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13-Year-Old’s Suicide Should Be a Wake-Up Call

When a child faces bullying to the degree that he feels, at age 13, the only thing he can do is commit suicide, something’s very wrong with us.

Bullying is a problem we’ve faced for generations and probably always will.

Even an Olympic athlete like Gabby Douglas isn’t immune from bullying — in that case it was cyberbulling. But as her critics attacked, her supporters, at least, rallied for her.

But not everyone who finds themselves victims of bullying has that kind of support.

The parents of a 13-year-old say he hung himself in the attic of their home because he had been relentlessly bullied at his Brooklyn school. The boy left a handwritten note explaining five boys had been bullying, and said he told teachers but they did “nothing.”

A spokesperson for the diocese said “school administrators never turned a blind eye or a deaf ear to Daniel’s complaints, and repeatedly provided counseling and support.”

That’s the part that stopped me. If school administrators had to repeatedly provide “counseling and support,” then presumably they knew something was very wrong. Why didn’t they do more?

It’s bad enough that there are kids who seem to somehow be brought up to lack the basic compassion for others around them that allows them to believe bullying others is acceptable in the first place.

But once a child tells a teacher that he’s a victim of that kind of behavior, why isn’t there a plan to deal with it?

Assuming the boy’s claims are true, we’re lead to what should be an obvious question for school leaders: Did they think this kid they kept counseling was making up the problem?

If their hands were tied in terms of what kind of discipline they might have at their disposal, that’s a problem we need to tackle: when a child gets mistreated so hard that he would entertain, even for a moment, the idea of suicide, something needs to be done.

And those in positions of authority need the ability to actually do something.

The teen’s father sent a message to the parents of the children he said bullied his son:

“To the parents of the boys that tormented my son, all I have to say is I hope you never have to feel what my family is going through right now. You get to hold your children every night and day for the rest of your lives and their natural lives. I don’t get that anymore. Your little monsters took that from me and my wife.”

I hope this suicide will be the last one ever caused by bullying, and that any other little “monsters” out there rethink their treatment of other people.

Unforunately, I don’t think that will happen.

1 Comment

  1. I am on an anti-bullying task force here in Connecticut that
    is made up of federal and state agencies and non-profits that is chaired by the
    CT Department of Education. All 50 states have anti-bullying laws in addition
    to the federal laws and Connecticut law is one of the strongest in the nation.
    There is no federal law that specifically band harassment
    and bullying but the U.S. DOEd has interpreted existing laws to cover bullying,
    such as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Titles II and III of
    the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also schools must provide a healthy, safe,
    and supportive learning environment.
    One of the trends that we are seeing is a pipeline from
    school to jail. What used to be handled by the school staff is now turned over
    to the “School Resource Officer” or in other words the police officer assigned
    to the school. What was once handled by the school such as pushing and shoving is
    now turned over to the police officer who usually makes an arrest and the
    school systems washes their hands of the incident.
    Some of the towns such as Westport have a Safe School Policy
    have intervention policy to stop bullying before it gets out of hand. https://www.westport.k12.ct.us/uploaded/site_files/www/safe_school_climate_plan_policy_2014.09.08-final.pdf
    The Holy Angels Catholic Academy is a private school and
    might be exempt from state and federal laws if they do not receive public funds
    but if they do receive funding then they have to obey the laws and provide a
    safe learning environment.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.