Another tragic death: How can parents/schools stop bullying?

A heartbreaking story on the front page of AJC.com today, an 11-year-old boy from DeKalb County hung himself last week after he was bullied relentlessly at school, his family said. Here’s the link to the story and some excerpts.

From the AJC story:

“On Thursday afternoon, after returning home from Dunaire Elementary School, Jaheem Herrera quietly went into his room and hanged himself. His 10-year-old sister, Yerralis, also a fifth-grader, discovered Jaheem’s dead body.”

“Jaheem was bullied relentlessly, his family said. Keene said the family knew the boy was a target, but until his death they didn’t understand the scope.”

” ‘We’d ask him, ‘Jaheem, what’s wrong with you?’” Keene recalled. ‘He’d never tell us. ‘ ”

“He didn’t want his sister to tell, either. She witnessed much of the bullying, and many times rose to her brother’s defense, Keene said.”

“They called him gay and a snitch,” his stepfather said. “All the time they’d call him this.”

“In an interview with WSB-TV, the boy’s mother, Masika Bermudez, also said her son was being bullied at school. She said she had complained to the school.”

“Earlier this month the suicide of a Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover – who suffered taunts that he was gay – attracted national attention.”

“He was also 11. His mother found him hanging from an extension cord in the family’s home.”

“Jaheem was excelling academically, Keene said, adapting quickly to his new home. The family moved to the Avondale Estates area less than a year ago from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Last winter, his grandmother died from cancer. She was living with the family at the time.”

We have a friend who has a very thin, small little guy in middle school. He was being bullied constantly. The parents went to the school multiple times and the principal assured them he would be protected. The last straw was when his head was shoved into a toilet at school and the kids flushed it on him. The parents pulled the child from the school and are now having to homeschool just to protect him. I’m not sure if they are taking any legal action against the school.

Jaheem’s story leaves me wondering many things:

How rampant is bullying? What can the schools do to stop it? How can you know as a parent when it’s happening? How can you judge how severe it is? What can we say to siblings who might be able to share what is going on even when the child will not? Are the schools liable in this type of case?

214 comments Add your comment

motherjanegoose

April 21st, 2009
8:51 am

HOW SAD! Our son was teased unmercifully when he was in the 5th grade at Walnut Grove. We had just moved him from another Gwinnett County school but most of the rest of the class had been together since kindergarten ( at the new school) and they felt he was an OUTSIDER and not one of their group.
His teacher called us in for a conference. It was a very difficult time for him. He was tall and very bright but children can be filled with venom ( parents sometimes cultivate this by their lack of tolerance for others). I cannot imagine being in the above situation.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 21st, 2009
8:53 am

what did you do to stop it?????

(MJG — I pulled the earlier topic for this news-related one — the other one will show back up tomorrow!)

jbgotcha

April 21st, 2009
9:05 am

The kid was 11 years old. What disturbs me in addition to his suicide, is the fact that homophobic and sexist epithets were utilized in his ridicule. The children are too young to come to this type of insulting behavior on their own. The parents of the bullying children must be filling their children’s heads with intolerance. Teaching young boys that anything “feminine” is evil and must be avoided can lead to this exact type of bullying. So sad….shame on some of these parents. I pray for the parents of the victim.

itamazesme

April 21st, 2009
9:06 am

This is awful!! My daughter was bullied and I set up a meeting with the principal the child and her parents. After this meeting, the young lady left my child alone – because it had been brought to the attention of her parents. Needless to say, nothing can be done if the staff are not taking the child seriously or doing anything about it. This child told and nothing was done. Also, he didn’t tell his family. The only way it can be handled by a parent, the child has to let the parent know. This is so difficult, because he told the person(s) he thought would handle the situation. My prayers and condolences to this family.

Stan

April 21st, 2009
9:07 am

I, being a fat kid, was subjected to a lot of bullying in grade school. Fortunatly I was not just pudgy but tall and pretty strong for my age, so with a little encouragment from family I learned to stand up for myself. I didn’t always win and I would say it is the best solution for it today but it got me through. I would almost say that my size and strength made me a target, they wanted to see if they could take me.

Skreet

April 21st, 2009
9:10 am

Dekalb county schools do not do much at all to stop bullying. They’ll call the kids into the principals office and tell them to stop but it rarely stops the bullying for more than a few weeks.

MrLiberty

April 21st, 2009
9:13 am

Get your child OUT of the government run prison system that passes for schools. That is the first step. Homeschool them. Everyone criticizes homeschooling because of the lack of “socialization.” THIS IS THE ONLY TYPE OF SOCIALIZATION THAT KIDS GET. 10 years later, lets remember that Columbine is another example of the type of socialization prevalent in the government run school system.

Private schools have an incentive to meet customers needs. Government does not because they will always be able to steal as much money as they need, no matter how many opt out of their system.

The sooner you face the realities of the government system, the sooner you can help your child be safe and have a happy, healty, well-educated childhood.

Peace3132

April 21st, 2009
9:14 am

My friends son went to Flat Rock (a new school) in DeKalb County was teased and bullied from day one. My friend was at the school daily to discuss the situation with the principal and her response was strange. She would say we play classical music on the intercom to calm the students. What the f!@#. DeKalb needs to change board and principals.

K LaBlink

April 21st, 2009
9:14 am

They should prosecute the children that taunted Jaheem. They should be charged with murder. I wonder who are the parents of these bullies. This must be stopped. I just hope this does not happen to another kid.

Anna Arnold

April 21st, 2009
9:15 am

The best way to keep children safe at school is to have a school and community wide effort to empower bystanders to stand up for their peers. Bullying is peer abuse and research tells us that over 85% of the students in schools are not directly involved in bullying behavior. They observe it, even sometimes taunt or laugh when students are bullied, but most of them are what the Olweus Bullying Prevention program calls passive bystanders. Olweus is a highly structured and scientific research-based program created after three male students commited suicide in the late 1980’s in Norway. Many school systems in GA such as Henry County School System has a systemic initiative to eliminate bullying from our schools. Over 17 schools in Henry County are practicing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, and the results have not only seen a dramatic reduction in bullying behavior but also increased attendance and improved school climates. All children have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and it is our responsiblities as adults to maintain a school environment free from acts of violence and emotional cruelty!

Gala

April 21st, 2009
9:17 am

This bullying has got to stop. The reason that teachers and other school employees avoid doing anything about is because they can get fired for even reproaching students these days, especially if the Principal has no backbone. The School Board and the Principals are the ones who need to get involved in order to put a stop to this behavior. They set up No Tolerance rules against drugs and weapons, why not for bullying?
I bet it would cease after several of the bullies got expelled.

Deborah Zachery

April 21st, 2009
9:17 am

My granddaughter attend this school, it seems to me that in addition to the principal the person who told this young man to “man up” are just as responsible for his death. This child did what every parent tells thier children to do and report what was happening and as usual the system failed him. Find those responsible, remove them from the school, start a school for bullys. I am will ing to bet that it would be full of students that don’t want learn. Where are the parents of these kids that bully?, what are they doing? Of course they would say it is not there child who is bullying but they are a victim too. Hold those parents responsible for their child disrupting, and stopping learning for the good students. I have sent emails to the superintendent, assistant superindents and the school board members, if change starts in this school then it will help somebody else’s child from doing the same thing.

AlwaysAVol

April 21st, 2009
9:18 am

Lack of dscipline, lack of enforcement, lack of values. I know I will be drug on the rug for this one, but our society has lost focus on family values, if nothing more than teaching the golden rule. How many of us make disparging comments about minorities? About the homeless? One thing that remains true throughout, children learn more by watching than by listening. Are we guilty of bullying? In the workplace (cut throat as it can be at times)? In the store, jockying as quickly as we can for a good place in line to get out quicker? For parking spots? In our driving habits? In the way we treat our neighbors? Simplistic as it may sound, national pride, religious beliefs, something simple as the Golden Rule…we have let political correctness erode and decay our core values. There is a difference between adgreeing to disagree and still being cordial and agreeing to disagree with beligerance. Just my two cents…

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 21st, 2009
9:18 am

Anna — very interesting — Is there a web site for the program??

Adittohead

April 21st, 2009
9:22 am

SOLUTION is not as hard as it appears. A meek child, a pacific will always become an easy target. Once you MIX it up with the toughest kid in the crowd, the bullying stops…Once you bloody the nose of the bully, it will stop..Even A dog will attack a person who emots fear..Be willing to get a bloody nose & the bullying will end.

Kym aka Southern Girl (Gal)

April 21st, 2009
9:25 am

I believe the schools can put a stop to alot of this by confronting the bully and the bullies parents head-on. Most bullies have self-esteem issues and who is to say the child doing the bullying does not have sexual identity issues and instead focus their own frustrations on others. It needs to be addressed when it happens and with all parties involved. If the parents of the bully are not available then remove that child from the classroom until the parents make themselves available. While this may seem counterproductive to the education of the child, it forces the parents hand. We as parents don’t always like to think our kid would do this or that, but the fact is we are not all raising little angels. The school and parents have got to learn to work hand in hand to confront this issue. I know earlier this year my son was harrassing some other kids in school, I only found out about it when the teacher brought it up at a meeting. I asked her why didn’t she tell me immediately she said well it was not that bad. I immediately addressed the issue with my son and then told him he was to make a full apologize to his class for his behavior, I then made sure I showed up during that class time to witness the apology. While some parents may find that overkill-I feel that it was neccessary that the issue be address so that my son knew it was not acceptable, and that the teacher knew I was holding my child accountable for his actions. I am not sure what is going on in our schools but communication between school officals and parents is lacking.

Miss B

April 21st, 2009
9:26 am

I was bullied in middle school. I was attending Miller Grove but three girls from Redan High School literally came to my bus stop to jump me. The ONLY thing that saved me was my mother. She was there. When I ran home after being jumped, she got in her car and confronted the girls and told them to their face that we were pressing charges. She stood there through the entire process. We went to a hearing and all of the girls were expelled. Also, if they were to touch me thereafter, they would have gone to juvenille detention. I honestly believe that the parents play big role in this initiative. It’s scary being a teen.

Deborah Zachery

April 21st, 2009
9:27 am

I think if we start having lawsuits against the schools and the district, bullying will not entirely stop but it will cut down on alot I have read the comments from other parents and I agree with Skreet that nothing will be done, it will get better for a little while but then it will go back to business as usual.

cmcdougal

April 21st, 2009
9:28 am

Until the parents of the bullies are held accountable by the school, nothing will change. Bullies should get one pass on the conditions that the parents come into a face-to-face meeting with the child/parents. Apologies must be given and the student counseled that then next act will result in suspension AND PARENT PAID counseling for the bullier. When the parents feel the heat, the behavior will change.

Allen

April 21st, 2009
9:29 am

Why is it that physical bullying is not treated as what it is–assault and battery? These thugs ought to be in jail.

The school administrators simply failed this child. This being DCSS, their employment is likely based in anything but qualifications and ability. They should be canned immediately. More likely, they will be moved to DCSS HQ and given a salary increase with funds Dr. Lewis will later claim he is short of.

Mr. Liberty, private schools and home schooling simply are not an option when both parents work and neither gets paid well.

Art Thompson

April 21st, 2009
9:30 am

I have done interim substitute teaching in a metro Eastside county. The middle schools have many students who think nothing of saying things such as “you are a dancing Johnson” (slang for penis), you are a fag, a lesbian , a homo, you suck, you are gay. One boy in the 8th grade made a big scene when some lotion was accidentaly put on his pants claiming “that homo jizzed on me.” The barrage on students is especially cruel to the quieter more introverted students who endure loud talk, rude behavior and struggle to do their work despite opposition of the loud students.

In the classes I work, I warn students this behavior is against the law and refer them to 1- 800 – children. These posters are throughout the schools.

When my kids were growing up in Peachtree City, I ran a teen center on the weekends and Made it a point to never allow derogatory harrassment of the kids who came to be spilled over from possible abuse they got at school. I went so far as to publicly write the local paper to advise would not tolerate sexual or bully abuse of my teen club members.

My advise is to report it if it occurs and come down hard on the boy or girl who is the main culprit.Punishment should be severe and theschool at large should be made aware of their tactics as bully predators much as the state keeps track of sexual predators.

JJ

April 21st, 2009
9:35 am

Mr. Liberty, as a single parent, if I quit my job to stay home and protect my child and home school her, are you going to pay my bills?

Not everyone has the luxury of being able to afford to stay home with the kids……and do YOU home school your kids, or does your wife?

JJ

April 21st, 2009
9:37 am

AlwaysAVol – Very well said!!!

Travis Foster

April 21st, 2009
9:39 am

Sometimes you have to go above the staff in schools. I was taught at a very young age you keep going to someone until that someone does something to help you and believes you. If no one believes you start going to the press. All I can say is be careful with the press due to the fact they fill in gaps that need to be filled.

Sally

April 21st, 2009
9:42 am

I hope the school system AND the school administrators get sued for every penny they own. The boys who shot up Columbine were bullied also but that fact is conveniently overlooked most of the time.

sarah

April 21st, 2009
9:42 am

Most public school are like wild jungles now. Anything and everything goes on in them. You have middle schoolers experimenting with sex and drugs while at school. Children tormening other children. I am a parent right now of a 6 year old and I have him enrolled in a good public elementary school but by the time he is ready for middle school I will have to enroll in a private school. After the 4th grade everything goes down hill for most public schools.

Kym aka Southern Girl (Gal)

April 21st, 2009
9:44 am

@AlwaysAVol I agree it is lacking of values and not following the Golden Rule. I have the hardest time explaining it to my son right now that life is not fair and everyone is not going to behave the way you would. His reason for picking on the other kids were well they picked on me. And trying to get him to understand that stooping to their level is not good for anyone. He didn’t feel he should have to apologize because they didn’t have to apologize. I told him it is not about what they do, it is about what you do. You know what is expected of you.

Gala. D.

April 21st, 2009
9:44 am

Horrible, how could we as a society allow any child, no matter race, color, sex, origin subcome to any bullying ever again! I feel the parents should be held responsible for there children actions to the fulliest! My heart goes out to this family and they will be in my prayers. I believe if parents are held more responsible for there children actions we will see a lot of children, not all acting in a more constructive behavior. All I can say to any parents who knows or thinks their child is being bullied, do not take it lightly, and stay in the school officials face and law enforments face with the situation. Remember” It takes a village to raise a child.”

Ayana

April 21st, 2009
9:46 am

Bullying is a part of life, no matter what you look like or how you act, etc. I was bullied throughout school because kids thought I was stuck up. It was soooo hard for me because I really tried to fit in. I cried everyday!

The solution for my kids? Getting to know as many parents as possible, dropping by for lunch with my kids as many times as possible, knowing the names all of the children in their classes and speaking to them, knowing all of the staff (not just the teachers). Also, little things at home…making sure my kids are clean and well groomed, that they are prepared for school and they are well rested….teachers/staff tend to treat kids differently if they KNOW the kids are protected and well cared for…Ive seen this with my own eyes.

And YES, I work full time. Some of my co-workers shop during their lunch break….I make time for my children.

Sadik

April 21st, 2009
9:46 am

this is the website for the Olweus Bullying Prevention program that Anna mentioned above.

http://www.clemson.edu/olweus/

Rene

April 21st, 2009
9:50 am

I think we often believe that a bully is the tough kid in class, but often they are the pretty girls and cute boys who can smile at the teachers, staff and parents and get their way. The adults main responsibility is to protect these children but the school ties their hands. What sad is that most bullying is so subtle, just snide comments here and there that tear down any self esteem the victim may have. Society embraces the Darwin idea of the strongest survive and until that changes and differences are embraced, there will always be bullies at school and at work.

Kevin

April 21st, 2009
9:52 am

Simple, reduce pay for teachers. If you are a grown adult and can’t control young children from being out of control then why do you deserve having a teaching job? This young boy repeatedly asked his teachers to take control of the situation and they didn’t. This sounds to me like teachers aren’t earning their pay. I don’t live in Georgia, but still pay state taxes to my home of record state. This article absolutely blows my mind and makes me think whether I should change my home of record to Arkansas. I don’t want to pay taxes that ultimately end up with a young 11 year old boy taking his life.

MRG

April 21st, 2009
9:54 am

My heart aches. I have a 3rd grader who is handsome, bright and an all around good kid. We talk constantly about bullying and what’s happening at school. He is not being bullied but I’m teaching him to stand up for those who are being bullied. He knows it’s wrong and that I’m going to be just as mad at him if he stands around and joins in on the bullying or doesn’t try to stop it. The school principal has even noted several incidents where she’s seen my son step between a bully and a victim or where he chose to play with the new kid and introduce them to his friends. This all starts at home. We have to teach our children to be responsible and tolerable adults. We discussed Jaheem this morning during the ride to school. Now he understands why I’ve been so diligent. Kids are not being taught empathy for others because their parents don’t have empathy for others. My heart aches :(

free

April 21st, 2009
9:55 am

AlwaysAVol hit the nail on the head. We are so agressive as an adult society that it spills over. Every teen show on tv that takes place inside a school has a “bully” character and a “wimp” character for kicks. Bullying/fighting have gone on in schools for ages but it never went too far because we had strong parental and administrative discipline back in those days. Nowadays, parents will sue the school if a teacher or administrator disciplines their kids. The kids don’t get disciplined at home. Video games and tv shows are based around murder and mayhem. What do we expect will happen? I never even knew how to hang myself at an age like that much less to have a thought of it. Discipline in the schools need to be addressed because it’s definitely not happening at home.

Herd89

April 21st, 2009
9:55 am

This is such a sad and tragic story that didn’t have to end this way. It breaks my heart that everyone failed this child. We are hearing too many similar stories, yet it keeps happening. My child’s classmate seems to be a problem child. He acts out in class, teases relentlessly, picks on everyone, and he does get sent to the office, but yet he remains in class. His actions have disrupted class all year long. I do not believe he has a friend in the class and I can’t help but wonder what will he be like in another 5-10 years. Will he feel like an outsider and victim or will he continue on to full blown bully status? We will be reading a tragic story involving him? Not sure what the answer is.

decaturparent

April 21st, 2009
9:57 am

From my experience, bullying is a product of home and school culture. In our school district, an enormous amount of time and effort (some think too much) are directed at teaching children to be curious about and appreciative of eachother’s differences rather than afraid of them. Every school in our district is a No Place for Hate School. The elementary schools have regular, if not daily, morning meetings where classmates can discuss disputes or other issues that are on their mind with the teacher leading/directing the discussion. This type of interaction dramatically reduces teasing and bullying.

Also, our community is a pretty liberal area and is very accepting of others, and the vast majority of children here are taught from birth that being different is not being bad. Gay, straight, black, white, big, small… most children are taught that these are things to be celebrated, not feared. A world of diversity is much more interesting than a plain vanilla world.

So, it’s all about the culture at home and at school. If parents teach their children to hate and be afraid of minorities/gays/unattractive people – they will do so. If schools do not take a very affirmative role in promoting tolerance, it will not exist.

Funny thing with my oldest, a middle schooler… she doesn’t get the whole Susan Boyle sensation b/c it never occurred to her that Susan Boyle might be of lesser value b/c of her appearance. She recognized her amazing vocal ability, but didn’t understand the hype until I explained to her that most people expected her to perform well b/c of her appearance. She has never been taught to disvalue anyone b/c of their appearance – it’s a foreign concept to her. Her only comment when I explained it to her was, “Well, that’s stupid. Why does anyone care how she looks? I think she’d be a good actress too.”

A Mother

April 21st, 2009
9:57 am

Prevention starts with education in my opinion. Bullying is nothing new! It’s showcased in movies, tv shows, music videos etc. This is not to say that it’s right but it’s made light of. Well it’s not funny to those that are bullied. It messes with their self esteem. Mediation programs and mentorship programs in school can help students and teachers defend against bullying head-on. Most schools have these programs but their jokes. Teachers can’t interface with students as they use to. I know teachers who say that they are told not to break up fights in school b/c of the risks. When did children begin to run adults? This is just stupid! Teachers need training courses on how to deal with bullying, fighting etc in school and students need mediation training and classes on how to deal with their emotions. Additionally, these things need to be reinforced. Lastly, parents need to stand up for their children and stop righting these things off as childhood issues. Today’s children aren’t us! They deal with guns, drugs, and violence in school everyday and we must take the time to listen to our kids. Talk to them daily! Make it a routine and really listen. We as parents tend to right kids issues off as not important but what we forget is it is important to them (kids) and we MUST take them seriously. Parents need to hold school faculty accountable. These people are intrusted with our most prize possessions; our children. We trust them to take care of our babies when we’re not arround but instead they allow them to run wild. HELL NO! This mess MUST stop!

Beth

April 21st, 2009
9:57 am

Ayana – well said! As a working mom, I work hard to make sure I’m involved at my kids’ schools, and that their friends know who I am.

Patrick

April 21st, 2009
9:58 am

This hits very close to home for two reasons: First of all, I was also bullied and teased all through my childhood, from Kindergarten up through my Senior year in high school. Even when my parents and I moved from one school to another, the teasing and bullying followed. I swear the kids in each school somehow knew each other in some way or another, even when it was from one county (Dekalb, in fact) to another (Rockdale).

The other way this hits home is in relation to me having lived in Dekalb County: I went to Dunaire back in the late 1980s, from November 1986 to March 1990, when we moved to Rockdale County. The teachers did nothing then, and 20-some years later, they’re doing nothing now. Nothing changes in Dekalb County, or in the state of Georgia. The teachers’ hands are tied by the government, and by various organizations that prevent them from taking any action, mainly the NEA. They don’t care about the children or the teachers. They only care about the union dues they get. Bring control over the classroom back to the teachers, including discipline.

If you ask me, I think the children who bullied this poor boy should be held accountable for his death. Perhaps convict them of murder in the second degree. Perhaps then will other children think twice about bullying others.

J.Hammond

April 21st, 2009
10:01 am

Our son attended a public school in Middle Georgia. The bullying/teasing/fag referencing began while he was in the 5th grade and continued until he completed the 8th grade. Like most parents, we noticed some withdrawn behavior and some axious moments, but he never really commented. It finally came to a head in the 8th grade when he made comments of self harm. We addressed the issue with the Administration and they were clueless, but assured us they woulld address the issue with the students and parents. That never happened until we requested a meeting with the Administration and the Teachers, but by then it appeared to late to undo the torment our son had endured. We also had tired to encourage our son to stand up to those who bullyed him, but that was not to be. Our son was referred to a Psychiatrist due to the self harm verbalizing and we moved him to a Private School. He is now 19 and doing well in College. Sadly, everyone does not have the resources nor the opportunity as we did, but you do what you have to do. Bottom line, listen to your children and be involved in their lives

A Mom

April 21st, 2009
10:01 am

I removed my child from public school after witnessing a fight between two 3rd graders. I learned from other children that the fights had been going on for months. The school didnt’ do anything until parents were present and one mother had to pry one child off of another.

I happened to be sitting in the Vice Principals office when they brought the culprit in by the neck after he had run out of the school and down the street. The school claimed that they didn’t do anything because of “cultural” differences – both of the boys were non-American, non-Hispanic by the way.

After further questioning I learned that the county accepts some bullying from children who may be “different” and I was told by a county therapist that bullying and threatening behavior by some children would just have to be accepted because they couldn’t understand it developmentally. That’s a load of CRAP.

No one has a right to hurt anyone else ever. That’s like giving an excuse for robbers, rapists and murderers. And that’s just what they are breeding in public schools.

Calling parents in for a meeting really isn’t doing anything. If the parents were influental the child wouldn’t be bullying in the first place. There should be zero tolerance. If you are violent or threatening – you loose your right to an education with the general population.

DeKalb County does not protect children or offer a decent education. I urge the Atlanta Journal Consitution to look deeper into this situation and why our public schools DO NOT protect all children. We need you to stand up for our children because the Board of Education and the Superintendent do not listen to parents.

I am fortunate that I was able to find money to send my child to private school. I would prefer that she go to public school but that just isn’t possible in Atlanta.

meme

April 21st, 2009
10:01 am

My child was also bullied at school. I was there almost everyday to eat lunch with her and just watch ( I could not sit in class with her).I was there almost everyday. These kids were aweful to her and made her yr at this school terrible, the child who did most of the bullying I was told was a perfect child( who did this without being seen, teacher say ” I really dont see it “).Funny that my child didnt want to go to school and told me everyday about the bullying. Her mother even says my child was the less than perfect child and hers was the perfect one! I know her mother talks about everyone so I guess thats where she gets it! This child had people hurting her on the play ground and told all kids not to play with her. I think by my child being new that this girl was jelious of her. I took her out of this (”best school in RC”) school. Teachers were good about helping at first but after a while were tired of dealing with it and me.
I feel so sorry for the family of this little boy who took his own life because of bullying. This school system should be held acountable for this and someone (atty,etc…) should step up and help this family!!

Tim

April 21st, 2009
10:01 am

Adittohead, your comments are ridiculous blame-the-victim nonsense. I was bullied constantly between grades 3 through 10, and, yes, I fought back at times, but the bullying didn’t stop. Unfortunately, I was a short, pudgy kid with glasses who was an easy target for malevolent bullies and their supporters. That was in the 1970s when schools did NOTHING to stop bullying. We don’t allow adults to be hit, shoved, kicked and slapped in everyday life. Why should we allow our children, the most vulnerable and precious of all, to face that behavior daily in schools? Constant school bullying has left me with a lifetime of poor self-esteem, depression, anger and rage towards those who bullied me and the teachers and school administrators who refused to do anything to stop it. Blaming the victim and encouring more violence as the solution is truly pathetic!

Denise

April 21st, 2009
10:06 am

OMG, I am sick even thinking about this. I am almost in tears for this child and his family. As many of you are saying, the Principal, teachers, anyone the boy confided in, should be sued and fired. But this will only give the family money (if that), not bring their baby back.

Back when I was in school (80s – 90s), parents advised their children to fight back – at least my mama did, and she said to fight dirty if we had to. No one was getting shot at school then and usually one tangle ended the whole beef and often the bully started to respect the one who they once bullied just for standing up for his/herself. Not now though! Fighting back causes a vicious cycle of retaliation.

My friend is an Assistant Principal in Florida and she says the parents are worse than the students. Parents defend their children and disrespect the teachers and administration for having the unmitigated gall to chastise or discipline their kids regardless of what the child did. (Teachers ALL discriminate against children for every reason you can come up with, if you didn’t already know. /sarcasm/) One girl had been in trouble so much that she knew she had 2 weekends of Saturday detention coming at the next infraction. Her mama called and told my friend that her daughter didn’t have time to go to Saturday detention so she might as well forget trying to impose the consequence on her. WTH? Now what? (She got suspended for about a week because she didn’t “have time” for detention.)

SW

April 21st, 2009
10:06 am

My son was new to the school and became the target of a bully within two months. The boy was smaller in stature so the school assumed that they were friends “horseplaying.” This horseplaying resulted in my son loosing a permanent tooth. I learned that the parent of the child was just as ignorant if not more ignorant than the child.

As parents we definitely have to send a message that bullying is NOT going to be tolerated. Talk to your children everyday. Give them at least 30 minutes of your day to tell you how they feel, their likes and dislikes. The most important thing that a parent can do is LISTEN. My kids know that I have their back right, wrong, or indifferent. The only thing that changes is how we (me and the kids) approach the situation to resolve the issue. And yes get involved. Get to know the other parents and DROP IN on the school UNANNOUNCED. You don’t want them to make it pretty because they know that you are coming in.

Jackie Earley

April 21st, 2009
10:14 am

My niece was overweight and endured bullying on the school bus and in school. I went to see the principal, resource office and I called the
police. I was seeking to get restraining orders on the children that were bullying her and as a result of that the bullying stopped. I also volunteered time at the school. If the school enforce the “no tolerance bullying” policy this would probably resolved this serious offense. One teacher said to me “skinny girls get picked on too”.
The public school system does not take this serious. They think that it is kids being kids. That is so far from the truth. Bullying hurts.
Society should no longer accept the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt”. Words hurt.

itpdude

April 21st, 2009
10:16 am

Bullying doesn’t sprout from nothing. This bullying characteristic among some children is largely from the caregivers of the child. Even if the school was pro-active (good fumble, Dekalb County!), the caregivers of the child need to right the situation and that starts from the home life.

Unfortunately many children are brought up in a terrible home life where violence and disrespect in general is the norm. And the cycle continues.

J.Hammond

April 21st, 2009
10:18 am

A Mom, it is not just happening in Atlanta. If not for the Private Schools in this area, most parents of the children attending public schools would need to be at those schools daily to assist policing the school. As others have mentioned, the parents of the children who are bullies are usually worse than the child. I wish I had an answer. My prayers will be with this family.

Storm

April 21st, 2009
10:22 am

Everyone wants to point the finger at everyone else and not accept personal responsibility.. Why isn’t anyone taking responsibility for these bullies? Are they being raised by wolves?

Teach your kids to stand up for themselves. The schools CANNOT do anything about it. These pansy parents didn’t want anyone touching/disclipining their precious little Johnny, so there are no reprecussions to his behavior. There’s little to no disclipline in the home, how do you expect him to behave in school, where he KNOWS no one can touch him.

My children have been taught to fight back. If someone hits them, hit ‘em back. Quit babying your kids, and teach them a little self defense. Then, if anything happens for fighting back, I’ll deal with it at home. Remember “Wait till your father gets home”?????

Patricia Marchany

April 21st, 2009
10:23 am

My heart is deeply sadened by the event, I feel like this is my own child and it very well could be. What I think the school systems need to do is to monitor the classes and the activity of the children much more closely because I know some one must have known that this was taking place. I also feel like more responsibility needs to be put on these children to be held accountable for their actions. The schools should implement some programs to prevent bullying. Such as, team work projects, international intergration programs, more mentor programs and try to be a bit more close to the children, most of all some they should have a monitoring system, because there is alot more going on in the school systems today.