Has It Really Come To This? Bullies Drive 12-Year-Old Harlem Boy To Hang Himself

May 31, 2012  |  

As Dharun Ravi publicly suffers from the impact of webcam bullying his former college roommate, having stood trial and sentenced to jail in an unprecedented case, kids all over the nation continue to experience the crippling effects of bullying. And it seems that the victims keep getting younger and younger. The latest high profile case of bullying has taken place in Harlem and it’s apparent that if this incident doesn’t promote the nation’s dialogue around how to handle peer harassment in schools, then nothing will.

On Tuesday night, the mother of Joel Morales found her 12-year-old son hanging from a shower rod in their Harlem apartment. He was said to have told a friend hours earlier that he was “tired of all this bullying.”

According to the New York Daily News:

Relatives said the tragedy unfolded after the fifth-grader had been teased for months by schoolyard bullies, prompting Babilonia to get him transferred from Public School 102 to Public School 57. Police said Joel did not leave a suicide note. “I know in my heart it was bullying that made him do it,” Joel’s sister, Richeliss Salazar, 23, told the Daily News.

Angelica Babilonia said even after Joel transferred to his new school, bullies at his old school continued to torment him in the neighborhood. “He said that a bunch of kids from his old school jumped him and chased him,” the aunt said. “He would ignore them, but there were too many to fight back.” Angelica Babilonia said that around December or January her nephew switched to PS 57 after four boys knocked on Joel’s door and threw sticks and a pipe at him when he opened it.

The attack prompted a police report and an intervention by the principal at PS 102, who met with Joel, Babilonia, the boys involved and their parents or guardians to try to stop the bullying, the relatives said. Joel was transferred shortly after the meeting and Babilonia took out an order of protection against the ringleader of the fifth graders picking on her son, relatives said. They said Babilonia even asked New York Housing Authority officials to move her and her son to another housing project, but her request was denied.

The final straw, however, came after a bully teased Morales about his dead father, according to relatives.

Incidents like these demonstrate just how critical it is for the nation to adopt strong policies against school bullying. Although parents and school officials were involved in resolving this matter, it’s apparent that the punishment for bullying is too weak to deter the rate of bullying across the nation.

Have you been involved in a case of school bullying? Were your schools’ or your child’s schools’ effective at resolving the matter?

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