Parents concerned about increase in violence at NYC schools

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LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan -- Samantha Silva says she knows firsthand how violence within New York City public schools is on the increase.

Silva says her nine-year-old son Christopher was jumped, bullied and humiliated by an eighth-grade boy, five years older than her son and she says officials at P.S. 140 were slow to respond.

"He pulled my son down to the floor, held his face to his crotch and told my son he was gay," Samantha Silva told PIX11, adding that school officials waited three hours to tell Ms. Silva what happened to her son.

Silva and her son joined dozens of others on the steps of City Hall to release a report by Families for Excellent Schools.

The pro-charter school group claims a 23 percent increase in school violence from close to 13,000 incidents in 2014 close to 16,000 in 2015.

And the school violence index, a ratio of violent incidents to enrollment, rose 22 percent for the same time period.

"There is no spin here," Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO, Families for Excellent Schools, said. "This is not our data. It's the state's data reported by city school," he added.

There are incidents that are truly violent," Kittredge said, "including arson, sexual assault with a weapon and Homicide."

The group claims Mayor de Blasio is misleading the public when he boasted that school violence was down 29 percent, as he he did in his state of the city address.

The mayor dismissed the group's report and their criticism.

"I have learned long ago not to pay too much attention to statistics from that organization that clearly has a bone to pick," Mayor de Blasio said.

"We have the official statistics for the school system," the mayor continued. "Under my predecessor and continuing under us, crime in the schools has gone down, we're very proud of that fact."

Other mothers who say their sons have been victimized in school say the mayor must listen.

"Safety is our number one priority," Kim Booker, a mother whose son goes to P.S. 7 in East Harlem said. "The mayor must take action expeditiously."

Part of the difference between the mayor's differing numbers on school violence, compared to the pro charter school group's, is the mayor counts an incident as violent only if the NYPD has been called in, the state records an incident as violent if a school staff member says it is.