Sara Whitman

Another Boy Kills Himself

Filed By Sara Whitman | April 21, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Atlanta, bullying, Georgia, Jaheem Herrera, school, suicide

I image_8551392.jpgwanted to write today about the cats howling all the way up to Ogunquit, where the boys and I are spending April break. Or about how beautiful the ocean is, how it brings me to a place of calm. Or about a horrible meal we had at a restaurant I've recommended a bunch of times- that I no longer recommend.

But I can't. Another boy killed himself. Bullying again.

My heart is broken.

Jaheem Herrera was eleven. He hung himself in his closet. His mother complained repeatedly to the school that he was being bullied. Nothing happened. I read about this on Pam's House Blend and I have to wonder- what will it take?

Jaheem was harassed physically and verbally. They called him gay. He spoke with an accent.

A number of parents also complained about their children being bullied, too.

Nothing happened.

Nothing happened again.

There is something deeply wrong. We must demand change. We must enable teachers to do the right thing. We must teach our children tolerance. All the crazy talk about storms and the horrible fear that maybe LGBT people might be treated as equals has to stop. We need to all come together to help these kids. Whatever our religious beliefs our, it has to stop.

Kids too young to identify as any sexuality are being brought to levels of pain that leave them feeling they have no choice.

Another little boy is dead.

We need change now.


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This is so sad. This hurts my soul when I read these kinds of things.

I feel so bad for this family, I have a 12 year old and I understand the pain. My 12 year old doesn't identify as anything, but they all still tease him and say he must be gay b/c he hasn't had a girlfriend yet. When I mention this at school, all I get is that he acts odd and they can't control all the children all the time. I just want it all to end.

Joseph Kowalski | April 21, 2009 6:06 PM

Every teacher in every school in the United States should be required to attend yearly instruction on how to recognize and correct situations where their students are bullied and harassed by other students.

In my opinion, any school which allows this to go on after being informed by a bullied student or the parents is committing a criminal act.

where is obama??

that's all i can think.

where is he?

I've thought the same thing, Sara. Why isn't anyone with a bully pulpit speaking up other than us pesky queers again?

This was in Georgia, so you can imagine how heartbroken we are. I'm a board member of a new interfaith organization called Faith and Community Alliance. We are planning a gathering/protest in front of the Dekalb school board building on Tuesday. I will miss it because I'll be in DC to lobby Congress. The local PFLAG is involved with this, as well as Georgia Equality.

One of the things I brought up was that children are targeted for their gender expression, which equates to someone supposedly being gay, as per the bullies. An eleven year old may not have established a sexual orientation quite yet, but how they express themselves usually is what the bullies decide to key on. I'll try to keep people informed as much as I can under the circumstances.

We can stop bullying, but we must demand that school leaders, from federal to local, take this seriously. Please read op-ed that ran in the Boston Globe on Saturday April 18.

In-school bullying and what to do about it: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/04/18/breaking_the_silence_around_bullying/

tobyhannabill | April 22, 2009 6:00 PM

I am so confused. I am in the process of becoming a social worker. I know that I am by law a mandated reporter of even the suspicion of child abuse.
Doesn't everyone in a school, short of the maintenance crew, fall into this category? Where are they when this is taking place?

I think, toby, we need to better train our teachers to see these signs in such young kids.

we need to demand it.

tobyhannabill | April 22, 2009 6:18 PM

I find it bizarre that in a society that holds parents accountable when they spank their children (I think this is a good thing) that we send these same protected children into an environment that destroys their self esteem to the point where they take their own lives.
When Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover committed suicide on April 6th I wrote a paper for my psychology class.
This is a horrible tragedy! I need to do more.

May 13th the Michigan Democratic Party is having a Lobby Day for the Anti-Bullying Bill with enumeration, aka written in the sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, and other minorities.

Join us if you can with contacting legislators, and coming to Lansing, or endorsing SB159.

Adam Taylor
Vice Chair of LBGTA Caucus
Michigan Democratic Party
adamtaylorus@yahoo.com
810.479.6897

people belive that children kill themselves because they want to. we need to lisent to this children and make sure they feel like other are going to be there. i have been bullied sense i was a little girl and now i am 17 years old and i am still bullied. the fact that they don't understand anything and they haven't learned to let go. when i read stories about kids that suicide i think about my problems and i want to help kids to keep going. it is very sad that people are ignorant because they want to show off at their friends. they are something in front of their friend, but behind them they are something else. before i do anything i always think of my mother and she always give me the encoragement to keep going. i speak spanish i am from Puerto Rico and i am proud of everything i have accomplished in live R.I.P Jaheem Herrera.