Kropp declined to name the two students already disciplined. However, anyone caught sexting or transmitting explicit photos of a teenager is culpable and could face criminal charges, Kropp said. Perpetrators also face suspension or expulsion, she added.
Students leaving class at Los Alamitos High School on Friday had a mix of reactions to the bullying allegations.
Some said bullying was rare at the school, but others said it was common.
Sophomore Kayliyah Johnson and two friends said black girls at the school endure insults from other students. Johnson, who is African-American, said she’s heard jokes and racist comments from students who don't realize the hurt they cause.
“They don’t see it as bullying,” Johnson said. “They see it as being funny.”
As an example, Johnson and her two friends said someone had created a photo stream on Instagram, the Facebook photo sharing service, titled “skank_bitchez_of_los_al” and put pictures of some juniors on it.
Johnson said she thinks parents should get involved and teach their children that bullying is not acceptable.
Rayce Sabo, a sophomore from Los Alamitos, said he felt bullying didn’t happen often at the school and that the Castillo incident was a random occurrence.
“I don’t know if they should [crack] down on bullying because stuff’s always going to happen,” said Sabo, one of the students who found the Photoshopped image of Castillo’s head on the body of porn star, in his locker.
Sabo said if what happened to Castillo had happened to him, it wouldn’t have bothered him.
“I don’t really care what people think about me that much,” Sabo said.
Freshman Analeisa Davison, a Rossmoor resident, said she believes school officials are “doing all they can to control it when it happens,” but it’s hard to respond when it’s a random occurrence.
What if it happened to her?
“I would just be really hurt and kind of confused,” Davison said. However, she knows “kids can get kind of jealous or really catty because they’re girls.”
Gabby Hartman, 17, a junior who allegedly ended up on the Instagram photostream, sent a text message to one of her friends talking about her pain.
“I Just Want The Bullying To Stop & And It’s Just Ridiculous How People Could Live Their Lives Knowing That They’re Hurting People,” Hartman wrote in the text message.
Nico, a student who asked that his last name not be used, said he experienced his share of bullying during sixth and seventh grade at McAuliffe Middle School before attending LAHS. He said he still hears hurtful insults at LAHS.
At one point, he said, the bullying got so intense at McAuliffe that he tried to hang himself with a belt. He said the belt broke.
He said the abuse made him feel worthless, but he also thought bullying was a universal experience. "I thought, like, everyone got bullied," Nico said.
Nico, who describes himself as bisexual, said bullying at LAHS was more verbal abuse than physical.
He said the school should make sure to punish those who bully. In the latest incident, he said, those who aided the pranks against Castillo should be suspended and those who masterminded the action should be expelled.
Anyone with information about the incidents cans call the Los Alamitos Police Department at 562-431-2255 or Los Alamitos High School Principal Josh Arnold at 562-799-4780.