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."
His mother tells me she complained frequently to school officials but the bullying continued. When Jaheem killed himself, he became the second 11 year-old boy in less than a month to choose suicide as the only way to escape relentless bullying.
One expert told me how this is a wake up call that everyone should pay attention to. One study shows 65 percent of teens are bullied in a single year. Bullies have been around since there have been schools. My question is, "Why did we need a wake up call at all?"
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