Editor's Note: An internal DeKalb school district review of alleged bullying of an 11-year-old student who hanged himself has found no evidence the child was specifically targeted for bullying. Tune in tonight for an update to the story on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
Eleven year-old Jaheem Herrera was a good student who liked to draw and make new friends. Last week he came home smiling with a report card of all A's and B's. Shortly after his mother congratulated him with a high-five, Jaheem went up to his room, closed the door and killed himself. Concerned when he didn't come down for dinner, his mom and younger sisters found him hanging by his belt in the closet.
Jaheem lost his grandmother about six months ago and missed her but it was something at school that his mother believes pushed him to suicide. For the last eight months, the boy had been targeted by bullies because he was from the Virgin Islands and spoke with an accent. They called him "ugly," "The Virgin," and "gay."
CNN Senior National Editor
Armenian-Americans have April 24 circled on their calendars and they’ll be paying close attention to what President Obama says – or does not say – about that day.
Armenians call April 24 their day of remembrance, marking the day in 1915 that they say Turks began a campaign to destroy their community, a period of several years that resulted in deaths of between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenians.
The Armenians call it a genocide.
The Turks reject that language. From the Turkish perspective, there were killings, but on both sides of an ethnic conflict. World War I was underway, this was not a deliberate program to exterminate a people, the Turks say, and they claim that Armenians overstate the number of casualties.
“Race extermination” is what then-U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Henry Morgenthau Sr. called it in cables to the State Department. The word “genocide” itself did not enter the lexicon until some 30 years later.
Tonight, we continue our series "Secrets to a Long Fife." So far, in our reports from a Greek island, we've told you how sex, naps, and natural foods can help you live longer. Tonight, another secret revealed.
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Tonight on AC360°, we have new details on the medical student accused of being the so-called "Craigslist Killer."
We've learned Philip Markoff, 23, is on suicide watch at the Boston jail.
Markoff's suspected of killing a masseuse at a Boston hotel and robbing another at gunpoint. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
There's more on case. Randi Kaye just returned from Boston and will have a live report on the new developments.
We'll also take you live to Pakistan where Taliban fighters are dangerously close to the capital. Will they continue to try to spread Islamic law throughout the country or will Pakistan's military shut them down?
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From NPR's All Things Considered: An Air Force interrogator tried to stop the harsh techniques he witnessed in Iraq when he went there in 2003. But his efforts to halt abusive interrogations were rebuffed and, in his words, made him "the most unpopular officer" in Iraq.
Col. Steven Kleinman, an Air Force reservist and experienced intelligence officer, was mentioned in a report issued Wednesday by the Senate Armed Services on the abusive treatment of terrorism detainees.
The committee report mentions officials who went along with methods of questioning that some say amounted to torture. But it also mentions officers such as Kleinman, who was a lieutenant colonel at the time he tried to stop the use of those techniques.
Kleinman spoke with NPR's Robert Siegel about the situation he encountered when he was chosen to lead a team of interrogators questioning Iraqi insurgents during the early part of the war. He says he did not know until he arrived in Iraq that he would be witnessing an interrogation strategy that U.S. military personnel were trained to resist, in a program known as "SERE," to avoid techniques that produced bad intelligence.
Here are excerpts of that conversation:
SIEGEL: SERE. Explain what that was.
KLEINMAN: SERE is an acronym for survival, evasion, resistance and escape, and specifically, what we're talking about here is resistance-to-interrogation training, which is a very formal set of strategies and methods to resist hostile interrogation.
The origins of this as I understand it were during the Cold War - the U.S. trained its people in what might happen to them if they were taken hostage, say as POWs in Korea by the Chinese?
Precisely so. Even before the Korean War, during the Soviet show trials that occurred shortly after World War II, we as the U.S. government observed very odd and inexplicable behavior - people claiming to be CIA agents who weren't on the CIA payroll. More intelligence came in to describe these ? interrogation methods that were being used to compel people to produce what can be described as propaganda - a mixture of truth with a heavy overlay of falsehoods.
The CNN Wire
Who knew what, and when?
Those questions - focused on recently released Bush-era CIA memos detailing "enhanced interrogations" of suspected al Qaeda members - are now being posed inside the Beltway, as calls for an independent investigation into torture allegations have become louder.
House Minority Leader John Boehner said Thursday that the release of what he described as the "torture" memos is politically motivated. "Last week, they (Obama administration) released these memos outlining torture techniques. That was clearly a political decision and ignored the advice of their director of national intelligence (Dennis Blair) and their CIA director (Leon Panetta)," Boehner said.
Charles Robbins, Executive Director & CEO, The Trevor Project and
Eliza Byard, PhD, Executive Director, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
The impacts of language and behavior can be deadly, especially in a school environment where young people are already highly impressionable and vulnerable. Unfortunately, this difficult lesson has been conveyed many times when young people resort to drastic and permanent measures to escape the despair of enduring constant bullying and harassment at school.
It is deeply disturbing that on April 6, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Springfield, Mass., hanged himself with an extension cord in his family’s home after being subjected to continuous anti-gay bullying and harassment at his middle school. It is equally as disheartening that on April 16, less than two weeks later, Jaheem Herrera, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from DeKalb County, Ga., also hanged himself at home after being the subject of anti-gay taunts from his classmates. These were two completely separate and isolated instances, but the tragic and preventable nature of each unfortunate loss of life remains the same.
Neither Carl nor Jaheem identified as gay, yet their peers’ defamatory language and hurtful behaviors broke the barriers of sexual orientation and gender identity. Being taunted as “faggot,” “queer” or “homo” by classmates is offensive and demeaning to any student – straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning alike.
Carl is the fourth middle school student this year to complete suicide due to bullying, and Jaheem was still in elementary school. Older students are also at a high risk, as suicide is one of the top three causes of death among 15 to 24-year-olds and the second leading cause of death on college campuses. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and those who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to do so.
Two of the top three reasons secondary school students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive. In addition, The Trevor Project fields tens of thousands of calls from young people each year, both straight and LGBT-identified, with rejection and harassment by peers being one of the top five issues reported by callers.
In the same GLSEN and Harris report, more than a third of middle and high school students said that bullying, name-calling and harassment is a somewhat or very serious problem at their school. Furthermore, two-thirds of middle school students reported being assaulted or harassed in the previous year and only 41% said they felt safe at school.
Enough is enough. It is time for school administrators, educators, parents, students and the government to work together to stop bullying and harassment in schools. Furthermore, we must teach young people to understand the profound impact of words and actions, and to recognize depression and suicidal ideations amongst their peers. By helping young people take responsibility for their actions and respect their peers, and simultaneously empowering them with the knowledge and skills they need to understand when their classmates are in crisis, we can work toward ending the dual epidemics of school bullying and youth suicide once and for all.
We as parents, teachers and concerned citizens can do our part to protect students by speaking out and demanding that anti-bullying and harassment programs and suicide prevention education are mandated in all schools. We can seek commitment from the government to end bullying by training educators on how to effectively intervene, teaching students to respect and help one another, and ensuring that all students know how to reach out to a peer who may be in crisis. We must lead by example and remember that the language we choose is easily repeated by young people. We must listen to children when they reach out for help, and demonstrate to them that we will be understanding and non-judgmental if they need to talk.
Days like the GLSEN-sponsored National Day of Silence bring attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. On this day, thousands of students call for practical, appropriate interventions that work, hoping to move us closer to a future where every child can go to school free from fear. Weeks including the National Suicide Prevention Week encourage programs to increase suicide prevention efforts, including initiatives supported by The Trevor Project to protect LGBT youth.
It is our hope that in memory of Carl and Jaheem, and in honor of all young people who have completed suicide after enduring constant torment at school, we will be able to work together to promote school environments that celebrate diversity and encourage acceptance of all people. Only then will we be confident that our children are receiving the respect and education they deserve today in order to become the successful and equality-minded leaders of tomorrow.
The Trevor Project is the non-profit organization that operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The Trevor Project was established in 1998 to promote acceptance of LGBTQ youth, and to aid in crisis and suicide prevention among that group.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more on the Secrets to a Longer Life from Dan Buettner as he reports from the island of Ikaria. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
This week during the Blue Zones Quest, our science team, led by the esteemed Drs. Pes and Poulain, have conducted surveys with everyone they can find on the Greek island over age 90. These surveys take hours and involve asking patient, kindhearted islanders hundreds of profound questions–like what day is it and what they ate in 1923. If you conduct enough of these surveys and some real insights emerge.
We have, for example, discovered that NO ONE here suffers dementia. This is huge. Why? Half of Americans 95 and older suffer dementia - from Alzheimer’s disease or the ravages of poor brain circulation, something called vascular dementia.
Not here on Ikaria, a small and remote island. People here are staying sharp to the very end. That means that the Ikarian lifestyle yields not only more life, but better life, too.
We've also discovered that all of the old, quick-witted grown ups had drunk teas from wild herbs for most of their lives.
Robert D. Kaplan
The statelessness of Palestinian Arabs has been a principal feature of world politics for more than half a century. It is the signature issue of our time. The inability of Israelis and Palestinians to reach an accord of mutual recognition and land-for-peace has helped infect the globe with violence and radicalism—and has long been a bane of American foreign policy. While the problems of the Middle East cannot be substantially blamed on the injustice done to Palestinians, that injustice has nonetheless played a role in weakening America’s position in the region.
Obviously, part of the problem has been Israeli intransigence. Despite seeming to submit to territorial concessions, one Israeli government after another has quietly continued to bolster illegal settlements in the occupied territories. The new Israeli government may be the worst yet: Its foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, is so extreme in his anti-Arab views that he makes the right-wing Likud prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appear like the centrist he isn’t. The prospects for peace under this government are fundamentally bleak.
And yet this Israeli government faithfully represents the Israeli electorate, which is in utter despair over the impossibility of finding credible partners on the Palestinian side with which to negotiate. Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. President Mahmoud Abbas’s more moderate Fatah movement may be willing to live in peace with Israel, but it has insufficient political legitimacy among Palestinians to negotiate such a deal. With Fatah and Hamas facing off against each other, the Palestinians are simply too divided to plausibly meet Israel across the table. And because the Palestinians are unable to cut a deal, a majority of Israelis, as shown by the recent election results, have apparently given up any hope for peace.