Another 11-Year-Old Boy Commits Suicide After Homophobic Bullying

You’ve likely read about the tragedy of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old boy who committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied at school with homophobic taunts.

But now, to make matters even worse in the only way they could possibly get worse, a second 11-year-old boy has also committed suicide (h/t)Jaheem Herrera, too, hanged himself after being bullied at school. Seemingly, the taunts were also homophobic in nature.

Jaheem Herrera, a fifth-grader at Dunaire Elementary School in the Atlanta area, hanged himself in his room after enduring extreme daily bullying that included antigay taunts. His 10-year-old sister discovered his body.

Herrera’s mother and stepfather say they were aware of the consistent bullying, although their son tried to hide the extent of it. His mother, Masika Bermudez, complained to the school, reports WSB-TV, and she talked with his best friend about the situation.

“He said, ‘Yes ma’am. He told me that he’s tired of everybody always messing with him in school. He is tired of telling the teachers and the staff, and they never do anything about the problems. So, the only way out is by killing himself,’” Bermudez told WSB-TV.

Jaheem was an excellent student who moved with his family to the Atlanta area last year from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, said stepfather Norman Keene.

I don’t know what to say to this.  There are few things to say.  The parallels between these two stories are so many that it’s frankly eerie, and absolutely stomach-churning.  And clearly, we need to wake the fuck up.

We need to have broad conversations about bullying in schools and homophobia in our society, and we need to have specific conversations about the homophobic nature of many kinds of bullying.  And we need to do more than just talk about it, we need to make sure that things change.  Schools need to be held accountable and forced to take action against bullying, and they need to find ways to prevent it in the first place.  Right now.  Before even more children see no other way out other than to take their own lives.

138 comments for “Another 11-Year-Old Boy Commits Suicide After Homophobic Bullying

  1. April 21, 2009 at 9:58 am

    God, it just makes my heart ache.
    And it was so nearly me, too. I remember kids beating me up with teachers watching, who’d smirk and play innocent when I asked them for help. I think they thought it would fix me, you know? I hear in so many of these bullying stories that the people who think bullying is an important part of growing up say, over and over, it teaches children how to fit in, teaches them to be better, teaches boys especially how not to step out of line, and these are important lessons somehow. They think this bullying fixes kids and teaches them not to be freaks. They know it goes on, even encourage it. And some of us survive, somehow, but some of us–like, God, these poor 11-year-old children–don’t.
    And you know–you know–there were a lot of people who knew this was going on, and chose not to stop it, because boys will be boys and that’s how kids are and hey, the kid needs to learn.
    We need to find a way to give kids other, safer ways out of this. It just breaks my heart.

  2. April 21, 2009 at 10:01 am

    this shit just hurts my soul. seriously what has to happen for people to realize that teaching intolerance to our children is criminally dangerous (or at least it should be.)

  3. Kristen J.
    April 21, 2009 at 10:07 am

    I’ve got no words…just grief.

  4. Sara
    April 21, 2009 at 10:12 am

    This is so horribly sad on so many levels. That this child was bullied to such an extent and with so little help from the school that he felt he had no other recourse, that these incidents are specifically homophobic in nature (regardless of whether these two boys were gay, it’s certainly sending the message to kids both queer and straight that they’d better conform exactly to some stereotype of masculinity or else), that we keep hearing about this and yet no one does anything. I just…I’m so upset.

  5. Mireille
    April 21, 2009 at 10:23 am

    That a child by the age of 11 already sees suicide as preferable to anything life still has to offer is horrid. It makes me want to cry and hit people.

  6. stlthy
    April 21, 2009 at 10:26 am

    This is both sad and infuriating. I hope the teachers and admin who enabled the bullying are censured in some way. I remember teachers who enabled bullying, and I still have an unhealthy level of loathing for them.

    It’s so shitty and awful that this kid’s life has ended while he was still so young. :(

  7. April 21, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Everytime I see some homophobic asshole complain about how gay marriage/the “gay agenda” is hurting them I just want to fucking scream. THEIR agenda is basically killing people and they don’t want to see people fucking holding hands or getting married.

  8. jenny
    April 21, 2009 at 10:44 am


  9. April 21, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Can we just go ahead and end the failed experiment that is humanity?

  10. April 21, 2009 at 10:54 am

    I am telling this story to the nest asshole who tries to tell me that some casual use of othering language is “just words.”

    Its never “just” words. Ever.

  11. Lizzie (greeneyed fem)
    April 21, 2009 at 10:59 am

    god, my heart just aches for this boy and his family — especially his poor sister.

    i taught for a couple of years, and i cannot imagine allowing bullying behavior to go on in my classroom or in the halls. i felt so protective of my students — i mean, what the fuck kind of teacher are you if you don’t care about your students’ well-being?

    this is what happens when good people do nothing. although i hesitate to call anyone at his school who could have done something a “good person.”

  12. Kat
    April 21, 2009 at 11:44 am

    As the mother of 12-year-old boy who is bullied in a similar manner, I am both horrified and unsurprised that this is the outcome. It has been our experience that no matter how loud we ask for help, our pleas are ignored by the teachers and administration. The vulnerable kids are left to fend for themselves, and can become quite desperate. I would like to say that situations like this are an anomaly, but instead my experience tells me otherwise – this is the accepted norm in our schools. It’s an absolute tragedy.

  13. April 21, 2009 at 11:44 am

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones,
    but names will never hurt me.”

    “Ignore it and they’ll get bored and stop.”

    Two of the biggest lies EVER told to children. And adults are “afraid” to step in because then it will only get worse for the kid getting teased. The problem is that too many adults think that it’s just the way kids are and they *can’t* stop it, so they don’t set boundaries in the places that they can. There is something fundamentally wrong with the way we’re raising children. (Overall, in general. I know several examples of kids being raised with sensitivity and caring.)

  14. CBrachyrhynchos
    April 21, 2009 at 12:01 pm


  15. April 21, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    both of these kids were of color. i have to wonder how much racism plays into this, both in the bullying itself and the refusal of the schools to do anything about it, even at an individual level.

    (i am not saying that white kids are not bullied. they are. i was one of them.)

  16. Nat000
    April 21, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    These poor, poor boys. And God…that 10 year old sister…I can’t even imagine what her life is going to be like.

    I feel the need to say something here about the comments I’m seeing about teachers’ roles in this. Public school teachers have very difficult jobs. Often they DO know the bullying is happening and they TRY to help, but their hands are tied. They can’t paddle kids the way they used to, and even a spurious accusation of abuse or inappropriate actions can ruin both their careers and their lives. They have no way to discipline these kids; only their parents have that ability. Yelling and keeping kids after school doesn’t work for many of these kids. My parents are both teachers, so I’ve seen the anti-teacher mentality that reigns supreme in many rural areas up close. It’s irrational and it’s fierce.

    It doesn’t diminish what happened to these children, but if you want to blame someone, blame the people responsible: the bullies and their parents, who teach them to be homophobic and intolerant of others, both other students and authority figures like their teachers.

  17. April 21, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Galling Galla raises a hell of a good point. There are fewer safety nets for kids of color, too, and I’m sure that plays into this. Oppression is a hard thing to comprehend as a child, especially when it’s intersecting all over you.
    I just feel so lucky that I made it, right now. My first attempt was at eight years old, and I get goosebumps thinking about how close I came to never making it to adulthood. I know I’m far from alone in that.

  18. April 21, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I also made it through this, barely. 11 was a very hard time for me, and there wasn’t really anyone there for me either, but somehow I survived. It is a crime and a tragedy that Carl and Jaheem didn’t. Someone should have been there for them. The worst part of stories like these is how people just throw up their hands about it. “Bullies, what are you going to do!” “Oh but it would just make it worse if we stepped in!” “He’s just got to toughen up.” Thanks for letting these boys die, assholes.

    I don’t know what the right solution is, there’s no quick miracle fix for bullying, no way to see all of it happening or stop all of it before it starts or keep kids from being mean to each other. There’s no solution I can think of beyond helping each and every child grow into a healthy social being who doesn’t bully others, and if they run into bullies, know how to deal with all the feelings around that and how to get support from caring friends and parents and mentors. AUugh. 5utj4igewoklodfjkl4w3io3w4io43w

  19. April 21, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    This needs to be understood in a context of oppression, and thus I object to the usual media coverage of it as “bullying”. This isn’t bullying. Bullying is being chosen last for kickball. Bullying is getting your hair pulled. Oppression and hate crimes are when boy culture becomes so poisonous that boys would rather be dead than be thought of as gay.

    It doesn’t matter whether or not these young boys were gay. The mere fact of the matter is that boy culture has taught young men that being anything other than male is to be less than human, and failing to be sufficiently male is equivalent to failing to be a human being. Framing this as simple bullying entirely misses the point.

    This isn’t just perpetuated by children. Children who are bullies have to get their hate from somewhere. Homophobia at large shapes and molds boy culture, just as boy culture shapes and molds angry repressed little boys into dangerous homophobic hyper-masculine men. I surmise that adults are contributing to the homophobia, and are doing nothing to address it. That they frame this as “bullying”—as if pulling hair is equivalent to hate speech—shows that they really don’t want to address the root of the problem.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but until homosexuality is divorced of its negative connotation in the wider culture—a culture shaped and made by adults—then this isn’t going to the last victim of a culture of hate.

  20. William
    April 21, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Bullied kids end up in a double bind. If you just shut your mouth and put up with it you get more and more as bullies realize you’re an easy mark. If you manage to develop a sharp enough tongue or a strong enough left hook the teachers and admins step in and call you a problem child.

  21. Bagelsan
    April 21, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Oh good. We’ve replaced fatal childhood diseases with deaths due to hate crimes and school terrorism. Big step forward, America.

  22. Sheelzebub
    April 21, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I was bullied horribly as a kid–beaten up by a group of boys in the lunchroom and on the playground at recess, while teachers looked on and did nothing. It started out as hair-pulling, ostracization, and name-calling. I think it’s ridiculously ignorant to pooh-pooh those things–they escalate, FFS. The overt, physical stuff mostly stopped when my parents showed up at the principal’s office and threatened to sue the school and name him and several teachers in the lawsuits. But–and this is important–I am White, my parents are White, and my dad knew some real sharks for lawyers who insisted he drop their names. I had advantages these two kids didn’t have. Even though I never got homophobic slurs thrown my way, I empathize with these two boys. No one deserves that shit. You should feel safe at school.

    You can’t win when you’re bullied. Go to a teacher, and you’re a tattler (and you’re often told that you should learn to work this out yourself, and that you should figure out “why” other kids are picking on you–cause it’s all your fault and you deserve it). Go to your parents, and you may get the same crap, or if they go to the schools, they’ll hear the same shit. Don’t say anything, and then, well, you should have gone to a teacher.

    And I agree-ignoring them doesn’t do a damn thing. Hitting them back does get you in a world of trouble though.

  23. Sheelzebub
    April 21, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    And Nat, teachers don’t have to paddle students, but if they see some shit go down, they can pull the students who are pulling that crap aside and telling them to cut it out. Several people here (including me) have posted about getting beaten up in the full view of teachers. Your complaints about having your hands tied are rather weak, considering the fact that one of the five teachers in the lunchroom who saw what was happening to me could have stepped forward and told those kids to stop it.

    And you know? Not for nothing, but kids who fight get suspended and disciplined all the time. Kids who bully? Nothing.

  24. Michele
    April 21, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    This just broke my heart and I hope it’s the last time we have to read about or experience something this horrible. It makes me wonder how I will ensure that my daughter (4 yo) will never undergo or participate in this sort of terrorism (and yes, I do think what those children did and the fact that the teachers & administration did nothing meets the definition of terrorism) in her life. Kids are such sheep and go along with the group, how does a parent instill sufficient backbone to fight bigotry at such a young age? I would hope that if my daughter participated in such abuse I would get a phone call and she & I would have a coming to Jesus talk, but if the administration ignores it, how do you ever deal with and conquer the abuse? I’m just at a loss.

  25. Ozymandias
    April 21, 2009 at 2:05 pm


    That’s awful.

    I… I have no words.

    Something like this makes me realize how utterly lucky I was to survive. So many people don’t.

    Eleven. Fucking. Years. Old.

  26. Carrie
    April 21, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    This story represents a weird cultural convergence I don’t understand. We’re seeing these stories of really horrific homophobic bullying, along with a general rise in the use of “gay” as the ultimate insult among young people. At the same time, we keep reading about how the overwhelming majority of under-30 voters support gay marriage, making it (some claim) a demographic inevitability. What’s going on here? Are we becoming more polarized (homophobic bullies vs. the tolerant majority)? Is there some reason why 11-year-olds are more homophobic than 19-year-olds? Does anybody have a theory?

  27. April 21, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Here is the email address for the principal of the school, Dr. Carolyn M. Thompson (

    I just sent her an email. Consider doing the same.

    Take care,

  28. April 21, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Here’s the phone number: 678-676-5502 (Office)

  29. April 21, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    @carrie i would say is the homophobic backlash in the 11 yr olds parents to realizing how mainstream queer issues and images are become being enacted by their children…but honestly i just don’t believe that the 30 and under voters are less homophobic just more covert about it.

  30. grad student
    April 21, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Gogojojo has is right, in replying to Carrie. As far as under 30s supporting gay marriage, well, we have to wonder how much is that simply because their parents don’t support gay marriage. I am not saying this is true in all cases, but…

    And, I think it is more ‘covert’. I am a PhD student on a major Public University… and am pushing 40. I cannot tell you how frequently one of the ‘enlightened under 30’ crowd makes a comment like
    “how gay” or “don’t be gay” or “GAY” in a derogatory sense.

    Just saying.
    Personally, I could care less if gays want to get married or not. In fact, I can’t see a secular reason that a secular government should be against it.

  31. April 21, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Again responding to Carrie, I think that there is also a world of difference from knowing well enough to say “not that there’s anything wrong with being gay” and thinking that gay people deserve basic rights, and not thinking that being gay (or feminine — obviously people incorrectly conflate the two) is like the worst thing every for a guy to be.

    I think that people can politically support gay marriage but still think that being gay is really, really gross. It doesn’t make any actual sense to me. But I’ve seen enough people are totally like “I don’t hate gay people! I support gay marriage!” but still laugh hysterically at homophobic jokes, call each other “gay” as an insult, etc.

  32. Lauren
    April 21, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I told my dad about these incidents recently and his response was that while obviously bullying was a problem, our main focus shouldn’t be on the anti-LGBTQ language that caused these suicides, because obviously the kids had other problems that caused them to decide suicide was the answer.
    I think this kind of thinking is going to be somewhat prevalent in deciding what to do about this kind of taunting, and while I agree that kids should be educated about suicide never being the answer, these kids were eleven. There was no way they could possibly have the understanding of death required to make the decision that suicide is the answer – they were just responding to horrible teasing, and this kind of statement takes the blame off the kids’ bullies and the administration that allowed it to happen and puts it on the shoulders of the kids. Never thought I’d see victim-blaming for eleven-year-old suicide victims.

  33. chingona
    April 21, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    This breaks my heart and makes me sick.

    I’ll second or third or whatever those who said bullying is not taken seriously and not understood as a form of oppression. Pam Spaulding had a post up about the first suicide that described some of the things the school did. Administrators consistently viewed it was a misunderstanding of some sort, and even forced the boy to eat lunch with the girl who was one of his worst tormentors. If that’s what the school sees as a solution, their involvement may have made matters even worse.

    As for a “rise” in homophobic bullying, is it really a rise or just a change in the terminology, from words like “sissy” to words like “gay”? I was never a boy, and I’m relatively young, so I’m not in a good position to say, but I wonder if what’s changed is that it’s more common to understand the bullying as homophobic. That is, there is at least an awareness in theory of the idea of homophobia, even if that awareness hasn’t yet led to any changes in how bullying is handled.

  34. chingona
    April 21, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I cannot tell you how frequently one of the ‘enlightened under 30′ crowd makes a comment like “how gay” or “don’t be gay” or “GAY” in a derogatory sense.

    I’m a little bit over 30, and I was both old enough and politically aware enough when those phrases first starting coming into vogue that I never picked it up. But I still struggle to excise “lame” from my speech. I know a lot of people who are just a little bit younger than me that just seem either 1) oblivious to what’s wrong with using language like that or 2) know it’s wrong and know why it’s wrong on a theoretical level but it’s so habitual it just comes out.

    NOT NOT NOT saying it’s okay. It’s a problem for a lot of reasons. Tying it back to the bullying, it provides cover and normalization for homophobia, among other things. But I think some (perhaps significant) percentage of the people using that kind of language do so because they’ve just never thought critically about language use and why it matters.

    Also, what Cara said. I think there’s a lot of people who are not opposed to civil rights for gays but are very uncomfortable with insufficient conformance to masculinity or femininity, and those are very tied up with how they view gay people. Like my co-worker whose good friend from his fraternity is gay and who shows no outward discomfort with our gay co-workers, but who on several occasions has spoken very highly of those co-workers for “not acting gay” and expresses disgust for men he deems effeminate.

  35. piny
    April 21, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    I think this kind of thinking is going to be somewhat prevalent in deciding what to do about this kind of taunting, and while I agree that kids should be educated about suicide never being the answer, these kids were eleven. There was no way they could possibly have the understanding of death required to make the decision that suicide is the answer – they were just responding to horrible teasing, and this kind of statement takes the blame off the kids’ bullies and the administration that allowed it to happen and puts it on the shoulders of the kids. Never thought I’d see victim-blaming for eleven-year-old suicide victims.

    This is like saying we shouldn’t have sanctions on air pollution beause some kids have asthma anyway. Of course some children will be more resistant to bullying–and, of course, some children will not commit suicide even if they’re at the same level of self-hatred and despair. And some kids will face additional homophobic abuse at home, while some kids will have support networks outside of school. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make sure that nobody commits suicide.

  36. April 21, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I don’t know if homophobic taunting is really such a new thing. When I was in middle and high school 20 years ago, they just called me and others fags or faggots and threw shit at us, or beat the crap out of the most visibly queer kids after school. I mean, the word “gay” is definitely in more wide circulation as a “mild insult,” and faggot is still a worse, more vitriolic, meaner one. But I’m not sure that change is really the real problem.

  37. Megan
    April 21, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Sue them. Sue them now, after the death, for the death. Wrongful death. Sue the kids for battery. Sue the schools for negligence.

    I know there’s a lot of negative talk about our “litigious” society, but unless there’s some money on the line, no one in a postition of power is going to take this sort of thing seriously.

    And, my god, someone has to start taking this seriously. We all have our stories of being bullied – but the connection between bullying, depression, and suicide is well-documented. Check out, and many others.

    Thanks for the post.

  38. E R
    April 21, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Are there any organizations that are lobbying or anything like that to get legislation passed to protect children from this kind of bullying? I know Title IX protects students from harassment based on sex, so there needs to be legislation like that which protects from harassment based on sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation.

  39. William
    April 21, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    I feel the need to say something here about the comments I’m seeing about teachers’ roles in this. Public school teachers have very difficult jobs.

    I struggled with whether or not to respond to your comment Nat. When I first read it I decided I’d give it a little bit of time for me to chew over what exactly I wanted to say and to let my anger cool down. Still, because of both my past experiences as a student and my recent experiences providing mental health services to students in an inner city school, I feel I have to say something. At the very least, the absolute bottom, it is unseemly to close ranks and defend teachers as having difficult jobs. Two children are dead, and I don’t think anyone who has ever actually sat around in a teacher’s lounge would be able to make an honest argument the the horrible fucking apathy displayed by a large subset of public school teachers didn’t have a big hand in what happened. Bare minimum teachers need to not play the martyr for a goddamn minute and listen to what others have to say.

    Often they DO know the bullying is happening and they TRY to help, but their hands are tied.

    I’d like to know what school district you’re talking about. The school I worked in until very recently had holding cells, two armed police, and about fifteen security guards at any given time. There was also a principle, a vice principle, a head disciplinarian, and each floor had it’s own dean who had the specific job of dealing with disciplinary problems. Thats not tied hands. Teachers have an enormous amount of authority and it isn’t difficult to do something. If a student can get five days for swearing about a teacher when the teacher wasn’t present (as happened to several of my students) but not get anything for repeatedly harassing and verbally abusing a fellow student then either the system utterly fucked or teachers who knew what was happening didn’t care.

    They can’t paddle kids the way they used to,

    Ever stopped to think that maybe teachers prone to reminiscing about the good old days when they could just beat the hell out of kids who misbehaved might have a little something to do with the culture of dominance and humiliation that breeds this kind of bullying? “Man, if only we could show these little monsters that there are bigger monsters out there, that’d learn ’em!”

    and even a spurious accusation of abuse or inappropriate actions can ruin both their careers and their lives.

    What does that say about the priorities of teachers?

    They have no way to discipline these kids; only their parents have that ability.

    Funny, but I seem to have a different experience. I had a student who, after being slapped in the face by a classmate, was given a three day suspension for walking out of class without a pass. That was his sixth suspension of the year, all for minor infractions like that. The dean decided that he was a “chronic discipline problem” and expelled him. 15 years old and he was out of the school for good. This wasn’t a unique situation either. A significant part of my job consisted of convincing deans not to expel students for poor academic performance or attendance. I always wondered why not showing up could get you kicked out, but calling someone a “nigger” and then throwing punches merely got a “hey, the kid is under a lot of stress” if the attacker had a letter on his jacket.

    My parents are both teachers, so I’ve seen the anti-teacher mentality that reigns supreme

    You hear story after story of real people talking about their experiences and the apathy they faced, and then you play the victim and talk about how hard it is for teachers and how biased people are against them? Perhaps some self-reflection might be in order.

    It doesn’t diminish what happened to these children, but if you want to blame someone, blame the people responsible: the bullies and their parents, who teach them to be homophobic and intolerant of others, both other students and authority figures like their teachers.

    Thats passing the buck. Bullying is not a discrete event, it is not something that happens in a vacuum. It is a pattern of interactions that happens within a specific social context under specific circumstances. Like all behaviors designed to oppress others it needs not only the action of the offender but the inaction of others in order to happen. Not stepping in when you see it happening leaves you just as responsible as if you were an active participant when your job is to be a guardian to the person being attacked.

  40. April 21, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    This just breaks my heart. The bullying is way to tolerated. People have a tedency to just diminish how terrible it is and claim that it is a part of childhood. We are teaching children that this behaviour is acceptable every time we condone it. Children arenot born homophobic it is adults that teach them that is acceptable. This is yet another good reason to have inclusive sex education in the schools.
    I cannot imagine the pain that this family is going through. It was all so preventable if the school had just done what they were supposed to do

  41. qvd
    April 21, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    I agree that bullying is a word with a connotation that is way too mild. I would rather call it ABUSE.

  42. April 21, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    First, I want to offer my condolences to Jaheem Herrera’s family and friends for their tremendous loss. No child should ever be forced to endure what Jaheem and Carl Walker-Hoover experienced in school. Of course, so many of us on this thread lived the daily hell that this two young boys found themselves in. For some of us, public school hell was just yesterday, while for others the ringing taunts, shoves, punches, and slur-throwing happened to us decades ago. For many of us, it seemed that our bullies were stronger than the parents and teachers who were supposed to be our protectors.

    I was bullied from the age of nine all the way up to high school, and it was when I was eleven that the bullying took the misogynist-homophobic turn that caused me to drop out at sixteen. As you can guess, I’ve battled depression, social isolation, and suicidal thoughts. It is only by the grace of G-d that I am here today.

    My dream: if there could be an organization that staffed anti-heterosexist speaker-trainers who would go into schools and teach young people about homophobia, sexism, honoring difference, conflict resolution, and other helpful anti-oppression strategies for children and teenagers. If I had the start-up money and funding stream, I would launch that organization in my area tonight. When I say tonight, I mean tonight!

    Oppression is on the loose in our schools, and two young children are dead. It is now time for the anti-oppression movement to go mainstream. In our schools, in our houses of worship, our community centers, at our jobs. And it starts with us.

  43. Kat
    April 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    William, I am so taking you to my next IEP meeting.

    My son has been victimized all year. We kept logs, called meetings with staff and administration, begged for them to do something, anything. Just make it stop and let him have a normal day. A room full of teachers and administrators claimed they “just never see it”. Then they turned the conversation to, and I wish I was kidding but I’m not, “we need to figure out what your son is doing to attract this sort of interaction” and “boys will be boys”. The ignorance was astonishing.

    My son dealt with name calling, including “faggot” and other sexual terms. My son has not identified one way or the other, and didn’t even know what the term faggot meant. When I pointed out to the administrators and teachers that this is a form of sexual harrassment, and that the students who use these terms should receive some sort of sensitivity training or SOMETHING, they just said, “oh yea, that’s a popular word here in middle school.”

    My son happens to have a disability, and instead of that being a red flag to his teachers that he might need more vigilance than other kids because he is more likely to be victimized, it actually serves as an excuse, “oh, well, he has autism and kids with autism get bullied.”

    After the meeting, he was attacked not once but twice, both times resulting in injuries requiring that I pick him up early from school and have him examined by a doctor.

    At that point, HE was disciplined because in the process of pushing an attacker off of him, the “laid hands” on another student (you know, in the pushing the attacking person off of him sort of way). He served a detention, and is now considered a “disciplinary problem”.

    What did he learn? To keep his mouth shut and just take it. Going to the administration only meant that he’d get in trouble on top of getting attacked.

    I got good and riled up and spoke at the Board of Education meeting. I even spoke one-on-one to my Board representative, who happens to also be a teacher (in another district) and he told me, seriously, “once your son was attacked, it was inevitable that he was punished.” He didn’t say this to me with one bit of irony. It is absolutely the case.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think our case is unusual. I sit in these meetings with these teachers and administrators and feel like I am dealing with people who live in a bubble, who have a very skewed idea of what appropriate behavior is, and how to encourage positive behavior.

    I’ve also been labeled as a “vocal” parent.

    My mother was a teacher. She would be appalled by the way her grandson is treated.

    FYI — there is a case going to the Supreme Court that is going to examine Zero Tolerance policies and the outcome in how schools are dishing out discipline. I blogged about it here:

  44. Erika
    April 21, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Ugh, heartbreaking. This makes me rethink wanting kids in a big way–is there any way to protect them from this kind of thing? I know homophobia is not new at all, but it seems like younger and younger kids are being indoctrinated into hateful ideas about LGBTs from everything from the media, churches, the internet, and their parents. In fact, I’m sitting at home right now, and the clip from Miss USA is being played again on the news with a beautiful, harmless looking young girl saying “no offense, but I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.” Cue parents/churches/other media/etc. chiming in to this as a “teaching opportunity” about how “homosexuality is a sin/gross/etc.,” combined with bullying, leading to the bullshit we see happening here. Obviously this has been happening forever, but I’m wondering how much the current cultural backlash against gay marriage, etc. is fueling some of this.

    And Kat, I’m so sorry. That’s awful. Good luck to you and your son. There is no excuse for him to be treated that way.

  45. Kat
    April 21, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Thanks, Erika. I didn’t mean to go on for so long, I meant is as an example of what the status quo is in our schools. These cases are so absolutely tragic, especially because they could have been prevented if someone just listened.

  46. Kat
    April 21, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Here is the direct link to the court case:

    It seems that everytime I hear about a case like this, its at a school that has adopted some form of zero tolerance policy. But zero tolerance policies can be so ridiculously ineffective and can be so misapplied and misused, while simultaneously giving the administrations something to point at to say they are doing “something”.

  47. mk
    April 21, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Interestingly, I just got this in my inbox:

    From The Dress-Up Corner to the Senior Prom: Navigating Gender and Sexual Identity Development in the K-12 Setting

    Sponsored by QueerEd (Harvard Graduate School of Education LGBTQ organization) and the Office of Student Affairs at HGSE

    Do you have questions about how to address issues of gender and sexuality in the classroom? In schools? In districts? How do you respond when first graders start a debate about “boy” colors and “girl” colors? What happens when 3rd graders start using “that’s so gay” as a put-down? How do you help your gender variant 5th grader navigate the complex social world in school?

    I’m hoping bullying will come up here. (I have more info if anyone else in the Boston area is interesting in attending–it’s free and RSVP isn’t required.)

  48. ArthurKC
    April 21, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I am a civil rights lawyer and a few years ago I did this case:

    Parents should know that gender-based bullying, based on child’s failure to conform to stereotypical gender expectations in a school is a violation of Title IX if school officials ignore it — i.e. if they are deliberately indifferent to it. Courts add attorneys fees on top of damages verdicts. Litigating every such case would get the attention of school districts and their insurance companies.

  49. April 21, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    I think it’s ironic to say that teachers and such don’t have any control when they seem to have no problem strip searching young girls for asprin. It’s not that they don’t have the authority, it’s that they choose where to flex it and the messy issue of bullying and harrassment is not where they are willing to muddy the waters

  50. April 21, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    It’s not that they don’t have the authority, it’s that they choose where to flex it and the messy issue of bullying and harrassment is not where they are willing to muddy the waters


    This just breaks my heart. The thought of this happening to my little guy makes me sick to my stomach. I just want to hold him closer.

  51. April 21, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Oh man. This stuff just eats me up inside. I was him, once, sitting on my bed with a Girl Scout knife trying to figure out how to slash my wrists, in sixth grade. I was bullied and taunted for not being feminine and pretty and neurotypical enough. Endlessly. Ceaselessly. People don’t realize what a toll it can take on a kid.

    And yes, a lot of this is about misogyny, I believe that. The best thing in the world is being a manly man, and the second best thing is being a woman that a manly man wants to show off on his arm. If you look like you’re in any danger of not being one of those things, look out. Throw racism and xenophobia into the mix, and things get nasty in a hurry.

    But it’s beyond that, even. Bullies look for reasons to do their bullying; if they don’t find anything obvious, they make something up, they “see” things about you that aren’t even there. It’s just SICK and I have no idea why adults tolerate it going on under their noses even for a second.

    I also FUCKING HATE IT when people call this stuff “teasing.” Teasing is what your friends do to you if you wear an ugly shirt. You know they’re just messing with you and you can do it right back to them about their ugly shoes and everyone will have a good laugh and no one will get hurt. This is different. This is tormenting. I knew the difference when I was 8 years old, and I’m aspie. I don’t see how neurotypical adults who work with children every day and/or have children of their own, have any excuse for not getting it.

  52. Jadey
    April 21, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    I wanted to point out that bullying hurts all children: victims, bullies, and those who witness it and experience a system that fails them. When the violence is systemic and part of the overall school culture, many kids will end up all three. I was bullied and ostracized as a kid, but over the years the most painful memories, the ones that keep me up at night (like right now), are the ones of when I had the opportunity to take out my anger and lessons of hurt on the one or two kids even more vulnerable than I was, and did.

    The person you are and the beliefs you have when you’re 11 will almost certainly change — and hopefully for the better — but the things you did never, ever go away. You cannot make up for them. You can’t take it back, and you have to live with it. Bullying violence (physical, emotional, spiritual) hurts every child who encounters it, and it comes out of a system that needs to change.

    One of the reporters whose been following the Angie Zapata trial posted recently (briefly) about her own experiences as a bully. Reading her apology broke my heart, and I hope she is able to track her friend down and apologize in person. I have been writing my own apology for years, and am still a coward.

    I open my heart to both the boys in these two tragic cases. I also open my heart to all of the children who will grow up sharing responsibility for death at the age of 11.

  53. P. Haskins
    April 21, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    We live in a world where you can rape a child, get protected in prison, a slap on the wrist and released to prey on our children again and the exsitense of bullying suprises us why? We need to stand up and stand together to protect our children, all the children! Society as a whole has turned a blind eye to abuse of many kinds for way to long. Open your eyes people and look around and within yourselves to see what you can do to change the acceptance of violence in our homes and communities. These bullys learned bullying from someone!!! Peace.

  54. April 21, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    The parents of these evil bullies need to STEP UP and do something to make their children contribute positively to the world!!

  55. karak
    April 21, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    I wonder why the conversation isn’t a little focused around childhood mental illness and depression. It is very rare that children kill themselves, leading me to believe that these boys had other issues that, when the frustrations, humiliation, and fear of bullying were added, tipped them over into suicide.

  56. April 21, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    But karak, it isn’t very rare that children almost kill themselves or simply don’t succeed. The rate of suicidal ideation in the trans community, especially youth, is estimated at around forty-four percent. The queer community’s not much better off at all. I had the point of a knife dimpling my chest in in the third grade, before I stopped, and not because I wanted to stop. Wanting to die, or feeling your life isn’t worth continuing, is emphatically not rare in certain segments of the population, even young children, and it’s not because they all have the same chemical predisposition from birth. The rarity is publicized success.
    Just because there’s a neurological component to childhood mental illness doesn’t mean it doesn’t come at least in part from circumstance–childhood abuse, for instance, has been shown to have a marked effect on brain chemistry and development. Torment, harassment, and abuse are among the causes of mental illness, alongside the genetic and other causes, and heavily exacerbate what tendencies are there.
    Dealing with the oppressive and abusive part of the equation would have a huge impact on childhood mental health, especially depression. Living in an environment of that kind of torment is issues enough for any kid. Some kids find safe havens with their families or elsewhere. I didn’t, but found hiding places, and lived. Not every kid has somewhere to run.

  57. denelian
    April 22, 2009 at 2:24 am

    *HOW* are these schools not being sued for negligence?

  58. April 22, 2009 at 2:44 am

    I wonder why the conversation isn’t a little focused around childhood mental illness and depression. It is very rare that children kill themselves, leading me to believe that these boys had other issues that, when the frustrations, humiliation, and fear of bullying were added, tipped them over into suicide.

    I have to say this, but your comment smacks of priviledge. As a lesbian, someone who is fat, and has health problems debilitating enough to be called a disability, the reason I wanted to kill myself when I was younger wasn’t because there was something wrong with me. In fact, everyone who insinuated there was—and that was most people—was an ignorant piece of shit that excused over a decade of relentless torment. The reason I wanted to kill myself is that I was young and not able to cope with the shear amount of vitriol and hatred leveled against me. I was seven and I realized that my allergies and persistent rashes meant most children didn’t want to be my friend. I was nine when I realized that my father wasn’t coming back. I was ten when I realized that adults didn’t give a shit about me. I was eleven when I realized that I was ugly and nobody cared. I was twelve when I realized I was hopelessly fat. I was thirteen when I developed an eating disorder. I was fourteen when I realized I wanted to die, and had wanted to die, for about five years. I was fifteen when I realized tried to die because I realized I was gay.

    This shit doesn’t come out of a vacuum and some genetic propensity to feel sad all the time. It comes out of the fact that the culture at large thinks it’s perfectly cool to turn a blind eye to the amount of shit leveled at children by their peers, parents, teachers, administrators, and other parents. I can distinctly remember the mother of a student that made my life hell at six (yes, I remember being miserable at six fucking years old) telling the teacher that I deserved to be bullied because I was “too weird”. The teacher smiled and nodded and the bullying continued, this time with a mandate that I deserved it. I was in Kindergarten.

    So if anyone really wants to tell me that I attempted suicide at fifteen because there was something wrong with me, and all that bigoted hateful shit had nothing to do with it, I have a big piece of Shut the Fuck Up for you.

  59. April 22, 2009 at 4:12 am

    This is simply awful.

    I have long struggled to understand why bullying is such a huge problem in U.S. schools (I understand it to be a big problem in Britain as well – please let me know if I’m wrong).

    I remember the first 3 years I spent in a Ukrainian public school, before moving. Kids acted like jerks sometimes. A few times, I walked home crying. But overall – there was never this need to select a group of outcasts and savage them, over and over again. My brother’s at a Ukrainian school now, and it’s a similar set-up. Sometimes, he gets into fights. Other times, some girl tease him for something. But there isn’t a “caste system” in his school, in which the ones on top get to ruthlessly harass the ones on the bottom. I remember, in the USSR, there was a great movie about a case of high school bullying that got out of control – when a girl is “boycotted” by her peers. It still generates discussion today, and one of the things about it is that it is considered a shocking, brutal movie – not something that’s “normal,” or “part of growing up” or anything of the sort.

    I see the same thing in Jordan. Bullying does happen – but it’s not nearly as systematic or as entrenched or, let’s face it, normalized. If anything, kids stick together in their defiance of adults. Or so I’ve seen (I could be wrong).

    By comparison, the sheer scale of bullying in the States is overwhelming.

    It’s not like having a bad day at school, and then having a better one tomorrow. It’s never-ending. I got it especially bad in middle school – for being foreign and not pretty enough. And I was one of the lucky ones – I went to a posh school where, when the teachers were told that I was being threatened in a sexual manner, they took it seriously and called in the parents of the boys who did it. And it eased up a little bit.

    Bullying in the States is SO bad that I don’t even know if I want my brother to go to an American school down the line. He needs a good education, but considering the fact that he is sensitive, and has an Eastern European accent – what will the others do to him? I don’t even want to imagine.

    Two little kids are dead – and they are part of a pattern. And it’s considered… OK? A rite of passage? Why?

  60. tinfoil hattie
    April 22, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Every time I read a discussion about bullying, someone inevitably says, “Bullies are in pain too!”

    I have so little sympathy for bullies, having been their victim for years upon years. I wanted to kill myself, too. But I was afraid I’d go to hell, so I didn’t. My brother had the crap beaten out of him every day, and when my father finally threatened to sue the bully’s family, the bully’s father said, “Yeah, but your son provokes my son” (the bully outweighed my brother by about 60 pounds and was a least 6 inches taller).

    I have a friend whose emotional development was completely stunted by merciless bullying. She has a very childlike affect at age 50, and to this day she cannot start a conversation wtih a stranger.

    It always comes back to: What did the bullied person do to deserve it, and Well she needs to learn to stand up for herself.

  61. Jadey
    April 22, 2009 at 6:25 am

    @ tinfoil hattie

    I’m sorry. My intention really wasn’t to draw focus away from victims or engage in victim-blaming, especially given the topic of this thread, and my own experiences with victimization. I do not believe for an instant that victims are responsible for what bullies do to them and I would argue anyone who claimed otherwise.

  62. Kat
    April 22, 2009 at 7:24 am

    I don’t really blame the bullies themselves, I blame the adults who consistently overlook the bullying behavior and let it flourish. And by this I mean that I’m pointing the finger of shame at the teachers and administrators who are responsible for properly managing their school. The kids, after all, are kids. The adults are supposedly in charge. Kids pick up FAST what they can and can’t get away with, and run with it. Of course parenting has a role in this, but schools have always been a repository for kids from a range of backgrounds. Some are getting good life lessons at home, and some are not. But that does not excuse the schools from their duty to keep all children safe while at school.

  63. Jaynee
    April 22, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Yes, we do need to wake up!!!!! I cried when I heard about these suicides and what caused them. My son, who is in the sixth grade, was teased, no BULLIED last year about the same thing. He showed suicidal tendancies and I freaked out! But I went to the school ad demanded that they get to the bottom of it and do whatever they had to do to stop it. I also got him into counseling. Please, if your son tells you about such taunting, do whatever it takes!!! I know that the school administrators and teachers thought that I was being overreactive, but I don’t care. We all have to do something to put an end to this. I am deeply saddened by these tragedies and my heart goes out to the families. I was just lucky enough to know how bad the bullying was and the effect it was having on my son.

  64. April 22, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Please, if your son tells you about such taunting, do whatever it takes!!!

    Jaynee, the parents in I believe both of these cases have talked about going to the school, repeatedly, and being ignored or told that what’s happening is just normal kid stuff. Other people on this thread have talked about the same thing. One of the boys, Carl, was forced to sit at lunch with one of his worst bullies by the school as some kind of bullshit mediation.

    I’m really glad that going to the school eventually did something in your case. I really am. But acting as though it will work for everyone is just false, and actually kind of insulting. These parents did that. The schools did nothing. Now their sons are dead.

  65. KLo
    April 22, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I’m a high school teacher, and I sometimes feel like kids are almost allowed to say, “That’s so gay!” or “You’re a queer” without any sort of repercussion. I always speak to kids and tell them it’s inappropriate and why, but I don’t think they get how serious it is. Your post made me cry : (

  66. April 22, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Yeah. I was told to “stop being a victim,” to learn to be more normal, etc, etc. Bullshit. How about we teach the other children not to torment those different from them.

    And even if you’re incredibly lucky like me and the bullying mostly abates when you hit high school–you STILL treat every new introduction or every amibiguous comment as a potential threat.

    This may just be my background talking, but what I took away from it was that most of these kids, 15 years later? Scratch the social veneer and they’re still fucking assholes. Says a lot for humanity–at least the children are honest about it. Adults learn to hide it better, but that’s all. Makes me wonder if we CAN do anything to stop it.

  67. SA
    April 22, 2009 at 11:07 am

    And even if you’re incredibly lucky like me and the bullying mostly abates when you hit high school–you STILL treat every new introduction or every amibiguous comment as a potential threat.


    For me, it got worse in high school. Being a disabled little girl was hard enough. Frequent cruel words and occassional beatings. I cried, wet the bed, had nightmares.
    Then I hit my teens, and I told a “friend” about my feelings for other girls.
    What followed was when I actually started wanting to die.
    Because before I was a “lesser person.” Then I crossed the line into “unperson.” I was referred to as “it” by other people in the room. I was talked about as an object – a very unpleasant object. Other girls wouldn’t sit near me. Or just make jokes about me as if I couldn’t hear, when I was sitting next to them. People took my stuff and hid it. I got hate-mail.
    I’m still living with what they did to me. I still sometimes want to die because of it. I still self-harm because of it.

  68. lizvelrene
    April 22, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Part of the reason I’m never having children is because of my awful, awful memories of school and the bullying I lived with there. I have a very specific memory of being on the ground while an older kid beat me with a heavy traffic cone during “recess”. Shortly afterwards I was in the principal’s office and he asked me what I was doing to make the boys so angry. I don’t know, EXISTING? Jesus. That still burns me up and that was 20 years ago. Nobody did a damn thing to help me, that’s what I never got over.

    I know there’s been progress on some fronts: my mom now works at the high school I attended and there is a gay-straight alliance and gay-supportive groups in place. None of that stuff was there when I attended in the 90’s. So many of the people who endured similar bullying when I was there, people who were my little world of outcast survivors banded together, later came out as gay. But at the time we didn’t have the tools or support to talk about things like that even with each other. It makes me so sad in retrospect how alone we all were.

    I like to hope it’s at least a little better out there now, and then I hear things like this and I know it’s the same goddamn story, STILL. Nothing’s changed.

  69. Jaynee
    April 22, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    So sorry (Sincerely So) if I offended or insulted anyone. I was just sharing my story …not really trying to lay any blame and God knows, especially not on the parents. You know, school administrators, teachers, and so on, really do brush this issue more often than not. Sad. We pay who knows what to school counselors and student support personnel….maybe they could focus on keeping our children safe more and standardized test scores a little less. (That is speaking for my area.)

  70. kaninchen
    April 22, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I was a target for bullying in school because I was an easy target. I was effeminate, quiet, unsocial, and bookish (that is, transgender and with Asperger’s), poor in a wealthy school district. When I complained about being bullied to my family, they took me out of that school. The first time, when it was my first-grade teacher who was the bully, it seemed like a positive thing. The second time, I was removed from a challenging, interesting private school (hooray scholarship) where the other kids took my glasses and called me names and sent to a school where the gym coach paddled me and the locker room nearly meant my death. I was beaten, humiliated. Once someone threw a shuriken at me and missed by inches. A teacher there refused to let me go to the bathrooom and I pissed myself in my front-row desk.

    I learned that complaining got me worse treatment. I learned that fighting back got me punished, not those who tormented me. I was told constantly that I needed to be more masculine, to make friends, to not spend all day with my nose in a book. Above all, I learned that being bullied was my fault.

    I have no idea what made me any different from these two boys, why I survived where they did not. Not unscathed: I have many scars. Some of them are visible.

  71. Jaynee
    April 22, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Correction to earlier statement …..meant to type “they brush this issue aside.”

  72. Dee
    April 22, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Girl, I was reading an article about the 11 yr. old child who hanged himself because of the bullies in his school, that should have never happened. Joshua was being bullied by some kids and I told him to beat the snot out of them and then I would press charges afterwards and I told the principle at the school that I advised my son to deal with the bullies physically and then I would deal with those who allowed him to be taunted, and she stepped in and did what she had to do so that I would not have to make an appearance at that school.
    yeah, I don’t think that people understand that they can go to the school or the board and make a formal complaint and that they can tell the school administrator like I did that my son is to use any means necessary to deal with any bully at that school and if they touch him I was going to touch them when I got to that school, I was not playing, and then his father sent an email and told them that since he worked at channel 2 news he would have a news crew at this school and they did not want that kind of publicity because this is suppose to be one of the best schools in Georgia. I sat down with the councilors and told them that I would deal with the students and their parents if they didn’t, and that my son is being taught at home to “fight back by any means necessary”.
    yelp, I told them that I fight parents and children.

  73. Catherine
    April 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    What a tragedy that this kind of thing happens. Those poor little boys…

    From my observation, there are usually only a relative few serious bullies, and a lot of other kids who join in out of suggestibility or because they are afraid of being bullied themselves if they don’t go along. My son was bullied in middle school, not for being effeminate but because he was always kind of socially slow, maybe a little way into the autism spectrum, was slow to pick up on things. He was fortunate that he grew up to be very large at a relatively young age and then the abuse stopped. But not before I was appalled to be called to the school because he himself was taunting another boy even lower on the pecking order than he was – a developmentally delayed kid. I gave him hell for that and I don’t think it happened again, but what I think was happening was that he was desperately trying to deflect attention from himself and become one of the “in” crowd – by bullying! But at least his school acted in this case and straightened things out, they did not believe that bullying was just normal.

    I think it is not too much to ask the schools to keep their eyes open and try to target the worst of the bullies, talk to their parents, etc. I think if those kids are kept in control it will lessen the problem a lot.

  74. William
    April 22, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I wonder why the conversation isn’t a little focused around childhood mental illness and depression. It is very rare that children kill themselves, leading me to believe that these boys had other issues that, when the frustrations, humiliation, and fear of bullying were added, tipped them over into suicide.

    The conversation isn’t focused around childhood mental illness and depression because that would be somewhat foolish. What conversation would we be having? While depression and some forms of mental illness can have an organic component, biological factors are poorly understood. While these children might have been more prone to depression, I can’t really imagine any line of inquiry that wouldn’t eventually lead to (and focus upon) their environment.

    Suicide is rarely something that occurs in a vacuum. That is, if anything, even more true of children. Kids try to kill themselves for the same reasons adults do, and the biggest reason there is a lack of hope. A view that things are so bad that oblivion would be preferable to another day. Children tend not to commit suicide because they often lack the means and generally face lesser stresses than adults with more social support. When that is not the case, suicide becomes a serious risk.

    The bottom line here is that the constant bullying, the abuse, the assault, was likely a central factor in what happened to this child. Talking about a concept as fuzzy as mental illness feels to me a bit too much like avoiding the elephant in the room.

  75. Fidelia
    April 22, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    As a special education assistant, I see this crap way too often. And working with kids who are EBD, I often am working to help the kid who is doing the bullying knock it off. I see a lot of angry kids looking to take it out on someone littler them, or someone easier to pick on. But TBH, they’re never the ones that really scare or make me angry.

    This is an upper middle class suburb, almost blindingly white, and there’s this growing population of kids who seem pretty apathetic and unmotivated to do anything past basic self-pleasing crap like video games and as they get older, drugs and sex and gossip. They’re the ones who are the hardest to break through to, because they don’t CARE, and unsurprisingly, neither do their parents. They’re the kind who are involved in shit like that MySpace suicide. They’re the ones I get after for using the word gay as an insult– though I’ve actually been warned before about putting too many “values” into a speech about how it’s not okay to talk like that.

    Give me my kids who jump off tables any day over this, though God knows this population needs some kind of help too. I just really can’t figure out what it is, and that’s the scariest thing of all.

  76. vibabyshae
    April 22, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    I my self is from St.Croix U.S Virgin Island and me and my family moved to Dekalb County,i also went the same school and was bullied from these group of girl who decide to get most of the school on my little miss (NAT000),I no how it fell so u cant say shit! teacher,principles they get payed do there jobs. there are responsible for safety of the students on school grounds,the parent trust them to keep there children safe from the time they step into the school, until they are off the bus.The parents did there jobs by telling the person in charge of the school not once but several times! so to me i can never feel that its the parents fault,only grieve for there lost of there 11 year old son. and to tell you the truth nobody really knows if the young man was gay,but he was called gay by the people who bullied him.and just because the young man took the hits doesn’t make him gay in any form.Maybe he was scared. Think!!, u come from a totally new environment thinking all will be well, and then all of a sudden some body treats you as a victim and your lost, cause all you want to do was fit in.My thing is schools need to have a real serious conversations with the students to lower the prevention of this happening again and to really take the act of bullying or teasing someone very serious or at least try to.Cause look now that family has to deal with the fact that there only little son is gone and there little girls have to deal with not being able to talk or see there brother again till Christ comes.LIKE COME ON! THEY NEED SUPPORT OR NEEDS TO KNOW THAT ITS GONNA BE ALRIGHT BUT ONLY HEARING THE CRITICISM’S OF PEOPLE SAYING ITS THERE FAULT ONLY GONNA MAKE THEM FEEL WORST THAN THEY FEEL NOW!BECAUSE YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW WHAT IS IN THERE HEADS!because if that was me i woulda go a hell of crazy.SO ALL WE CAN DO IS PRAY FOR THERE FAMILY AND EVERYONE WHO KNEW THIS CHILD AND HOPE THAT SOMETHING WILL BE DONE! ~PEACE AND LOVE ~

  77. April 22, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    kaninchen @75: this could have been me in the 1970’s. trans-feminine and aspie, abused and beaten and spit on for seven years. the wounds do not heal.

    Nat000 @17: your comment is unbelievably ignorant. you obviously were never bullied. “Often they DO know the bullying is happening and they TRY to help, but their hands are tied.” that’s a bunch of crap. i was bullied for 7 years, and teachers and administrators were openly hostile and mocking of me and my parents, and at times joined right into the bullying with the kids.

    and you think it is because they can’t paddle kids anymore? wtf? are you actually advocating child abuse as some kind of solution? cos child abuse is at the *heart* of why kids bully – cos they themselves are hurt by adults and therefore learn to normalize violence. bullying is a symptom of child abuse – of both the bullied child and the bullies.

  78. April 22, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Another reason why Nat’s answer is bull. My younger son is having his first problems with a bully this year (second grade). His teacher really is a little helpless to stop the actual bullying because the main culprit child is being pretty clever about keeping the worst stuff out of sight.

    You know what? She’s helping anyway. She listens to my son and believes him. She talks to me; she talks to the other child’s parents; she watches whenever the two of them are in close interaction and stops anything she sees. Within two days of my first reporting to her that there was a problem here, my son came home all smiles. I asked him if T had left him alone and his reply was “No. But I told Ms. H, and she called his parents!” The mere fact of being believed and having his teacher act on that belief, changed his experience from helpless misery to “T is a mean kid, but that’s not my fault.” And that’s all the difference in the world.

  79. Rebecca
    April 23, 2009 at 6:42 am

    It’s bullshit, as GallingGalla says, to excuse the teachers with the idea that they’re restrained in what they can do somehow.

    In primary school, and at my first secondary school, I was severely bullied. The first school ignored it; the secondary school actively subjected me some of the bastardry others have mentioned above (the being forced to sit down with ones tormentors as twisted “mediation” that Cara mentioned above being one of many).

    The second secondary school? Wouldn’t tolerate bullying at all. It was made very clear that bullying wouldn’t be tolerated, that there would be consequences, and that they wouldn’t have a bar of blaming the victim. I was very rarely bullied again – and if it was, it was never the same person for very long – the administration made damn sure they stopped.

    The choice is there. It’s just more convenient to let the queer kids get beaten up than to actually do something about it.

  80. Madmama
    April 23, 2009 at 8:28 am

    You are absolutely right that it is more convenient to just turn a blind eye and lend a deaf ear to those kids who are bullied. I’m sure that there are some teachers and some administrators SOMEWHERE that do the right thing and deal with the problem. But usually not. You know just yesterday, my 6th grade son came home with a scratched-up red cheek and I was like WTH? Some kid threw him down humped his face and slapped him in the face with his belt. He told the teacher. SHe just ignored him and gave him this attitude like you’re always whining. He says this kid does this all of the time to some of the boys. I mean, are we living in a crazy world where the adults who are suppposed to be educating, guiding, and protecting our children are allowing these horrible things to happen? WHY?? And please understand, this is small-town America we’re talking about. And the bully? A “southern star” baseball player on his team. SO at the age of 12, my son is already “getting” that athletes are somehow above their peers and reprocussion! Thanks, teacher!

  81. Tara
    April 23, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I was bullied, taunted and teased mercilessly when I was a kid (from grades 2 to 9). What I remember the most was how glazed over the teachers and other admins acted when I went to them about it. The silent message was that they had better/more important things to do than deal with my woes of being harrassed, so I will add to the “anti-teacher” chorus. Like many others who have shared their stories of being terrorized by other children while those in positions of authority did nothing, I made it . I can’t really say how. Maybe I had no choice. Two children are dead because they too felt as though they had no options. WTF is up with adults being PAID to be in the schools? I don’t buy the “but their hands are tied and they aren’t allowed to discipline kids” crap, either. If the teachers really tried to do something, these precious kids would be alive.

  82. Laura
    April 23, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Let me preface this comment by saying that I am adamantly pro-teacher. I love teachers. I think they are some of the strongest, most wonderful and most underappreciated people on the planet. I am who I am today because a handful of incredible teachers saw potential in me and would not allow me to squander that potential. They were great teachers, and good people. But not all teachers are great, and not all of them are good people.

    Flashback to my junior high school days in the early 1980s. My best friend was gay. The abuse he suffered was appalling. Gym class was a nightmare; he always emerged from the locker room sobbing, usually with some new bruise or cut that he would then have to explain to his homophobic father and stepmother. They were no help to him whatsoever, nor were the many teachers who witnessed this abuse over the years. Finally a group of friends and I went to the administration and appealed for sanity and safety. My friend was suicidal by then, and we begged for intervention. We were told that my friend had brought this abuse on himself. “If he wasn’t such a sissy,” the vice-principal said, “he’d defend himself and you kids wouldn’t have to.” He stated implicitly that he condoned this behavior because he agreed with it. He shared the abusers’ and teachers’ homophobia. So to him, the abuse wasn’t really abuse at all.

    Flash forward now to three years ago, when my daughter was in lower elementary school. She’s a bright, well-adjusted kid who had lots of friends. Suddenly she started coming home from school silent and sad, but would not tell me what the problem was. I called the teacher, but she claimed not to know what was going on. This went on for days. Silent and sad became sobbing and distraught. Finally, after taking her out for a milkshake and a pair of new sneakers, I got her to talk to me. She was being verbally abused….on religious grounds. It hit me that the other kids in her grade, the vast majority of whom shared the same ethnic and religious background, were all going through a typical rite of passage within their religious communities. So of course they were talking about their experiences at school. Some kid turned to my daughter and asked what church she went to. Thinking nothing of it, she gave the information, which is quite different from what they were expecting — and the abuse began immediately. Some of the insults hurled at her were absolutely vile. So I went to the teacher again. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that “religious bullying does not happen at this school.” I went to the principal and was told the same thing. Both women shared the same religion as my daughter’s abusers, and had never heard of my family’s religious practice. The principal looked me in the eye and said, “Well, if it were a mainstream religion, I’m sure whatever your daughter claims is happening would not be happening.”

    The parallels between the two stories should be obvious. In both cases, the teacher/administrator shared the prejudices of the abusers, so they did not see what was happening as real abuse. In both cases, the adults in charge blamed the victims. And in both cases, the other professionals on site, some of whom were extremely good at what they did, closed ranks around the handful of bad people who allowed it to happen.

    There are great teachers who are good people all over the country. They have the power to shape the lives of their students in profound and lasting ways. Unfortunately, there are also lousy teachers who are bad people all over the country, and they also have this power, which has now become deadly. No teacher’s hands are tied when verbal abuse and physical bullying take place. To stand by idly while it goes on for fear of losing one’s career is morally reprehensible.

    Both my friend and my daughter were able to leave the schools where the abuse took place. Not every kid has that luxury.

  83. I understand
    April 24, 2009 at 9:36 am

    I understand what this boy must have been going through. I was bullied from middle school to high school.I was assaulted, spat upon and verbally abused on the school bus and nothing was ever done about it. The bus driver could have cared less. Being different makes you a target and it’s wrong. He was a beautiful child who didn’t deserve to leave this Earth the way that he did. A friend of mine in HS shot himself down the street from me. He was bullied too. This has to stop. The parents of these bullies need to be held accountable. This behavior starts at home and another child must not lose their life because of this.

  84. Kat
    April 24, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Laura – you have two great examples of what happens when teachers condone bullying and I am so sorry your friend and your daughter had the experiences that they did. I am sorry YOU had to witness it and I think it is admirable that you stepped up in both cases and looked for help. But I think what you are missing is that those “great” teachers you had were most likely aware their professional peers were actively supporting bullying of your friend, and that the great teachers at your daughter’s school probably also overlooked the way your daughter was treated.
    Apathy is also a form of abuse. Sitting by and letting others in your profession act in such a manner does as much damage to these victims as the one doing the bullying. It creates an environment where the victim feels like no one sees their pain, no one will help them. It doesn’t matter how many students any given teacher inspires – if they sit by and do nothing to stop even one child from being abused, they are not a “great” teacher.
    My two children are spaced by 5 years. One is in 1st grade and one is in 6th grade. The way I am treated by teachers in each of their environments varies a great deal. In my 1st grader’s school, I am treated politely, professionally, and with respect. In my 6th grader’s school? Not so much. And why? Because my 1st grade is “typical”, well-adjusted, and socially savvy. He is easy. My 6th grader has a disability and is socially awkward and requires lots of extra support. He is hard.
    Its easy to teach the easy kids. You can make a career of it. Doing right by the hard kids – now that’s something that is respectable and qualifies as great work.

  85. Randy
    April 24, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Tragic…the lies that our culture believes and perpetuates. I learned in my University education that sexuality is on a grey scale, that few people are entirely hetero-sexual or homo-sexual. This means Kurt Cobain was right when he said, “everyone is gay”. Our culture as a whole needs to know this. We need to stop torturing and punishing people we perceive to be ‘gay’. If anyone cares so much…they should take a look inside the “gay” world; you’re likely to find the same percentage of effeminate men or masculine women as any in any group.

    The real problem is the oppressors or “bullies” we need damage control with them! Bullies need help. We need to teach our children that bullies are sick and impose their pain on others; they should be quickly identified and helped. Yes, I too as a very young child was, and in more covert ways still am punished for my effeminate appeal. I know what I’m projecting, but I don’t feel it on the inside as non-male behavior. Two of the boys in high school that harassed me constantly and called me a fag at every opportunity adopted a “gay” lifestyle after high school. These poor guys were hating on me because of their own self loathing, one was effeminate, the other not-he was a popular jock.

    I am grieving the loss of Jaheem and Carl, I have felt their deep pain and the suffering that lingers. The sweet individuals they were are rare in this world, we will all suffer the loss of them, and we may never know what they would have offered to our ignorant, badly behaved culture.

    I see it this way: All that God made is good…Jaheem, Carl and me too!

  86. William
    April 24, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    The real problem is the oppressors or “bullies” we need damage control with them! Bullies need help. We need to teach our children that bullies are sick and impose their pain on others; they should be quickly identified and helped.

    This may be a bit theoretical and off-topic, but I think thats a dangerous place to go. I don’t necessarily disagree that the genesis of a lot of homophobia is a discomfort with one’s own internal process, but making the leap to calling that sick invites some pretty dangerous consequences. Defining a certain way of thinking or experiencing the world as “sick” opens those who have been declared ill to systems of dominance that could well do more damage. Saying “bullies need help” is easy, but the reality is that any “help” given is likely to be coercive and verge on thought policing.

    In general I think we need to do away with the idea that some ways of thinking are healthy and some are sick because that is the fundamental mindset that leads to this homophobic behavior in the first place. Simply inverting the values and changing the social force applied isn’t going to do anything about the underlying problem of a society which tells people that certain kinds of thought are sick. It wasn’t too long ago that being gay was considered an illness (hell, the ICD codes for mental illness still have a code for homosexuality) and right now there is a very real fight going on over whether or not trans-spectrum experiences are going to be classified as mental illness in the DSM-V.

  87. Justice 4 Jaheem
    April 24, 2009 at 5:03 pm


    Dunaire Elementary
    651 South Indian Creek Drive
    Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083

    1-678-676-5502 (Office)


  88. josh
    April 24, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    WTF. 11 years old and he commited suicide. 11 FREAKING YEARS OLD.

  89. kaya
    April 24, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    I am so infuriated and disgusted that this happened to such a young boy and that this is the second time its happened in the past few weeks. Just think to what this does to everyone as a community and as a nation. We must also take into consideration about school shootings and how bullying instigates them. But most of all we must acknowledge all those other kids who are still being bullied and lifes are at risk for suicide or death. Bullying has to stop! Any form of bullying has to end now! Not tomorrow, not in a year, it needs to stop “today”! or else all your kids good or bad will tolerate and allow bullying to go on. Parents you are responsible, schools(teachers administration counselors yard duties) you are responsible, bullies and witnesses your are all responsible. I say this because I was a victim of bullying infact sexual harrassment (which is the same as calling someone a fag) that I faced everyday for two years in high school. Its not acceptable, its not ok and believe me i’m still traumatized I hav’nt got over it. Its not something to just let slip by. There needs to be restitution for the bullies and fines however far we can push a law to punish and put an end to classroom, playground, and workplace bullying. If I don’t see change I won’t have hope for a better future. Thats why I will do whatever it takes to make ppl aware, but also stand up for this cause and speak out for this cause and protest against it! This issue is like a war in itself so why not protest it!!

  90. lucky girl (PH)
    April 25, 2009 at 5:19 am

    I realized i am so lucky that i survived being bullied. i hate it when my classmates(boys) call me weird names. Until now those incidents of bullying left a mark inside my personality. I don’t know if it is pleasurable to them bullying someone else. My teacher knew this but she didn’t do anything to stop them. For me the school should be blame also for this because in my case, my teachers know what’s happening but didn’t care. They only want to finish their lectures and chat with other teachers and exchange information about their lives.

  91. Ricky
    April 25, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Our hearts go out to melt with the many family’s who loose one to suicide every 16 minutes. Especially send our love to Jaheem and Carl’s Family at this time. Our son wanted to take his life at 10 years old but waited till he was 30 years old. Hopefully one day soon schools will appropriately act or be mandated lawfully to act to save lives. Its time is way over due for mental illness to be not be fully addressed and cared for in all our USA States. Its time we really got united on this true effort to save lives, to really care about one another, no matter what. Let’s please kick the Bully’s Ass worldwide to educate for real all students on depression, mental illness, brain disorders, etc.

  92. April 26, 2009 at 1:15 am

    How disgusting that this beautiful little boy is driven to commit suicide because he is “gay.” Where was the school? Why weren’t the bullies expelled? Why wasn’t Jaheem homeschooled or transferred? One day, God willing, most people will be gay and the straight/violent society won’t be reproducing bullies, who drive the beautiful ones to suicide.

  93. maya
    April 26, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    woww. that is sad that nobody took responsibility after his death and nobody tried to stop it PEOPLE THESE days are so mean and careless

  94. Roxanne Roberts
    April 26, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Let’s see now: what do you think is more effective?

    A: TAKE THE KID OUT OF SCHOOL and HOME SCHOOL HIM until he graduates.

    B: Introduce programs about kindness and tolerance and try to change
    the subculture of homophobia in junior high males, prevalent in every school across the United States, and no doubt the entire world.

    Parents: You were “aware” your kid was being bullied and yet you thought
    complaining to the teachers and principal would solve the problem? How?
    You want your kid to survive to adulthood? Get him out of that environment!
    The buck stops with you. So love your kid, and make the effort.
    Kids: Stop minimizing the problem and just refuse to go to school.
    When the police come to force you to go to school, refuse to go anyway.
    Every day. Until your parents put you into therapy and then the shrink
    will speak up on your behalf and tell your stupid parents to take you out of
    the abusive environment aka junior high school aka “hell on earth.”

  95. April 26, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    Right, Roxanne. And how does this help all the kids who don’t have supportive parents and families? How does this help parents in communities, like working-class communities and communities of color, who could lose their children if they’re not seen as fit enough parents to make those children go to school? What about single parents and parents who need two incomes to survive, who are at work and cannot afford to homeschool their children? What about those who can’t afford a “shrink” or only have access to one who thinks bullying is a healthy way to beat the queer out of deviant kids? When the police come to force you, refuse to go–do you have any idea how that sounds for people who come from communities targeted by police brutality? How unworkable and naive that is?
    And how, again, does this fix the situation or solve anything other than maybe protecting one out of many individuals who need it, while throwing up our hands at a real and solvable problem by saying well, it’s widespread, why bother?
    Shaming parents who don’t have the resources to use your privileged, I’ll-get-mine “solution” isn’t going to help them or bullied children. Grow up.

  96. debbie
    April 27, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Because everyone has the time or ability to homeschool their children? I don’t have the numbers handy, but I do know that there aren’t that many families where there is an adult at home to do that work. And while therapy is great, good therapists are hard to come by, especially if you don’t have very much money/insurance. Maybe you could check some of your class privilege here?

    I don’t disagree with you entirely. I just stopped going to school, and managed to work my way through the system and go on to university, and ultimately graduate school (aided by heaping doses of race and class privilege, as well as generally supportive parents). But my parents couldn’t have homeschooled me. They both worked full-time. I know very few people who had a parent or other adult who was able and willing to homeschool. Older kids may not need someone who is at home all day to teach or supervise, but we’re talking about 11 year olds here.

    I don’t know much about the actual workings of homeschooling in the US, but I can imagine that race is also a factor to consider. I’m not knowledgeable enough to offer an opinion on that subject.

  97. feeling-the-pain
    April 27, 2009 at 1:05 am

    These stories about children killing themselves due to bullying just make my heart really ache for them. I, too, am a victim of bullying or harrassment & I am 18 years old, being harrassed by a 16 year old. I didn’t do anything up until recently about this constant harassment, but I am hoping that something will be done about this soon. I would never take my own life because of bullying or harrassment because that is just giving in to the sick people who do the bullying. They want us to give in to them & we must show them that we are stronger than that. Parents, if your child comes to you about being bullied or harrassed, take it seriously. If you’re a teacher, administrator or officer, please take it seriously when somebody comes to you as a victim of harrassment or bullying. Don’t let it get this far.

  98. Brittany
    April 27, 2009 at 3:50 am

    He’s a beautiful little boy. It’s so sad that this had to happen. God bless him and his family [R.I.P Jaheem Herrera]

  99. debbie
    April 27, 2009 at 8:55 am

    little light said it better than I did. I’m going to be chewing over the issue of education, bullying, and who gets considered a “fit” or “unfit” parents.

  100. April 28, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Christ, you know a society is totally screwed up when elementary school kids are hanging themselves.

    What I don’t understand is how many people continue to fail to recognize the role that sexual orientation plays in the suicide of young people. Gay teenagers openly gay, or obviously gay and effeminate males, or Butch masculine females are several times more likely to kill themselves than the average messed up teenager. Obviously young children who recognize that they are gay at an early age are finding themselves in the same situation.

    And why is that? Well for anyone with eyes who has grown up in America and bothered to take notice of how gay people and teenagers are treated by their peers, you should already know the answer that question.

    My whole life, starting in high school when I became fully aware of these things I’ve watched gay young people be ostracized, abused, bullied, beaten up and generally treated as second or third class citizens in our society.

    None of the straight males wanted to be open friends with the gay males in my high school, for fear of being seen as gay themselves. So when gay kids were being abused and trashed in public, almost no one would say anything or stick up for them, except for some of the girls, who didn’t have to worry about being stigmatized themselves.

    Looking back on this now I see how shameful and wrong it was to allow this to happen to young people. But by high school I suppose most of them had already been dealing with this crap for years from friends and family members, so they just took it in stride most of the time. Now I better understand the inner pain and suffering that they were experiencing, pain and suffering that they had to hide from everyone for fear that the abuse would just get worse. Teenagers and children can be very cruel, cruelty they learn from their parents, and when they see a weakness in a person, they often exploit that weakness in order to make themselves look strong and more confident in front of their friends.

    So nobody should be at all surprised when one of these kids kills themselves, or picks up a gun and kills someone else, as a result of the enormous pressures they often find themselves under. Maybe if Gay and lesbian teenagers started smoking bullies and their abusers on a regular basis, maybe this issue would get the attention it deserves. That seems to be the only thing that gets people’s attention these days, when one of these kids explodes and gives back some of what they’ve been getting.

    And the adult world is certainly no better on these issues. I remember when I worked for Chrysler, and one of the mechanics in our shop who was pretty much openly gay, I remember the continual verbal abuse he had to put up with from the other mechanics and salesmen, even his boss the general manager of the dealership. I remember how they would make fun of him and disrespect him when he turned his back and walked away, not even waiting till he was out of earshot because they just didn’t give a damn how he felt, and knew there was nothing he could do about it. I remember how they would use him as their whipping boy whenever they had a problem, be it personal, or business related. That kind of thing takes a heavy toll on a person over years and decades.

    This decent hard-working talented guy always got the sh-t jobs that no one else wanted, and he was never treated as an equal or with any respect by anyone, other than some of his female coworkers who were not threatened or fearful of associating with him. It was despicable, and wrong, and I didn’t say anything at the time for fear that I would be ostracized and labeled gay myself. I was wrong for not standing up for this person’s rights, I was wrong for just going along to get along. I was wrong to allow myself to buy into the idea that society needs someone on the bottom to ridicule and berate so that very small insecure people can feel better about themselves and their place in such a dysfunctional social structure. I was wrong to assume that it wouldn’t affect me and those around me. I was wrong to think that just because I didn’t participate in the ridicule and the abuse, that I was somehow clean and unsullied by these experiences. I most certainly was not, well I realize that now.

    I’ve seen this happen in many different social circumstances in many different places, I’ve seen it happen to Haitian people, and Mexican people, and African-American people and gay and lesbian people. I’ve seen it happen to people based on their ethnicity, religion and political beliefs, and I will no longer remain silent no matter who I see being forced to inhabit this miserable lonely unhappy place.

    You’ve got to stand up for others and say NO MORE OF THIS, especially those of us who have experienced such degradation ourselves, those who know how awful and devastating this kind of abuse can be, how it can rip an adults guts out and destroy a young developing persons spirit before they’ve even had a chance to get their bearings in this world. We all have to stand up, otherwise we all just become part of the problem, part of a continuing destructive cycle that in the end always, and I mean ALWAYS brings down everyone in the society which continues to tolerate such intolerable behavior. And if we don’t stand up for the rights of others, we better not expect anyone to stand up for us when our turn rolls around again, and it always does sooner or later. You can bank on that.

    Everyone has value, and the moment you start to devalue someone based upon their differences, regardless of how those differences manifest themselves, the moment you do that, then you are the problem my friend, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

    So the next time you see this thing happening to some kid, speak out, speak up, take a stand and make some noise for the cause of righteousness and liberty, find the courage to DO THE RIGHT THING, and maybe you just might save the life of a valuable special person, a person who could turn out to be a great friend, a person who just might make your life and everyone else’s existence in this difficult world just a little bit better, a little bit more bearable and humane.

  101. Dr.Jay
    April 29, 2009 at 12:16 am

    It is very sad that many young people experience situations such as this. Also, I don’t understand how any administrative official could overlook any complaint from any student. However, I experienced a lot in school as well, and I had many teachers telling me that I was dumb and many students taunted me for a long period of time. In fact, no one came to my rescue, and I find it devastating that teachers and staff members aren’t doing anything to prevent such actions from happening again. Finally, my prayers goes out to all the individuals that have lost their lives because of other vexatious people taunting them.

  102. April 29, 2009 at 4:51 am

    first off, many condolences to the families of these young people, and to anyone going through this situation…

    i could be wrong, but the one thing people here have not discussed is the idea of ‘perception’. people have made posts on this blog in my opinion, assuming both of these children were, or may have been gay. as far as i know, neither one of them have identified as such, and now we will never know, because they are no longer physically among us.

    when i was 12 i was called gay, because i didn’t have a significant enough attraction for boys. whether or not i sexually identified with anything was not the real issue for me; the key to so many young people’s so-called happiness (to most likely prevent bullying) is complacency; this also requires, in some way, for there to be complacency (or conformity) regarding sexuality.

    i grew up in an abusive household as well, and amongst this general abuse i was beat up and harassed by my sister almost every day, once or twice having to go to the emergency room because of it. in the midst of my teenage years i have made several attempts to kill myself, and i never told anyone until later. i struggle with this to this day. i was a quiet kid, so most people i went to school with physically left me alone. and because my mother’s best friend when i was growing up was gay, i was aware of homosexuality, but i never knew the social impact of it until other kids started calling me gay.

    this leads to the old adage: ‘education begins at home’. where else would these kids be receiving information that another one of their peers could POSSIBLY be gay, due to some perceived behaviors? “well, she doesn’t TALK about liking boys, so of COURSE’ she’s gay!’ many of us have been socialized that boys act a certain way and girls act another way, and when you are told enough times that ‘you’re not like a ‘real’ boy or girl because of some socialized notion of whatever that means- then that is enough for some kids to want to kill themselves. because they may never feel that they will fit in this world.

    also, in quite a few ways, race is indeed a factor in this. to be a black child and a quiet child who reads a lot shows a sign of weakness (this happened when i was growing up, and as we can see this still happens today). reading is a ‘white’ thing. the hypersexualization of black men and women has perpetuated itself over time, and has obviously extended itself to our young people. adding this to the perception which still holds true in some ways- that homosexuality is NOT a ‘black thing’- any ‘feminine acting’ black boy is OBVIOUSLY gay, whether or not he has identified as such. this hatred of homosexuality carries over into internalized hatred in many ways, thus presenting itself as violence.

    once again, we do not know the sexual orientations of carl or jaheem, and it doesn’t necessarily make sense to argue about it on this end (being that they are no longer here to represent themselves)… however, it’s important to look at the hateful effects of perception in terms of bullying and abuse. it is also important to look at the systemic effects of the perpetuation of the abuse on people who choose not to conform to certain social behaviors or attitudes, when these folks do no harm to the rest of the community in any way.

    my heart goes out to the families of these two beautiful black young people. they are now in a better, more peaceful place, where they are loved for who they truly are. peace…

  103. Concerned Mom
    April 29, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    It is saddening that bullying has reach these extents. My daughter is being bullied. The bully has not stopped and I have spoken to the teacher and she brushes me off saying she’s never seen it happened. I asked her to pay attention on how this child’s mean remarks is not only hurting my child but other children. This kid had the nerve to make fun of my daughter who is petite saying that if she ate certain foods she was going to get fat. Her mother teaches her how its okay to be a “barbie” (boob jobs, botox, starvation, diet foods, etc) and how that is how you need to be. My daughter stopped eating and her weight loss was the equivalent of an adult loosing 30 pounds. I went to her father to speak to him about this behavior and he said he would address it and that his daughter’s therapist said that if other parents haven’t said anything it was just me.

    I ended up speaking to his daughter on how powerful her words are and if she has nothing nice to say to keep her mouth shut! I told her that at this point I didn’t care if her mother tells her that people will get over it and that it is okay because it isn’t. I told her how she would feel to know that because she is such a bully an innocent child would kill themselves because they can’t handle it anymore. She was terrified of my words but I told her that kids her age, younger and older commit suicide over people like her. I reminded her that her behavior and bullying is the reason why she has no friends. I ended up having to speak to her father again because she did it to another child at school and had no remorse but only cared about saving her ass by lying. This time her father stepped up to the plate.

    It’s gut wrenching and my heart goes out to the family. I couldn’t fathom going thru such a loss and I really hope they hold not only the children accountable but the parents and the school. Schools need to realize to take parents concerns seriously and to stop having teachers brush things off as kids being kids. !

  104. April 30, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I am an Independent filmmaker based in Atlanta, GA. My latest short film ‘Even Cactus goes to Heaven” is a true story of 8 year old who is a daughter of lesbian parents. The film is part of 2009 Cannes Short film corner. The movie’s entire cast is all real life victim of bullying and abuse.
    Helia Anthus has a problem. She is different. She is bullied by most of the other kids in the neighborhood. But when her only friend loans her a book, she learns that being different can also mean being special.

  105. Steve understands these crimes
    May 1, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I’m also in process of responding separately to a letter written to a MD newspaper, where the writer – essentially parroting the words of the Catholic hierarchy, complains about children, during a Unity Day in Carroll County Schools in MD, joining with parents etc to end bullying, and exposed everyone to how homophobia is a big driver of that problem. To the writer of the letter to on that subject, gay people should continue to be driven into a closet of shame, so no one realizes what religious terrorism of some churches on this subject is all about, and no one realizes what it does to gay people, and as we see here str8 people as well.

    That writer’s letter also plays the old ‘blame the victims’ game, trying to keep the suicides of 3000 gay or assumed gay kids every year (like having 9/11 EVERY YEAR thanks to some of our religions) in a closet. That writer would rather that the bullying continue, then church based homophobic dogma be exposed for all to see. She also offers up the old “they can be cured argument” ignoring what the AMA, American Pediatric Association, and the 3 main American Psych associations say – that sexuality – str8 or gay – is an inborn trait. And and genetic evidence is being found to further extend this branch of medical science. And that most of those who go through church conversion therapy either end up depressed, sometimes to suicide, or just live a lie for decades before admitting their conversion was a lie.

    People who say “being gay can be cured” raises the question: does anything needs to be cured? Perhaps a cure is needed for religious conservatives disdain for people who don’t fit their norm and dogma. And their churches are hell bent to prevent the truth coming out. Truth that will expose their ‘house of cards’, built on many lies. For if the church’s house of cards called faith, built on victimization and guilt, is exposed via science and reason, their power collapses. And the church’s terrorism of gay people, similar to some ways to what it did for millenia to the Jews will be exposed for all to see.

    But there is much hope. In Europe Gay people are largely fully accepted, even though low level religious ignorance and homophobia still exists. Almost every mainstream West European country, and about 13 others grant legal based marriages or pseudo marriages called civil Unions to gay couples. And here in the USA 4 states allow civil marriage rights for gays and lesbian people, 3 to 5 more are poised to do so, and some others grant the pseudo marriage rights of civil Unions.

    And as time passes, the conservative churches, who say they will neverl change their spots, will be seen for what they are – using a combination of very clever wording that induces homophobia that blames the victims, and then promises false cures – all to increase their perceived power . Ultimately, their exposure will be nearly complete, and they will become part of the dust bin of history.

    Meanwhile about half a dozen different US denominations will do gay marriage religious ceremonies, and three moderate christian branches are moving in that direction.

    Homophobia, and those murdered by the words that support it (“who me – I didn’t DO anything”) are being exposed. The crime is that it is taking so long, and that so many people don’t realize how many non-gay people as well – usually children suffer, and even die because of the lever these churches give to bullies, in their never ending quest for power.

    It is more then sad. It is a national tragedy. And the conservative churches won’t change until the pews are filled only with dust, and they are headed for the dustbin of history.

  106. t.m.l
    May 5, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    i am truly disgusted with what society has came to be. An 11 year old boy….seeing SUICIDE as his only way out? how can this be humanly possible….its one thing for the school to tolerate it and take no action , but another for his parents to do so. Even if the child tried to hide his feelings, the parents still should of known to completely take their child out of this situation. Im more than sure their are other schools in their area, but you see it is too late for that family and that poor little boy. And that is the true tragedy, i hope everyone especially parents of young children at this crucial age learn a lesson in taking charge and not putting something as little as “bullying” aside because its horrifying events like this that make everyone question whether things will ever change for the better of our world.

  107. Cas
    May 6, 2009 at 10:42 am

    the thing that kinda worries me (even though i dont have kids) is that theres still stuff going on and no ones doing anything about it even after what happened at columbind (spelling arg) and virginia tech (again sorry if that spelled wrong)

    kids already take guns to school all it takes is one really bad day anda gun and someone will get hurt

    i dropped out of school at 13 and im glad i did after hear news that ‘bulling’ was on the rise and then the events i mentioned before

  108. Cas
    May 6, 2009 at 10:58 am

    it wont let me edit my first post so let me say this here

    i do feel for the families that lost their children

    and as many have said already the schools do need to stop this from EVER happening again

    and since so many have said all that is worth saying and in a much better way ill shut up now

  109. kirsty
    May 6, 2009 at 11:01 am

    i dont like the fact people cant be them selves anymore withought someone calling them names and bulluing,
    this boy was just so young and he should have had a fulll life ahead of him.
    this is just tragic and very infuriating.

  110. MomOf3
    May 6, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I just watched about these kids on oprah, I cried for them, but I also cried for my son. His father has him but he tells me (my son does) of being bullied at school for being over weight. Told he is fat, and eats too much. My hands ARE tied. I have no legal rights to speak to his teacher, and my ex claims he has spoken to his teacher and they agree that it is HIS fault for choosing to hang out around these kids, I dont see how that is possible, You can see the pain in his eyes when he talks aboiut it. The ex is downplaying it so much, and i fear he and the teacher are seeing it as “boys will be boys” or “he will learn and get stronger from it” , or maybe that it just isnt that big of a deal.. Anyone out there have any advice?

  111. danielle
    May 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    This just tells you that are school systems SUCK ASS big time and i fear for my kids to even go to school whats going to be next little 11 years boys and girls brining guns and knifes to school because their dumbass teachers just brushed it off and they are probaly against gays their selfs. Isnt this AMERICA free country we are all people and we can not help if we decide to be gay or straight who cares anyway as long as they are not showing pda in school who cares dont pick on this worlds future! Every school in america needs to have a serious talk with their students and if a kid is being bullied they need to listen and give those kids proper treatment for being that way if they dont we are going to be seeing a lot more of this saddness! Who knows think about it your kid could be next make sure your their for them when they need you and pay close attention.

  112. danielle
    May 6, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    dear momof3 i feel for you i do the best thing i can tell you is be there for him talk talk talk try to get your self on a diet so mabey he will see you and want to try. or try walking around the block just you and him some bonding together.

  113. oluh;u
    May 6, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Cameras in the class room.

  114. Susan
    May 7, 2009 at 1:41 am

    When I first heard about the suicides my heart dropped to the floor. Just to think that an 11 yr old child would even consider suicide as an option is absolutely heart wrenching. What kind of turmoil must one be at with himself to resort to such drastic measures. It’s not my place to judge whom ever is at fault, but we all have a moral obligation to be compassionate of those lost and everyone grieving for those two precious babies, and to also take a look at our lives and the lives of our children to make sure we are doing our part, no matter how small, to change the world and make it a better place to raise those children.

  115. musicbox15
    May 14, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    back in 2004 my baby brother hung him self he was 12
    i found him i was 13
    he to was tunted

  116. piferndale
    May 14, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I can’t believe the parent didn’t realize that this was a major problem in these kids lives. Didn’t they walk into their rooms with the kids in tears? Maybe these parents were in poverty and had no recorse. I AM NOT blaming the parents. But parental invlovement in these matters is so important. As a kid I was bullied, jumped, harrassed, called gay in the third grade. That was at a Catholic school in Detroit. My parents had to take me out of a few schools. I ended up going to 6 different schools from k-12. My heart too goes out to these parents. And the teachers really do need to step in and send the harrassers to the principals office. If anyone says bullying doesn’t effect self esteem and normal interactions of the bullied kids lives, they just have no clue.

  117. Bill Allen, Jr.
    May 15, 2009 at 2:19 am

    It was with crestfallen grief, profound pain and an inexorable degree of ire, rancor and rage–that I read about the two fallen angels, Carl Walker-Hoover and Jaheem Herrera. Both of their senseless deaths say more about the”civilized” state of our society, than it does about “mere bullying.” The fact that educators, administrators and school board members decided, (yes… it WAS a DECISION), to cast a blind eye to severity of this problem–makes them ALL culpable! The parents of the bullies and the bullies themselves, perpetuated the most dour/and degenerate forms of behaviorism; that have unfortunately only increased with greater savagery…as the decades have passed.
    For almost 28 years, I was an award-winning teacher. Not so much that the heinous district that I worked for, truly valued me…but they valued the RESULTS that I was able to nurture from my students (middle school, high school and community college). For I was NOT a “conformist absolutist.” I bended the rules, because my students NEEDED INDIVIDUAL TEACHING. They learned about –tolerance, real humanity, flexibility, challenging oneself to go BEYOND the rigidly encased boarders of “pre-judging,” and accepting less from themselves (academically, culturally, cross-culturally and sociologically. All of this was done while teaching Academic and Fine Arts Disciplines. When RACISM, HOMOPHOBIA, SEXISM, AGEISM AND CLASSISM/CASTISM REARED ITS UGLY HEAD…I STOMPED ON IT; BEFORE it had a chance to grow a body along with the head. This was my God-Given Responsibility! For I was in charged of God’s Children; and had to teach some of His demented older children (the “Adults”), things that they needed to learn. For it was not too long ago, that I experienced what Carl and Jaheem experienced. Everything…but a physical death. But Lord knows, that my SOUL had been abused so many, many times.
    So, Carl and Jaheem gave up their lives, so that this “super advanced, technologically astute, creature comforted-modern-day society…could try and attempt to learn WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN. If any of you obtain the addresses of these two boys’ parents, I hope that you can post it. We need to send them our spiritual love and support. Maybe one day, man/woman will
    GET IT RIGHT! But until then, we must go deep into clogged arteries of our hearts and ponder–what great masters have given to discern:
    “Evil enters like a needle and spreads like …an oak tree.”
    An Ethiopian Quote

    “Not to know is bad, but not to want to know…is worse.”
    A Gambian Quote

    WHEN will we know? When WILL we know? When will we KNOW?

  118. Motheragainstbullies
    May 24, 2009 at 9:07 am

    My heart goes out to this family. I am sicken by what goes on with kids that bully other kids. My son has been bullied by a few boys on the school bus, but he never said anything to me about it. I would notice that he would not want to go near the boys at the bus stop. Then one day he said that the boys were calling him names. So I asked him what are they saying, he wouldn’t tell me becasue he said that they were bad words. My son is in 3rd grade and the bullies are in 4th and 5th grade. The names they called my son were “sexual geek, you have no balls, you are a girl”. Well when I heard that I was outraged. I took the matter into my own hands and confronted the mothers of these boys to make it stop or I will take it to the school principal and to the town police department. Our school has zero tolerence for this kind of stuff and so do I. One mother when approached with the situation that her son was bullying my son. She looked at me folded her arms and responded to me that her boy does not “click” with my son. Well does that give him the right to bully?????? This parent is a tipical ASS$%#@!!! It’s parents like this that don’t reprimand their kids and teach them what is right or wrong. My son is now suffering from alienation, becasue the bully has influenced other boys in the neighborhood not to play with him. I hope they grow out of this behavior.

  119. Ashley
    July 8, 2009 at 8:20 am

    This breaks my heart!. As a bully victim, I know whats its like to be taunted. We eventually had to take it to court when the mother of my bully flipped me off, we got a restraining order. My father was ready to sue the school, I told them numerous times. In 6th grade we went in and talked to them but since it was not physical violence there was nothing they could do. In 8th grade I remember they finally moved me out of one of the classes, after 2 full years of torture which pissed me off because I had my whole schedule fucked because of some stupid bitch! Anyway i remember telling the guidance counselor, “why wasn’t this taken care of earlier?” He response,”We only recently put in a new system dealing with Bullies.” Wow. These schools need to set their fucking priorities right! My bullies got so bad to at the end of 7th grade I attempted suicide. I spent everyday in tears, I hated sleep, my mom had to lie with me untill I fell asleep everynight because I would be crying and having nightmares. all it took was one girl. One girl with enough evil and hatred toward me for what? Not being stick thin, not being as “gorgeous” as she and her stupid friends were. All it took was her to make me want to die. Do people not see how wrong that is? Middle school is the worst easily. People mature a bit by highschool.

  120. Lira825
    July 8, 2009 at 10:07 am

    My mom sent me an e-mail about this and when i read it my head was thinking, ” Oh my gosh this must be real hard on the family and that those kids learn not to pick on people anymore.” And sometimes si pick on people but i dont do it constently. This change my point of view on bulling and im going to stop because some one who i bully on can do the same thing and i dont want that to happen. I just want to say sorry for your guyes loss. God bless you. I just think this is so sad and its devestating that poeople would pick on thischild so much and the teachers and staff didnt suspened anyone! I think that is messed up. Maybe the teachers will also take something in and think that they need to be more on the kids who are bulling people and send them to the principals office.

  121. Starr
    July 9, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    There definitely is not a thing right about bullying and if the teacher thinks that this fixes children, they are as ignorant, and ruthless as the bullies themselves. NO child needs to be bullied and NO child should have to live with this probability of endangering his or her life and learning potentials.
    This ruins the lifes path of the child and ruins the probable chances of him or her standing at a higher formation in the world. Duck and hide is all the child wants to do at a bullying stage. It is all absolutely WRONG!!!!

  122. Natalie
    July 21, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    this is horrible i go to middle school well now im going to be in high school and after seeing this anytime i know someone is being bullied i will stand up for them i have not seen any cases yett but if i do i will not stand by and watch it go on ! i can not understand how some sick teachers can just let this kind of thing go on and not do anything because they think it can teach this child a lesonn ! well let me tell you somthin ther are MENNY ways to teach a child a lesson instead of crushing them nay, destroying with this bullying ! and for the kids that think there funny by bulling check yourself because i bet you cant even imagen how you will feel knowing your actions have caused a child his life ! and for the ones being bulled hang in there ! dont give in !!! dont let the bully win be strong even when they knock you down ! because no words stupid meanigless words that someone can say to you is worth your life ! SO PLEASE HANG IN THERE ! YOU ARE NOT ALONE !

  123. johan
    August 4, 2009 at 8:52 am

    I think the laws should be such that the responsible adults (teachers, school board, council) can be legally prosecuted for enticing to murder, which, in my view their attitude and refusal to take measures (if true) is, not just technically, but factually. I’m no lawyer, but I would say 30 years seems a reasonable penalty in the US context, it is a hate crime. I am genuinely surprised this doesn’t happen yet, but convinced it will in the near future. It will solve the problem instantaneously. These guys are horribly failed by society. No excuse. Get your legal system up to standard guys.

  124. August 13, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    (M.A.R.C.S. ) an acronym for murder, abuse, rape, chronic illness, suicide is not a joke it is serious our youth is at risk as well as our young adults. We all need to step up and help our children and our young adults with care from any point of view we all need to face reality. Mental issues end in with death.
    M.A.R.C.S. knows no boundries; M.A.R.C.S. doesn’t discriminate. A Wave of the future; Our future. Please spread the word we all need to be discussing these actions to our children and young adults through communication any way possiable. I write about things like this. My book : The Victims of M.A.R.C.S. has stories about this very problem ; Be aware this could be your child next.

  125. Greg Dale
    September 17, 2009 at 12:50 am

    It is a heartache for all involved. HOW can we stop this insanity. My 11 year old son tried to commit suicide tonight. I thank God that my wife was there to prevent it. He has been diagnosised with Aspenbergers Syndrome and is on medication for it. He is contantly bullied by other kids because of this. I am right now on temperary assignment in another province and I’m due out of here and headed home in 2 days. I have been here 2 weeks. My wife took him to the hospital and he is okay and is being set up for counseling and therapy. He also told the doctor part of the reason for wanting to die was because I was gone for so long. I do not go out of town very much for work unless there are emergencies and they are rare. I don’t know what to do. Has anyone got any answers?

  126. peggy
    September 28, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I recently saw a tv episode of another child suicide that broke my heart so much, I am on the web looking for any other information to see who/how I can help. It has bothered me for days. It is a terrible crime that these teachers do not interfer. I am sure they have the ability to do so in the majority of cases. It would be great to see some cases come forward that are prosecuted and precendence established such that teachers and parents will not tolerate this. It reflects an appauling lack of character and integrity on the part of the teaching community. It goes on in every school to different degrees and there needs to be preventive, proactive action to stop it.

  127. Joe
    September 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Does your child get bullied in school? Do you wish there was something you could do to make your child feel more confident? Well, we can help!

    A prominent cable television show is now casting in New York City and the surrounding Tri-state area. We are currently looking for a family where a child has been bullied in school. We want to work with you to boost your child’s self confidence and help them live a more enjoyable life.

    Please email us your story.

  128. Viola Herd
    October 4, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    This is truly a tragedy, I can personally say I have an 11 year old grandson and i can tell you the living hell he has been through for 3 years. I also have been to schools who administrators say he is an easy target. He was even suspended 3 times last year he could not take the tauntings. He did not want to labeled as gay just because he was not tough and would not fight back. He was ganged up on in Hampden Elementary School to the extent i had to pull him out of there. From there he went to a charter school. But shortly after being there within 2 years he was threatened with a knife the administrators said they had to catch it. I pulled him out of the charter and he was put in another elementary school Medfield Heights Elementary but still some of those old bullies went to that school. He has dislexia and has an IEP and they see that as a weakness and really put him through the mill. I took his cries very seriously when he said i cant do anything right I am not worth living. I went to the administrators and the Principal who says we have the most stringent bullying policy anywhere. We have to stop blaming the victim. I threatened to sue the Baltimore City School System for failure to protect. He went through a living hell for an entire year. This year is better he has made some real friends but i can tell you we need to change the management of these schools. He still has days where he comes home crying because he could not make little things like a hall monitor I was devastated for him. I wanted to cry that there is no real help I was so upset i even contenplated home school. He tried so hard only for these things to be given to the very bullies that taunted him. I can tell you i have called the police many times he has been spit on, beaten with sticks, called names and ridiculed called stupid and i really feel like something is very wrong with our society. It is a horrible thing for a child to feel worthless to really feel like they have no option but suicide. I have tried to tell him about bullies there school has a bullying program but i can tell you we need to come alot further along then the system is doing. This is a true hate crime. There is no other word for it. Unfortunately they are often overlooked by teachers, administrators, School Principals the school board. It is horrible If things do not look any brighter when he leaves this school into a middle school i am preparing for a class action law suite. I really think that is what it is going to take for people to stop these sensless deaths of these children. My heart really goes out to there families. I truly know what they have been through.

Comments are closed.