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April 24th, 2009
08:58 AM ET

Video: Bullied boy hanged self

A Georgia boy who was bullied in school and called "gay" and "the virgin" hanged himself in his closet.

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Tom

    This story hurts me and hits me right to the core. I have been taking bullying of this nature since I was in the 6th grade and I am in the 12 grade now. I am not gay, but i have been called gay and asked if I was gaty at least 5 times a day for the last 6 years of my life. I tried to commit suicide in 10th grade and luckily I stopped before I actually did any damage to myself. Something needs to be done about this. The word "gay' is still used when talking about someone liking a member of the same sex. Bullying needs to stop. No one should have to be verbally abused. Everyone may get teased a little bit, but bullying to this degree or any degree is wrong. My prayers and thoughts go out to this family and people need to start keeping a better eye out for bullying and something needs to be done.

    April 26, 2009 at 12:10 am |
  2. JJ

    are you serious I have a copy of a class list that was passed around in my son's classroom, it list all the students in that class and next to their names a comment is listed, let me tell you that "Gay" is not a good thing to be called by a student it is bullying, lets stop making excuses for these kids. " Bullying is a concious , willful and deliberate hostile activity inted to harm and induce fear" quote from Barbara Coloroso's book the Bully , the Bullied and the Baystander. We need to educate ourselves and break this cycle, we are the only one that can give these kids the tools to break free. What will it take more violence or more kids killing themselves because they can't stop the pain? The names the kids are being called on the list I have are " Homo, The Fag, kid with gay glasses, Idiot, Dorky, Mommy's boy, Idiot, retard, etc....

    Now tell me again that GAY is not said to hurt!

    April 24, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  3. Misty K

    I'm saddened that this child took his life. But when I was growing up bullies were a part of life. Even if you were the richest, best looking kid somebody was going to talk about you. "Stick and Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." This is how I raise my son. With all the anti-bully laws in effect now we shouldn't have something like this happen right??? Instead of trying to stop bullying why don't teach kids the skills to deal with it.

    April 24, 2009 at 8:58 pm |
  4. Joe

    Kids bullying other kids in school is not only prevalent in the United States.
    I was raised in Mexico and was bullied relentlessly from age 8 to age 15 for "appearing" gay. I never told my parents because I was ashamed of it. Things got better when learned how to "behave" to be invisible from other kids. It was a horrific time in my life. One year, my grades dropped dramatically because I would not go to school. I would jump the fence and wonder the street or the park. I was just very afraid to go to school.
    It makes me sad that a lot of kids go through similar experiences and adults do not do much about it. I did think of killing myself many times. Guess did not have the courage to go through with it.
    I hope legislation change to give those kids an opportunity to grow up safe and have healthier lives.

    April 24, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  5. Jane

    This is simply unacceptable. Schools NEED to be paying attention and taking action. Unfortunately, when we cut funding and cut funding, there aren't enough teachers and almost NO support staff to follow up on these issues. Then, if they throw kids out for bullying, they lose THAT money too. No, I am not saying that money is more important than our children. I am simply saying that we need to fund our schools, volunteer in our schools, and push our school boards to do with our tax dollars that which we want done. BTW, I volunteer in school twice a week, every week.

    April 24, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  6. Theresa

    It is a horrible situation when children commit suicide after they have sought the assistance of an adult. Where else do they have to turn? This issue of bullying has been in our society for far too long as a concern that is not addressed. Responsible adults can no longer sit back and do nothing! Our children are suffering and the impact to families is far to great for bullying to be ignored. School systems are not equipped to handle this problem. Children who bully usually have a questionable home. Social Services should be brought into this situation to assess the home of the child(ren) that are bullying. Bullying is a learned behavior, undo the mess in the child(dren) thinking. Help the bully but first and foremost protect the child who is being bullyed.

    our biggest problem in this country, is America has forgotten God. We need to be bring him back into every aspect of our lives; home, school, business, banking, society. Only He can remove the evil we have allowed to permeate our souls.

    April 24, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  7. Mary in Atlanta

    Anderson,

    Thank you very, very much for bringing this discussion to the forefront.

    The story about this young boy absolutely broke my heart. I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy to his family.

    It is my hope that AC360 will continue to follow-up on the progress made by "school administrators, educators, parents, students and the government to work together to stop bullying and harassment in schools." Let's KEEP them HONEST.

    If anyone is reading this who is being bullied. I want you to know that you are special and important. You don't deserve to be bullied. Please keep asking for help until the adults in your life get it. I am sending you a BIG hug. Don't give up - we need you in this world.

    April 24, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  8. Theresa

    It is a sad day in America when children who are in elementary school are committing suicide. To them this is their only option when a problem in their life has happened and they have sought Adult help. We are failing our children, our future. School systems are not equipped to manage this serious offense occurring in their facilities. When children are vicious to other children, it is usually a learned behavior. Parents of bullys must be held accountable for the behavior their children are displaying. Maybe a solution is to call social services in to assess the child's (the bully) home situation to understand why their behavior is unacceptable.
    America has forgotten God so therefore

    April 24, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  9. Isabel

    It is very sad to know that another boy killed himself.

    The people make malicious comments and they don't measure the consequences. People don't realize how these comments can hurt the feelings ... change the life forever.

    I read that a Joseph Carl Walker's classmate called for the mother of Carl and apologized. Gesture of courage, tardy, but of courage!

    April 24, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  10. Colleen Henry

    I am very angry that a student who wanted just to learn, to attend school and to show an interest in the arts of life was bullied to the point of suicide. I blame the school staff for his death because they should have had a watchful eye and an open ear in reference to any student who should by behavior display being uncomfortable due to being bullied by another.
    His blood is on their hearts and hands!

    April 24, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  11. Cara

    I would just like to say one thing. Anti-bullying pledges that we sign or whatever else there is don't actually work. Some adults feel that singing these pledges actually do something. The truth is, it barely does anything from my point of view. It would be great if they worked but they don't. Besides, when we sign these things we don't actually read them and even if we do, it's just writing on a piece of paper. Nobody really cares about the pledge.

    April 24, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  12. Karen, Fresno ,CA.

    I've never been a fan of reality shows, especially "American Idol", because of the caustic tone of the judges. But like everyone else the world over, I was charmed by the Susan Boyle story.
    Is it any wonder that young people, fed a toxic and pervasive dose of yearning for fame and sneering at those that don't measure up, for their passive, down-time entertainment, think nothing of taking those hateful attitudes with them into their social enviornment? This is bullying.
    The eye rolling, snickering, disdain that the judges and the audience had toward Ms. Boyle has become socially acceptable. For a culture that puts a premium on being non-judgemental, judgement for entertainment has become a norm.

    April 24, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  13. sharon and ciarra from st croix

    to Jaheem's family...we share your deepest sorrow...teta..call us..back at st. croix..you know we have been friends for a long time.

    God keep you in HIS HANDS
    I know Jaheem is safe now.

    April 24, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  14. Shelly Hill

    I too am saddened about the suisides of these children and the many others that we haven't heard about. Children coming up the ranks are cruel and its not just race, sexuality but just bullied in general. My oldest son has been bullied his entire school life for things that are untrue like these children but not of a sexual content.
    My believe is even though there is a no tolerance policy in all schools it doesn't detour bullies. I believe kids need to be educated in ways to make them think. They need essemblies and movies about what happens to these kids and why and maybe punishments for this behavior should be delt with in helping abused children or victems in shelters so they can see first hand the error of their ways.

    This needs to stop. The children of today can't be handled with slap on the wrists it only results in suisides and also cases like columbine where kids just snap from the pressure.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to these families.

    April 24, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  15. Heather,ca

    This has to stop. Enough is enough. Having students sign pledges that they wont bully is a joke. Telling the students and their parents that only the highest conduct standards of conduct and behavior will be allowed is the way to do. The parents need to know that the schools job is to provide a safe learning enviroment and that each child is entitled to by law equal access to any education and if their being bullied by another child they are not able to receive that education. As far Im concerned any student that bullies another should be given three chances, the first detention, the second suspension and the third expelled from that school. The parents should also be accountable. All students and parents should be made aware and sign a acknowledgement of the policy. There is no excuse for this.If you dont teach respect and proper conduct when they are in school they will grow up thinking its ok. There is more to school than just reading ,writing and math. Respect,compassion,understanding and proper behavior matter.

    April 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  16. Kathy Russell

    A good report and sad story. It did mention girls, but only in passing.
    With girls anger is rarely articulated. I will quote from the book, Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons. "Now is the time to end another silence. There is a hidden culture of girls' aggression in which bullying is epidemic, distinctive and destructive. It is not marked by the direct physical and verbal behavior that is primarily the province of boys. Our culture refuses girls access to open conflict, and it forces their aggression into nonphysical, indirect and covert forms. Girls use backbiting, exclusion, rumors, name-calling and manipulation to inflict psychological pain on targeted victims. Unlike boys, who tend to bully acquaintances or strangers, girls frequently attack within tightly knit networks of friends, making aggression harder to identify and intensigying the damage to the victims." This book/information is unsettling and parents/schools need to be informed. While some girls do physically fight, they do more damage with silence. This is devastating to the victims and most women will remember this happening in school, even years ago. I think it needs to be reported to the public since it also has devastating psychological effects and does lead to suicide. Thanks for the space to write my concern. KR

    April 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  17. far

    i'm gravely saddened by this, children should enjoy their childhood and not be thinking about suicide.

    it's not only a problem in the united states. it's taking place around the world. it's an epidemic.

    education is important (well, not that it will solve everything), bullies need to understand, the consequences of "just" name calling.

    April 24, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  18. Elvy

    I believe teachers need to be more vigilant. Especially in between classes out in the hallways, in the cafeteria during lunch & in the schoolyard, during recess & after school.
    I also believe that students can get more involved. When I was in school, I used to call out the bullies all the time, because I just hated what they were doing. Terrifying fellow students. Always someone smaller & weaker then themselves. They are cowards. One did threaten me, but I never gave up. Kids follow by example & most have learned to stand by & do nothing when they are witness to the bullying. Parents of bullies need to get their kid some help or a good tongue lashing!

    April 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  19. Amber Smith

    I watched the show last night and I disagree with Barbara about that it is just based on sexual views. I just graduated high school not to long ago. I was picked on throughout my whole life. I would go to school and come home crying everyday. But they picked on me because of what I look like. Even though I'm now 19 going on 20, I still get picked on because of my face. I went to my counsleors and teachers and nothing was done. Till one day, a boy I had a crush on took my gym clothes and threw them in the garage bin, and said, "That's where you begin."

    When I watched this video and the show last night I just cried. Things are getting more out of hand in school now days. And something needs to be done! Bullying is not right and they need to realize it does affect the people they bully.

    April 24, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  20. Mark Orsted

    My now 12 yr old son was being bullied heaviliy at his Junior High this year (6th grade). He left the school and mentioned his intent to kill himself to someone. He was found by a school administrator at our house, and we entered him into a high-risk psychiatric center locally. Now, mind you the bullying wasnt his only issue at the time, but it was one of his issues. I know how scared I was when I found out the extremes that his mind had gone to, and I can't even imagine what the parents of these little guys have gone through.

    I think schools need to take a *much* harsher stance against bully's. I think if a child is indicated as bullying another child, he/she should have much more than a talking to, as they don't honestly understand the profound effect their bullying is having. They see it as teasing and they see the futile effort to avoid it or "spat back" by the child they are bullying as humorous. They need to be taught how it's being perceived and the damage it is doing to the other child.

    April 24, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  21. Beth

    This story was gut wrenching. I don't understand why kids are tormenting other children and that adults stand by and allow it to happen. In the news today there's a story about a 14 year old British boy who's parents are pulling him out of school because of the bullying. This young man is an Olympian diver and his name is Tom Daly. Bullying needs to be taken more seriously and those who are on the offensive need to be held accountable. My God, I don't want to see another story of a poor child who sees no way out but to kill themself. Thank you for covering this story, as difficult as it is to view.

    April 24, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  22. Rose

    Kids bullying is growing drastically accros the nation and while responsible adults in charge at school just let it be the problem will become a dylema .
    I reside in Connecticut .I have a teenager that is presentlly being bullied constatly at school . I had complaint to the school administrators and they just respond with the same vague words "we have an anti bullying policy" as a parent i see the school is ignoring the problem . The situation with my daugther being bullied got her to such extreem that she started to talk about killing herself . I Immediately got her involved in counseling. I feel im just treating the "symptoms" and not the cause which is the schools responsibility but they continue to ignore!

    April 24, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  23. David McCluskey

    Regardless of what people mean when they say the word, it has connotations beyond that. If you are gay, being called "gay" as a negative word, as a slur, is offensive and hurtful. This poor boy never got a chance to live his life, whether he was gay or not. His sexuality isn't the issue at all, cruelty is. Calling someone a name, be is gay, fat, stupid, ugly, or racially motivated slurs, they hurt, and some kids are teased relentlessly. This is the product of relentless teasing. This boy should have had a chance to live, and shame on every single child that ever teased him, or teased anyone. Words hurt, words kill.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  24. Johnny V. Boykins

    When are we going to come together as a community and say enough of this senseless violence and bullying. It is truly sad. We must end the silence on this issue. If this was Race related we would hear outrage from the community. Where is the outrage? Another 11 year old life has been cut short due to bigotry and hatred. How many more 11 year old need to die before we take a stand?

    April 24, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  25. robyncaffrey keyser west virginia 26726

    oo my " sabrina you are so write.

    all my days growing up, the gay word was what we did or watched , or how rap songs came out , or colors , im so sorry to just think ( what ) his mother and others r " going through. i think your coment was great "

    maybe the scfhools now " will look in to that, but ya know beleave it or not " there are alot of teachers to ' that ' go along with other bull'ys. at least in my days. all my kids are married, 2 are in the army.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  26. Justin

    I have heard the term "gay" used several time by my friends and acquaintances. Whether they use it by it's correct definition, or they use it in the context of being "stupid" (and that's what almost always it's used as) when children use it, it needs to be corrected. If you let children perpetuate the incorrect use of "gay" it's up to the teachers and parents to make sure they understand why that's wrong and to correct it.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  27. christy

    Yes it is true that kids these day call everything gay. But open your eyes. When they are picking on someone and calling that person GAY they mean exactly that! Gay, fagget, homo...my son went through it...and it cuts like a knife! Dont turn a blind eye

    April 24, 2009 at 11:12 am |
  28. Ida de Vera

    I am an educator and I am saddened by the incident. I have so many questions because in the county where I teach we are always reminded to keep an eye on students whoa are being bullied and students who are bullying. We take this seriously and we write them them up and report them right away to the Principal. Has that school and administrators failed and neglected A punishment in my vocabulary is in order.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  29. Michelle - SC

    Please tell your kids to stop using the word "gay" as a synonym for "stupid". Gay still means people who are attracted to the same sex. We are a class of people. To use the word "gay" as a slang is derogatory towards gay people.

    For gay people to come out, they have to say they're gay. Imagine if everyone was using the word for your identity as an insult. Having to say "I'm gay"...when people are using that word to mean something is stupid.

    Gay = stupid implies that gay people are stupid. It's not right.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  30. Mark

    This is very sad, I am sorry for the family's loss. If only the parents of the other kids could teach a little understanding. I am sure everyone is touched by this, on both sided. We are better than this!

    April 24, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  31. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Gay--a word that contains a "double edge sword,"--and it can cut both ways--but through the eyes of a kid--it often cuts the wrong way.

    April 24, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  32. Virginia

    My daughter was bullied by two girls. They followed her home, rode her bus when they don't live in the neighborhood and pushed her. The bus had videos of them pushing her. The police charged the kids. The school did nothing. They talked to the girls only. The girls continued and I pulled my daughter out of school. My daughter is forced to go to the school because it is the only one in our district and bullying is not an exception to go outside the district, so I've resorted to an online school through the state. She wants to return to school, but I can't risk her killing herself. This bullying needs to stop! We need to find out why this is happening and end it now!

    April 24, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  33. Trudy

    This is a sad commentary of the times we live in. When a child can be so tortured that he commits suicide at the age of nine years old it should open our eyes to the fact that our "little darlings" are not so darling. Why do we think our kids are so perfect now? We used to always suspect that they were up to something and they usually were, but now parents have the mind set that "their little angels" wouldn't or couldn't be the tormentors that they are. TOO MUCH TELEVISION teaching kids bad lessons. And apparently teaching parents as well. Programs make parents look like fools and the kids are the brains of the outfit are the undoing of our society. Children can not govern themselves. They need limits and rules and there needs to be punnishment for their actions. the kids that coused this shoudl be taught a hard lesson and if it scares they crap out of them and causes them pain, well at least they aren't hanging in their closet are they? Nobody cares about anyones feelings anymore.

    April 24, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  34. justin arnold

    I was bullied as kid in school and most of the time the teacher did not do a thing to help but i was bullied for being over weight. I think that it sick that the kids that was bulling those boys will most likely have nothing done to them because it was not a racial type of bulling but something need to be done to them they took a life and something need to be done to the parents too because they most likely heard that talk at home and school need to look over there anit-bulling act that is in the school.

    April 24, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  35. sabrina

    I am truly saddened by the news of kids committing suicide because of other kids ignorance, but I do want to comment on the word "gay". When I was a kid gay used to mean someone who like members of the same sex, but according to my kids it means anything but that. My son often comments that homework is "gay" or that a t.v. show is "gay". The kids call each other "gay" or tell me that something I have said is "gay".
    Eventhough they know what gay means "from my perspective" they still use the word like my generation used words like "knarly", "whack", "dope", or "radical". Maybe school anti-bullying programs need to ask students what these words that they speak mean to them and they may be suprised at the answers they get back.

    April 24, 2009 at 10:43 am |