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Thread: Parents mourn 11-year-old son who killed himself after gay taunts

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Unhappy Parents mourn 11-year-old son who killed himself after gay taunts

    Bullied 11-year-old was called ‘faggot,’ physically attacked

    Above: During an April 21 vigil, Jaheem Herrera’s mother, Masika Bermudez, holds her daughters Yerralis, 10, and Ny’irah, 7, while her husband, Norman Keene, comforts her.
    Below: A makeshift memorial left to Jaheem Herrera, who killed himself after enduring gay taunts at his elementary school, is posted on the door of his family’s home.



    Jaheem Herrera took his own life rather than endure for one more month the physical attacks and gay slurs he faced as a student at Dunaire Elementary School in Georgia.
    Herrera, 11, came home from school April 16 upset about the continual abuse from classmates, went to his room and hanged himself in his closet with a cloth belt. Herrera’s mother, Masika Bermudez, and other parents said children at the suburban Atlanta school taunted Herrera daily and called him “gay.” Bermudez said she feared that is why her son took his own life — and that the bullies continue to harass others.
    “I don’t know how to explain, but that was my only little boy, my first born,” she said at a vigil held at their home April 21. “And now he’s gone, and nobody is going to replace him. Nobody.”
    Herrera and his family moved to the Atlanta area this year from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. His accent likely made him stand out at his school, where a pack of bullies hounded him with words like “faggot” and “gay” despite his interest in girls.
    “He would be writing notes to his little girlfriends, his friends, he was a clown,” his mother said in an interview before the vigil.
    “He’d do that Michael Jackson dance for them,” stepfather Norman Keene added.
    Bermudez and Keene struggled to understand how the situation became so dire a fifth-grader felt the only way out was to hang himself a month before the end of school.
    “We were all leaving for the summer,” Keene said. “He was excited to play on the beach and see his friends. Tickets were bought and everything.”
    “We were going home to play on the beach,” Masika Bermudez said. “Now I am going home to bury my son.”
    Bermudez and Keene clutched their remaining family tight as they tried to say goodbye to their only son at a vigil in front of their apartment.

    Herrera wasn’t the only boy bullied at Dunaire. Alice Brown’s son was Herrera’s friend and is bullied by the same kids, she said.
    “My son was in school on Thursday, and he said Jaheem had asked him if anybody would miss him if he wasn’t here,” Brown said at the vigil. After taking several breaths, she wiped away the tears gathering under her glasses before continuing. “And he told him that he was his friend, you know, that he would miss him.”
    Brown was one of several parents at the vigil who said their boys were harassed with gay slurs and the administration has done nothing to stop it. Monique McMiller said she has four boys at Dunaire and worked her way though the administration to the school board without any results when her 10-year-old was bullied last year.
    “They called him a faggot, they called him gay, they told him he was a momma’s boy, they told him he was all kinds of things, they beat him up in the bathroom,” she said. “He was constantly afraid to go to school.”
    Like several parents, McMiller said there is a systemic problem with the leadership at Dunaire and the school system.
    “When it was my son, I was told that children with behavior problems were mixed in with children who did not have behavioral problems, and that was astounding to me as a parent,” she said.
    The school system has not commented about Herrera’s death or the problem of bullying as a whole. DeKalb County Public School System spokesperson Dale Davis did not say whether the district was considering revising its bullying policy to include gay-specific protections, or if they were investigating conditions at Dunaire.
    “Our policy states that DeKalb County Schools will not tolerate bullying — you can read it online,” Davis said.

    Herrera’s family has retained an attorney and is contemplating legal action against the district.
    “I will not rest until I get justice for my son,” Bermudez said.
    Lawmakers made a push to tighten anti-bullying procedures in 2008, when state Sen. Chip Rogers, a Republican, introduced a bill that would have extended the definition of “bully” to include emotional distress and required schools to draft anti-bullying policies and parental notification.
    Rogers didn’t reintroduce the bill this year, but state Rep. Donna Sheldon, a Republican, introduced a bill to give schools the option of transferring students who physically assault another.
    “I have a constituent whose son had been bullied by a fellow classmate, and there ended up being a pretty severe altercation,” Sheldon said. “It resulted in my constituent’s son having to have reconstructive facial surgery. The police weren’t called immediately and it wasn’t handled the way we would have all liked it to be.”
    Sheldon introduced her bill because once the attacker completed his sentence at an alternative school, he would be allowed to be in the same classroom as his victim. The bill was introduced too late in this year’s session to move forward.
    “I definitely plan on moving it forward next year,” Sheldon said.

    Parents mourn son who killed himself after gay taunts - Washington Blade: Gay and Lesbian News, Entertainment, Politics and Opinion

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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    i hate bullies. i hope the parents sue the shit out of the school for not doing anything about this. and the parents of the boys should be made to suffer as well. arghhhhhh
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    Elite Member Sarzy's Avatar
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    Poor kid. Bullies are arseholes.

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    Elite Member Rondette's Avatar
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    Ugh, bullies...they are horrible..if the school had got involved it wouldn't have changed anything, it probably would have made it worse.
    I know when I got shit at school and my parents/school got involved the bullyers sat there all meek and good and as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. When we got back to school however, they tore me apart for getting them into trouble. You can't win.

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    Elite Member katerpillar's Avatar
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    Poor little boy. So incredibly tragic. RIP.

    When I was in 6th and 7th grade, I got bullied a lot, by both genders... including being called a lesbian and all kinds of crap. Ironically, the douchebag who used to tell people I liked girls and call me homophobic slurs and all that horrible BS is now, according to his Facebook page, a gay drag queen.

    Even when you survive your way through it, that sort of thing stays with you for the rest of your life. I can't wait until the day when I'm obviously successful and run into the people who made my life hell in primary school, and can be like "Ha! Look how much cooler than you I turned out to be!" I think a lot of my ambition and drive has come from a need to prove that I am not what they made me feel... instead of being powerless, dominated and socially isolated, I want to be the powerful, dominant and socially enviable one. Sort of a revenge-by-awesomeness fantasy, I guess.

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    Elite Member WhateverLolaWants's Avatar
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    There were times I thought about it, when the bullying just seemed overwhelming.

    The poor, poor kid. I wish he could have seen that it wouldn't last forever, but when you're that age, you just don't have the scope...Every day of dealing with it FEELS like forever
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhateverLolaWants View Post
    There were times I thought about it, when the bullying just seemed overwhelming.

    The poor, poor kid. I wish he could have seen that it wouldn't last forever, but when you're that age, you just don't have the scope...Every day of dealing with it FEELS like forever
    I'm so glad my younger years are behind me. It's much crueler world out there today than when I was in school. What's unfortunate is that, you're right, kids usually don't have the scope to see beyond that moment and are so incredibly vulnerable.

    The bullies may not give a crap now or realize the impact of their actions, but as the years go by and they grow a conscience and perhaps have a family of their own, their actions will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

    RIP Jaheem.

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    My take on this was this poor kid was picked on because he seemed 'different' (sadly I'm sure bullying happens everywhere, always has, always will, kids are cruel). He had an accent, etc. So the bullies targeted what they thought was an easy victim.

    What I am thinking is that the bullies used derogatory anti gay slurs not necessarily because they thought he was gay (article said he liked girls, not that it really matters), but because it's one of the most common slurs guys use against other guys in any situation when they are upset or fighting or whatever. I guess it's supposed to be a supreme insult to any guy's manhood to challenge his sexuality. Or something. That and the beatings were too much.

    Really sad story.

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    Elite Member MrsDark's Avatar
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    A friend of mine ran into a guy in a gay bar YEARS later who was one of the main jock assholes in school who used to physically and verbally abuse him on a regular basis.

    Now maybe this kid wasn't gay at all, but it just pisses me off that kids grow up with the type of thinking that even being thought of as gay would be such a horrific thing you would be pushed over edge and become suicidal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elisa View Post
    I'm so glad my younger years are behind me. It's much crueler world out there today than when I was in school.
    Same here.

    Honestly I cringe at imagining myself in middle or high school now...I mean it was bad enough when I attended (or so I thought) but I'm grateful because now it does seem SO much more difficult what with 'sexting' and cyber bullies, yada, etc which none of that was an issue when I attended school.

    Ugh.

    It really does seem so endless in the pre-teen/teenage years.

    I was bullied occasionally in elementary school but in middle school it got really bad. I was severely depressed and had suicidal thoughts by age 11 and although I held on I thought it would NEVER end.

    I am SO glad to be an adult now rather than a child or teenager.

    The times are much worse to be growing up in, imho.

    But you know what...what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and through all of the bullying and tormenting I went through it's given me a thicker skin and now I don't take shit from anybody.

    Move over- this girl's no longer a doormat. She's kickin' ass!

    Poor kid. :/

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    you gotta be fucking kidding me! this should not be happening in this country!

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    Elite Member Rondette's Avatar
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    I wonder how the bullies feel about this. They basically killed him.

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    Elite Member Mr. Authority's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rondette View Post
    I wonder how the bullies feel about this. They basically killed him.
    Hopefully a swift kick in the ass and a hard slap across the face by the parents of this poor child.

    Sad for a kid taking his life this young, all because he was tormented by a bunch of little monsters.

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    WHY didn't his parents move him to another school,or home school him if he was so miserable at school every day?
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    Elite Member Penny Lane's Avatar
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    Kids today are so fucking vicious, it makes me want to puke. I got teased for being fat and awkward when I was younger, but compared to the nasty things kids say to each other nowadays.. coupled with the pervasiveness of the internet and blogs and crap... I don't know how I would have coped with it. This poor little boy.. driven to death just because he was a little bit different in the eyes of his peers.

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