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?