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February 25th, 2008
09:27 PM ET

When does bullying become a hate crime?

Tonight, in addition to an interview with Ralph Nader, who this weekend announced he is running for president, we are focusing on a story that hasn’t received the attention it deserves.

The story is about a young man named Lawrence King. He was 15 years old. On the morning of February 12, a classmate of Lawrence’s allegedly walked into the computer lab in front of some two dozen other students and shot Lawrence in the head.

He was declared brain dead later at the hospital. According to authorities, this was not a random killing, it was a hate crime. Lawrence had recently told people he was gay, and apparently wore clothing that was viewed as effeminate.

According to many accounts he had been bullied repeatedly, and some parents have even claimed students knew of threats to Lawrence’s life. At this point it doesn’t seem clear how much school officials knew of the bullying, but a full investigation needs to be done. If this had been an African-American student bullied by a teenage skinhead would it have received more attention?

Would school officials have taken it more seriously if it had been a Christian campus leader attacked by another student because of his/her religious beliefs? I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I do think they are worth asking.

Bullying is a problem in schools across the country. We’ve seen this time and time again. Is enough being done to stop it?

We’ll be looking into the facts surrounding the murder of Lawrence King, and we’ll talk with Dr. Charles Sophy, the medical director of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services.

- Anderson Cooper


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