One of my good college friends sent me an article out of New York. A young 11-year-old boy named Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover hung himself after dealing with daily bullying at school. Below is a picture of Carl.
The thing so shocking to me is, to look at his picture, there is no indication that he could be bullied, right? He’s a football player and looks like he could take care of himself. Well, that was wrong! The article from the GLSEN site goes on to say:
Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hung himself Monday after enduring bullying at school, including daily taunts of being gay, despite his mother’s weekly pleas to the school to address the problem. This is at least the fourth suicide of a middle-school aged child linked to bullying this year.
“Our hearts go out to Carl’s mother, Sirdeaner L. Walker, and other members of Carl’s family, as well as to the community suffering from this loss,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “As we mourn yet another tragedy involving bullying at school, we must heed Ms. Walker’s urgent call for real, systemic, effective responses to the endemic problem of bullying and harassment. Especially in this time of societal crisis, adults in schools must be alert to the heightened pressure children face, and take action to create safe learning environments for the students in their care. In order to do that effectively, as this case so tragically illustrates, schools must deal head-on with anti-gay language and behavior.”
Yes, schools must deal with this and more. My son is 11-years-old and I really can’t imagine what could lead him to even consider suicide. But, that said, he has a friend right now who is dealing with bullying and, in talking with the mom of the friend, they are dealing with similar emotional issues. So much goes unreported in bullying that looking fot the signs of it must become a full-time job of educators and parents.
His mother spoke out in a local news report in the hopes to prevent this from happening again:
Another interesting development is that the friend who sent this to me also admitted to me for the first time that bullying had a profound effect on him and the choices he made and still makes in his life and now in his son’s education and environment. I’ve known him for 18 years and didn’t even know he has had to deal with the effects until just now. He is someone I respect very much and always see as a confident and strong leader. I will be talking with him more over the next few months and hopefully he will write on this blog. I’m sure he has lots to say about this issue as well and I look forward to his input. I am interested in yours as well. Please add comments and your stories to this blog. I believe it can help others who are dealing with these issues.