April 24th, 2009
07:32 PM ET

Bullying: A failure in the system?

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more from David Mattingly on the story on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

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David Mattingly | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Jaheem Herrera was a brand new student this year at Dunaire Elementary School near Atlanta. He had been excited at first, and looked forward to making new friends. Instead, he was mocked, taunted and harassed by bullies, more and more over his eight months at the school. And then, just 11 years old, he decided he couldn't endure it any more, and hanged himself in his closet.

How could a child be forced to such an extreme act in such a short time?

It's not like he was suffering in silence. Jaheem told his mother about the verbal abuse - and one physical assault. His mother says she complained multiple times to school officials. And this is a school system that experts say had a progressive anti-bullying policy.

Jaheem's complaints should have been taken seriously and adults in the school should have intervened. Did they?

Next week, School Board officials will speak publicly for the first time about Jaheem's death and the bullying that parents say goes on unabated at his school. Here's what a press release says about that event:

"We want to reassure the community that this is an important concern to DeKalb County School System. We care about the well-being of all of our students. We are committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for them to learn. DeKalb County School System will continue to reinforce our policies/programs to address behaviors that are unacceptable."

I'm sorry, but this is not enough.

An 11 year-old child who should have been preoccupied with things like Wii and comic books found his life so miserable and meaningless that he ended it. Where was this "safe and nurturing environment" when he needed it? This is not a failure of a system or a program, this is a catastrophe.

His mother tells me that Jaheem had long been upset over the death of his grandmother. But even if he were depressed and vulnerable, professionals at the school should have been putting a halt to the bullying that made his life hell.

The tormenting that he was subjected to every week should never have happened a second time. No amount of official "reassurance" will ever change that.

Filed under: 360º Follow • David Mattingly • Education
soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    I speak from experience. My heart goes out to this boy and his family. I grew up in a small rural midwest town. I was bullied from 7th grade till 12th grade. I was called these ugly "gay" names. I was pushed, kicked, spit on, and even had broken bones and brusies. For six years this went on. Everyday from the bus ride all day and till the bus ride home. I begged my mother not to make me go to school. My mom went to the school several times. This story reads like dito dito dito to me. I was so moved tonight that I had to register here on CNN and vent. As in my case there were teachers and staff present during much of my being bullied. As I am sure teachers and staff observed this little boy being bullied. In the halls in the gym in the lunchroom and on the bus. Yet they all turned a blind eye. It was allowed. Being a gay kid I guess they thought I had it coming to me. It is accepted to make fun of gay people. Hate crimes occur everyday in America. Whether this boy was gay or not he was labeled as such and what was done to him was allowed to happen. There are those at his school that knew of this I know this. Gay Americans are discrimiated against and the legal system and society turn a blind eye to it. We are the last minority that it is legal to do so to. It just makes me sick. I am sad to see that this child had to go through this. That he could not take it any longer. It brings up so much anger and hurt inside me. From my past and to what I still deal with today. This only makes me wonder how I made it and how I can go on in this world that hates me and others suspected or are like me.

    April 25, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  2. Julianne Lewis

    "Investigating" and "reassuring" is not acceptable. If this school has policies and procedures they are clearly not working - at this school or many schools in the nation. Administrators turn a blind eye on this behavior and don't discuss matters with parents or teachers because of "policies and procedures." This makes it even harder for teachers to help students since we don't know who is being bullied. The policies need to be changed into something that works for students and teachers. The administrators and lawyers don't matter. The safety of our kids and the people in the classrooms with them does! We need help.!

    April 25, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  3. fran cooperman-pfaff

    I am disgusted with what the superintendent and others connected with the school system who have said how well the programs for anti bullying were going at the school where the 11 year old killed himself because he was bullied. I am a former teacher and I know that you just cannot have students sign a paper and hope they will follow what it says. Bottom line, where was the principal during recess, at lunch, before and after school? Where were the teachers that he could go to for assurance? Who was on yard duty keeping this child safe and secure? No one, that is obvious. The school has an assembly about not hating your neighbour. Then, they back off and expect everything to work. Having worked in schools for 30 years I know that teachers and principals have to be on site monitoring the halls, the playgrounds and the busing. You can bet this was not done or this poor child would still be alive. We have heard no mention of meetings between the mother of this child and the parents of the bullies. Get real, they did nothing but sit in their classrooms and hope that what the SAID sunk in. it didn't.

    April 25, 2009 at 10:58 pm |
  4. E. Cochran

    What an excellent article. "Catastrophe" is precisely the right word for this horrible tragedy. It is very sad and disturbing, and the school board's response is ridiculous.

    I would prefer that my name not be used if this comment is published. Thank you.

    April 25, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  5. mac

    people no longer care for each other like before. times have really changed; house closures, increases in daily commodities, layoffs, business closures.

    its getting rougher out there. kids come from countries that have family power that stick together and help others. then they come to the u.s. and find out that togetherness just work here.

    look at the school killings that are shaping the country. the true americans dont even own the u.s. anymore its the foreigners. how many buildings are owned by arabs in new york. the u.s. has changed in the last 50 years, its not the same anymore and it will get worse in the next 18 to 24 months.....

    April 25, 2009 at 9:13 pm |
  6. Alison

    The problem as I see it, is that children are no longer held to a standard of discpline. They are not afraid to be disrespectful or bully, because we have raised a generation of over indulged brats who have no boundaries and wouldn't know the first time about conscequences. We need to instill a moral code back into the home and school. Here's a thought instead of telling Johnny if he'll please not skip school he'll get a new cell, let's try "go to school or stay in your room until your 40".....and mean it! Alison from Canada

    April 25, 2009 at 8:34 pm |
  7. Jake

    School officials do not understand. Bullies cause teenagers to bring guns to school and kill other students and teachers who would not stop the bullying and picking.

    April 25, 2009 at 8:12 pm |
  8. Sherre McFadden

    I really appreciated your coverage on this topic. My son, who is a military child was a victim of bullying. After making attempts to talk with the parents of the children who were doing the bullying, I felt discouraged. The parents thought of their children actions as being no big deal. I even attempted to discus it with the Youth Center staff and they pretty much blew me off. The director actually said, "well, if we don't see it ourselves, then it's out of our jurisdiction." I was in awe. To know that individuals who say they care for children and are in position to impact our children can so easily turn a blind eye to a child being victimized. It seems adults in decision-making position only want to get involved if they can persecute a parent for defending their child. I expect more from staff who work on military installations.

    April 25, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  9. barbara greely

    I am sick to my stomach hearing about the school ignoring Jaheem's cry for help.The officials of this school should be locked up with some hardcore criminals so they can be bullied. My daughter has been harrassed,bullyed, taunted,teased, had her belongings taken and thrown in the trash,been harrased for praying at lunchtime.We have been in this school district for four years now.Unfortunatly we do not have the means to move at this time. Afew years ago, my daughter wrote a sucide note because shecouldn't take the bullying any longer.She had to attend months of therepy just to learn how to cope with these bullies. After months of fighting with the school,I finally had a meeting with the parents and the problem ended.Things were good until now.My daughter now a freshman in high school,is being bullied worse than ever. The school calls this kids stuff. If some of these things were isolated incidents they might be considered kid stuff.Compounded they are clearly bullying.The vice pricipal is taking out the fact the I am complaining out on my daughter.I have months of documentation.I don't know where to turn.My daughter's grades have been affected.One of the girls bullying my daughter has been suspended for bullying others this year.I believe it was actually assault she was suspended for.Yet the school does nothing to help my daughter.The group of girls has grown from one to three and there are atleast 12 more allienating my daughter because of these girls.The bullying policy in our town is very vague and there is no program in affect to enforce it.I don't no where to turn.My daughter is terrified of what these girls may do.

    April 25, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  10. RuthAnne in Colorado

    We need to teach our children unkind words are not acceptable. Words may be funny to you, but they can deeply hurt others. This boy suffered too much in such a short life, and now his family must suffer for the rest of theirs. I understand from other stories the boy was reluctant to name the exact bullies and I blame the school officials. He should have been encouraged in a safe environment to name them. These same bullies are now at home being told by their mothers that they are 'special' and 'how could you have known he would kill himself?'. This boy was 'special' as well, and they could have known, if the parents had taught them. What would those parents feel if their child was the one to commit suicide? By the way, I have 3 kids I teach compassion and empathy and most of all, personal responsibility to every single day. They can be taught to recognize the hurt caused by a careless comment or gesture. It is up to us, as parents.

    April 25, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  11. Peg Williams

    This is the second 11-year-old in a couple of weeks to have committed suicide because of "gay" bullying. The other one was in Mass. What happened to the zero tolerance policies that were such a big deal after Columbine? Were they just too much trouble to carry out? When are our public school administrators going to accept the responsibilities they are supposed to adhere to? Losing one child to bullying is far too many. In an era of extraordinary technology and communications techniques, we can't figure out how to deal with bullying..............makes me furious.

    April 25, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  12. Patrick Harnish

    It is true the school could have done more, but so could have the mother. Suffering a traumatic instance with a death in the family is never easy. I can tell you first hand what that is like. When my grandmother died, I also felt alone, and very hurt. I didn't have the resources to cope with it. People have to start recognizing when their children are hurting, and get them to the apropriate help. The abuse that stemmed from the school added to that already stressed child. The school should also have qualified counselors that are able to detect depression in children. Come on people this is common sense, when you see a child acting differently, down, or anything else, we have to act in a manner that is supportive and the child is able to understand and cope with losses. The abuse recieved in a school system is not tolerable anymore, and we have senseless deaths stemming from kids falling through the cracks.

    April 25, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  13. Hayme E.

    Mr. Cooper,
    I thank you so much for sharing this story. Jaheem is my husbands cousins(Masika) son. We are totally distraught and in so much emotional pain as to what happened. We just want to thank you for sharing this story as we are all hoping that this does not happen to yet another child. Unfortunately it is too late for Jaheem but we pray that his story will aid in stopping the bullying that is happen to so many beautiful children.

    God Bless.

    April 25, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Parents also need to observe their childrens intereaction with other children away from school. I have an 11 year old grandson and it's about keeping our children busy in activities and building social skills; we enroll our child in football, hockeye, boyscouts, basketball, car racing, wrestling, volunteer in school activities such as parent school boards and also make sure we know his friends parents. Some of these activities do require money but there are so many resources to help with expenses, we cannot make excuses for doing nothing or complaining we don't have the time. Get the community involved and you would be surprised at the results.

    April 25, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  15. Greenwich Diva

    The school failed this boy and his family.

    The first time a kid or a parent complains about a child being bullied, the school should have a meeting with ALL parties involved.

    If there is a second incident with the same child, then the child should be suspended.

    A third time, the child should be expelled.

    That being said, parents need to be accountable for their children. If parents teach their kids that bullying is not acceptable then the Jaheem’s of the world would be alive today.

    April 25, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  16. Tammy

    The school system statement sounds like a bunch of hooey their lawyers told them to say. I'd ask for them to show me where the anti-bullying program works. Show numbers where events decreased long-term after the intervention. Show where this child's issues were an isolated event. And then show that this school did everything in its power to stop what happened to that child. Look at the administrators; look at the counselors (if they even have them because where I'm at elementary schools don't have counselors on-site every day and the counselors in secondary are nothing more than glorified paper pushers). I really doubt this program is all that great. I also doubt they really tried that hard to help this child and remove the bullies. I have come to the conclusion that the only thing school administrators at the district (and unfortunately in some cases school) level get is lawsuit. It's all about image and nothing about the kids when incidents like this are allowed to happen. Keep on it. I pray this family finds peace someday in all of this.

    April 25, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  17. Wendy Tate

    I agree whole heartedly that schools are responsible for creating a safe atmosphere for learning and bullying should be addressed immediately. BUT I do not feel as if the responsibility lies on the school alone. Every day we deal with students who come to us from dysfunctional homes where cursing, yelling and name calling are the norm at home. YES! Really, the norm at their home. It takes a lot of our time as teachers to teach the appropriate way to act in society to change that. Oh yeah and teach them how to read, write and multiply!
    I would wager to guess that bullying is a problem in almost every school and most schools are committed to dealing with it, but it will not be solved in the school alone and can not be expected to be solved in the school alone. When I was growing up if you misbehaved you were kicked out of class. Now there has to be a paper trail listing every intervention tried before you send a student to be reprimanded. How much bullying has taken place by then? Every child deserves a free and appropriate education, that includes the bullies. How wonderful it would be to change their demeanor over night, but it takes a lot of teaching and redirection to change a pattern of behavior only to have every behavior that is taught to be wrong be modeled at home. Not only is it important to teach our children how to treat others respectfully, but we as parents and teachers also need to build our childrens self esteem and teach them how to deal with bullies. This is a herculean effort that involves more than just teachers and adminstrators! Parents have to be involved too.

    April 25, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  18. Kathy George

    Thank you David Mattingly for speaking the truth. I live in DeKalb County and am familiar with the school system. I can assure you that there was and is no "progressive anti bullying policy," in place in these schools. There are and have been parents voicing their concerns all over DeKalb County regarding their childs lack of safety in school.

    April 25, 2009 at 9:51 am |
  19. glenn

    It has been reported that this little boy was being bullied about being gay. This is the problem. You can get away with anti-gay comments in school, when racial slurs would never be tolerated. This is what should be reported on. This is the issue. I saw it with my own eyes, and know many other gay people who agree.

    Teachers just let it go. Ruined lives result.

    April 25, 2009 at 6:53 am |
  20. Anna Kamaka

    Both of my sons ages 8 and 10 were being bullied by the same boy at school. They endured constant teasing and name calling, they were slapped, pushed, kicked, spat at and had their school lunches dumped on top of them. I had been to the school many times complaining about this particular boy and each time I was made to feel as if it was my boys who started it all. My sons have never fought back, they have come home on many occaisons with cuts,scratches, bruises and once my 8 year old came home with a big knot on his head that was the size of a golfball and a 2 inch scar below his eye where he was stabbed in the face with a pencil. In both of these incidents the school never called me. Even though it happened inside of the classroom, the teacher denied that it occurred.
    The schools claim no tolereance when it comes to bullying and yet when it happens, the either deny it or try to shift blame toward the victims. They dont want to take responsability and still want to say that theyre schools are safe. Bullying should be considered a crime and punishment should be given to these abusers. Because thats what these bullies are ABUSERS!

    April 25, 2009 at 5:13 am |
  21. Colleen Claypoole

    My daughter, Kelly, was a victim of bullying in 1995. She was in 8th grade, attending St Jeromes in NE Philade. A group of the "cool girls" tortured her and the school tolerated the behavior.
    The first time I was made aware was an early Monday morning. I received a call from CORA informing me that Kelly had made a threat on her life. CORA advised me to have her evaluated immediately at the Fairmont Institute, which I did.
    One of the hardest things I had to do was admit her against her will, based on the experts opinion. Here she is in her catholic uniform, very timid and scared. I cried for days wondering if I did the right thing.
    I never saw this coming and felt like a failure as a parent. A few days later I went to St Jeromes to get Kelly's schoolwork. The principal, at that time, approached me, I thought, to see how my daughter and family were managing through these difficult times. Instead, she never asked about Kelly but advised me to find Kelly another school to finish out her last 4 months of 8th grade. I lcould not believe what was happening. My daughter was the one being punished, not the bullies. I immediately called my Pastor, Father Graham, to tell him what happened and to seek much-needed support. I was told he was unavailable and still to this day I am waiting for him to return my call.
    Fortunately ,Fairmont Institute was getting their hands around what was really going on and being tolerated at St Jeromes. The Institute stepped in and over-ruled St Jeromes. They sent a crisis management team to the school and talked to both the 7th & 8th graders. Kelly finished out her 4 months and selected a high school away from the bullies, where she got a fresh start and thrived! We were one of the fortunate ones, but it rips my heart out everytime I hear of another victim, especially those you followed thru & took their life. That could have been my Kelly!

    April 25, 2009 at 3:31 am |
  22. Christy denise

    My 13yr old son has been bullied since he started the 6th grade this year. Kids have harassed and assaulted him in class at lunch and on the bus my husband and i have reported it to the school princip and staff also transportation authority where they have a video of my son being beat up and defending himself for the first time since august2008 we have spoke to every school official and had conferences nothing has yet been taken care of and a bullying packet was suppose to be started but yet still ignored my son has xyy syndrome where he has speech promblems and has redhair but if he played sports he would be in their so called clicks my son makes straight a and b report card with a perfect attendance since kindergarden. Every day at school he is physically hurt by more than one child and the teachers end up suspending my son for defending himself for the first time in a year hes in a depression and we dont understand why we cant get help.this needs to stop while the bullies dont get suspended or in trouble..

    April 25, 2009 at 3:20 am |
  23. Mark Patterson

    I know all too well how these two children felt; I was bullied in the same manner all through Elementary School. The other children called me terrible things – gay, queer, fag, you name any derogatory homosexual slur and I was probably called it. It is a terrible feeling to know that you are getting up every morning and embarking on a 7 hour stint of mental torture. The children were relentless, as well as a teacher also. I was in sixth grade attending my daily English lesson. The teacher, a male, was discussing homonyms and homophones. After saying the words homonym and homophone, he then looked at me and said, "Homo – that is something you ought to know a lot about Patterson." At my sixth grade banquet, I was attacked while trying to use the restroom by another male student. My life was almost literal hell to the point that there is not much that I can remember from those 7 years, good or bad. I was almost a social outcast; congregating with the other children who were taunted for various reasons. Thankfully for me, I was close to the principal of the school due to my enrollment in the Gifted Enrichment Program. My mother alerted him to the taunts by students and faculty, and I received an apology from the teacher. This sort of thing is nothing new. Children can say some of the most terrible things; things that will stick with the victim for all of their lives. I know those words still make me cringe no matter where I hear them. My heart goes to the families and loved ones of those poor, poor boys. I have been there and I understand. May god bless.

    April 25, 2009 at 3:13 am |
  24. donna

    The schools don't protect the children from bulling they stand back
    and watch,it's happening at our schools too,the principle nor the
    teachers do anything about it,they want even call the parents or say
    anything the the student that's doing the bulling. It should be something we as parents can do,if not nothing we should be
    able to sue the schools for neglect or failure to protect;For the
    simple reason when their at school their under their supervision
    until returned home.I believe that affects a child mental health and
    cause real bad things too happen,so please help us and others
    too find a way to stop this,an example need to be put in action
    against the schools ASAP.

    April 25, 2009 at 3:11 am |
  25. gary

    My son just came home with a playstation 2 pgm called bully. I've look at this game and would like to know if these games add to the problem of school bullying? If so, what can we do?
    Gary Sewell
    Belgorod, Russia

    April 25, 2009 at 3:08 am |
  26. Graciela

    My heart and prayers are with the families of these children. The schools are to blame with their spineless anti-harassment and bully ing policies that are as senselss as the way in which these children died. School districts need to put some bite into existing policies to let kids know this type of conduct will not be tolerated. However, they will continue to take the ostrich approach –that way they are not culpable. It's easier to blame others, that way, you don't have to do anything about the problem (and don't assume the risk).

    April 25, 2009 at 3:06 am |
  27. Nathan Trombley

    First God bless these two angels and their families. Secondly, not saying that either of these young men were infact gay, the actual solution is not within the schools but society itself. Being a gay person has been the target of "bullying" of society. As a gay person I am considered "less than", not deserving of all my rights and inferior to those who are not gay(or hiding).
    We can impliment all the programs in the world in schools to stop this type of bullying, but until society accepts gay citizens as equal, to make a kid feel inferior...call them gay. Society hates gays. When you're young and your are labeled as gay whether you are or not, you know that gays are hated. You are hated.
    So, until the day that the stigma of being "gay" is removed, we can assume we will be losing more angels to the bullying that school age children see that society condones. Very, very sad comment on our society.

    April 25, 2009 at 3:05 am |
  28. Sherry Buffington

    Both of the eleven year old boys who hung themselves as a result of being bullied were feeling males who did not fit the macho, thinking male stereotype. It is highly likely that neither of them were "gay".

    As a psychologist that specializes in natural personality traits and how they express in both sexes, I have seen many heterosexual adult males who are feeling types that report that they were bullied as children and called gay simply because they didn't fit the rough and tumble stereotype. Many of them still wear the scars of that teasing and bullying.

    Feeling types, both male and female, are deeply emotional and prone to extreme behaviors when their emotions are raw. They are not thinking in those moments, just feeling deeply and responding to the feelings.

    We hear the phrase "drama queen" and think young girls, but there are males who have that same personality and, when they do, few manage their emotions well when they are young. It is the out there, dramatic emotions that often result in boys being called gay,

    I can tell you from looking at pictures of Jaheem and Cole and reading their mothers' descriptions that both of these boys that were feeling males.

    Stereotypes are dangerous things. Females who come into the world as strong, thinking types get labled "Tom Boy" or called "butch" (implying gay) and young boys with warm, tender hearts get labeled "sissy" and called "gay".

    We need more than just anti-bullying policies in schools. We need educational programs that teach children, as well as teachers and parents, that there are tender, feeling males and determined, thinking females and that both are not just perfectly normal, but real assets to society. Diversity education really needs to be as much about natural personality traits as race, culture, age and gender. Only when we have learned that there is no perfect way to be male or female will tragedies like this end.

    April 25, 2009 at 2:46 am |
  29. Yunuen Cisneros

    Hello Anderson: we live in Denver, Colorado; where unfortunatelly we have suffered bullying in our schools, you will imagine that what happen in Columbine, make school directors and teachers stop any problem.
    School officials do NOT DO ANYTHING when a kid is being bullying or punch every other day. The antibullying classes are justo to empower bullies, they meet with the kids every week and when kids say what is happening, they say stop being the victim, walk away, and for the few kids that stand up for themselves or others they get more agressions.
    My youngest daughter when she was in first grade she got sick 26 day of the year almost a month, the truth she was affraid to go to school, because the teacher never stop the kids that were punching her, and the social worker told them that they shouldnt tell there parents, she never and still doesnt feel safe.
    Many teachers and the past principal me because I go to complain a lot, because there is no disipline, like if teacher were affraid of the kids .
    I"m very tired of these situation, and teachers minimaze the problem.
    School officials should be punished because they don't do anything to stop bullies, they won't even call the parents and tell, how there kids behave

    April 25, 2009 at 2:44 am |
  30. joey c

    it's whats taught by toleration in schools. instead of socialization, co-operation, helping others, problem conflict resolution, american schools foster competition amond children. flat out wrong for early social development. pecking order cra#.

    April 25, 2009 at 2:41 am |
  31. Rebecca Higgins

    I can not believe this is airing in Houston TX this moment, while I am on the phone with my cousin in Palestine TX... where as i'm watching this... school bullying has gone way overboard! The school bullies that have sent her son to the hospital twice THIS WEEK are now climbing over her fence to continue what started at WESTWOOD High School...where it has been and continues to be overlooked and administrators refuse to report these incidents to the police....now are attacking the entire family in their home...the police are in route to their home now...

    How can school staff and admistrators refuse to protect their students? This could have all been prevented!!!!

    April 25, 2009 at 2:39 am |
  32. Sarah

    The school system don't need to suspend kids (they think that is a vacation) They need to make a 3 strikes system what i mean is , warn them 2 times on the 3 time make them go to Summer School and I guarantee they will stop this behavior !! Cause no kid would want to give there summer up !!! I was bullied as a child , and to get right to the point "The rumor was spread that i had aids ( which was not true ) spit wodds were threw in my hair ,i had to eat lunch alone, it went on for so long that it carried over into my home life, everywhere i went they would go and taunt me! the school system would do nothing!! i went into the hospital for depression as a child and thought about killing myself ! Noone realizes the effects this has on your life even as an adult , you always seem to feel like that little kid that got bullied! So this is far more than just kids saying mean things!

    April 25, 2009 at 2:19 am |
  33. Richard

    AC, thank you for putting a spotlight on this problem.

    Our whole society needs to rise up and demand an end to bullying of any child, and to bullying of the minority gay and lesbian children in particular.

    With Hitler in mind, we should also stand up against all bullying of minority adults as well.

    Sadism seems to be main emotion, so we should do what we can to make bullying painful for the bully rather than fun.

    April 25, 2009 at 2:12 am |
  34. Robert Hughes

    Here is my suggestion to help avert such tragic and unescessary
    deaths. Make a video of this young person's life ending with his funeral and on a given day have it played to every shool child in North America. "Call it Anti-Bullying Day".

    April 25, 2009 at 2:01 am |
  35. Sarah

    It is so sad what has happened to this sweet innocent child. I have a son myself and it sickens me that the mother said she told school officials. I thought a school is somewhere where a child is supposed to feel safe and learn. How is that possible I the school doesn't take bullying seriously. My prayers are with the mother and family. May God bless and help them in this time of need.

    April 25, 2009 at 1:56 am |
  36. Christiane

    Bullying in school? How about bullying in the workplace.
    I go through it everyday. From calling me names to making up false rumors, laughing out loud when I walk around. Mostly I stop and think: what do they teach their children at home – bullying mine in school?


    April 25, 2009 at 1:49 am |
  37. Marv

    Horrible I say Horrible.

    April 25, 2009 at 1:46 am |
  38. Nadee

    What's worries me most is that a 11years old child know about hanging and suicide.

    April 25, 2009 at 1:20 am |
  39. Fernando F.

    where are the teachers, the experts, the psychologists in those schools with bullies? Isn't anybody watching the kids interacting during lunch hour, on their breaks? Who is spotting the lonely kids, the kids being suddenly surrounded by a group of kids? Somebody has to watch the kids when they think nobody is watching them, and find the lonely kids, the kids pushing around other kids, and start working on them, when they are young, not teenagers. So much money goes into education, culture, and nothing goes to teaching values, behaviour, how to resolve problems.

    April 25, 2009 at 1:20 am |
  40. J Constantino

    Bullying of any kind is completely unacceptable in any situation. Parents of school children typically believe the intervention should begin at school; I disagree. The intervention should begin at home. Parents race to step in with issues involving drugs and alcohol; why, then, do we attribute bullying to a 'right of passage?' To where? I am a teacher, and I have a ten-year old son and two daughters. During an instance in my son's fourth-grade year, he was being teased and called gay. In response, I sent an email to all of his male-classmate's parents and let them know that while I encourage the children to reach reasonable conclusions to their disagreements, I would, in no way, tolerate hurtful and esteem-crushing taunts as part of that process. I encouraged the parents to contact me if specific issues about my son were being raised by their own children, and if my son, in turn, was using bullying tactics during his school day. I also reminded these parents that we, as parents, are the leaders in our children's lives, and we have wonderful opportunities to shape whole, contributing members of our future communities. Didn't work with some of the children; they continue to bully while their parents continue to deny.

    April 25, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  41. Michael Shaw / frank stout

    was bullied in school. it was mercilous. i know the pain that these children are facing and the fact that they felt they had to end their lives to escape it breaks my heart into a million pieces. i cried when i heard about each of these tragedies. IT HAS TO BE STOPPED! i think that someone has to be PROSECUTED for these trajedies and i would focuss on the school systems. I THINK THAT ANY STUDENT CAUGHT BULLYING SHOULD BE SUSPENDED IMMEDIATELY. these are not suicides, they are murders committed by crazy religeous bigots, misguided parents, and noncaring school officials. these monsters condem gay people and try to instill fear and hatred into their children.

    April 25, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  42. teresa rayburn

    where are the monitors in school that would have prevented this?
    should anyone be made to endure fear and terror in a center of learning when all they deserve is a safe, calm, and friendly place to learn in?

    it is not right at all

    April 25, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  43. Jennifer

    Wow! I got the same response when I went to the school about the bullying of my son! That must just be the standard response. Even after a DEATH, that is the best response they can give. What a shame! Again, all of the policies/programs in the world are not enough if the staff and administration don't follow through. Our school district proved that they could not protect my son, so I had to. They fed me the same lines that are quoted above about their "committment to providing a safe and nuturing environment....."blah blah blah. My prayers go out to the families that are going through this. May God give you peace.

    April 25, 2009 at 12:28 am |
  44. Judy Jabri

    My son who was a high school student was bullied and finally attacked by 15 boys. He was severly hurt and sent to the hospital. All the students at the high school had shown up to see my son beat up.
    It has been 8 yrs since the attack, and he still suffers from the trauma of being attacked because his dad is from overseas. My son is getting mental help and doing better today, but still lives at home. There was a newspaper article about us back in 1996 of the attack, put out by the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

    April 25, 2009 at 12:02 am |
  45. vivian

    My son just turned 12. Last year he loved going to school. This year all he talks about is dieing. And how much better things would be if he weren't here. Kids at school really get down on him. And kids in the neighborhood. He is canstantly being called fat, stupid, gay.
    My son barely eats, barely sleeps, sees a councelor at school once a week. But still nothing is getting done. I have gone to the principal, teachers, and Diocese. And yet nothing is getting done. His councelor called me one day and said about viewing a movie with the class on bullying. And still nothing. My son is going thru hell and the schools just simply do not care. My son has no friends and stays to himself. He is drifting away from me . I don't know where else to turn.

    April 25, 2009 at 12:02 am |
  46. Wayne Shaddick

    Outraged! I'm an educator, parent, gay man. CNN " is an education system liable?" Is a parent? Does this happen when a parent says, "gay is ok and I love you straight or gay."

    April 24, 2009 at 11:56 pm |
  47. Terri Hambrecht

    there are an awful lot like me ...............
    I'm disgusted with the way people raise their kids.
    Just because you can breed does not mean you should..

    Every time I go to ANY store I want to spank other people's kids.\
    I was brought up that way, I never sassed back or made anyone feel bad about themselves. EVER.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
  48. Gilberto M Howard

    I believe that parents are responsible for their kids being bullies, I always told my kids about not doing to others what they did not want done to them and I let them know that if a bully would hit them or bother them I would speak to the parent and if nothing was done then I would beat the parent.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:53 pm |
  49. Sumiko

    So far Mr. Mattingly, these articles are great to read. The question is always the same for me, what can we do and why isn't it every one's problem?

    April 24, 2009 at 11:49 pm |
  50. Stephen R. Collier

    Policy doesn't come close to cutting it here. A serious and comprehensive program is needed to combat bullying.

    1) Constant surveillance is needed throughout the schools, in the class and in the halls. There will be cases where the bullied don't come forward and these cases need to be detected. There are many good reasons to consider putting in a thorough security camera system in the schools and little reason not to. Cameras are liberating to good and honest people.

    2) The adults in the school system MUST react to reports of bullying. There should be zero tolerance of letting these reports slide. They should be well trained on exactly what to do when bullying is reported to them. They should collect evidence and interview those involved to get a complete picture of what's happening.

    3) The school kids need to be trained at least a couple times a year on how to handle bullying. They should know who they can go to to report bullying that is happening to them. They should be trained to report bullying that they witness and there should be consequences if they fail to report it. All kids should be made aware that bullying comes from character weakness and they should be trained to feel shame for any bullying they do, or feel uncomfortable with any bullying they witness.

    4) Bullies need to be sent to specifically created courses when they are caught bullying so that they can be made very aware that their behavior is not acceptable. This includes those children who act along with the initial bully. Each offense they have should be met with increased punishment and training. If they can't modify their behavior then they should be separated from the general school population.

    It may seem harsh, but people should not be comfortable with bullying and they should know that they need to actively work to get rid of this problem.

    Virginia Beach

    April 24, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
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