Kathryn DeHoyos questions what the responsibility of school administration is when students don’t report being bullied.
Why is it that time and time again we hear heart wrenching stories of teenagers, whether gay or straight, being harassed by their peers and never speaking out? Harassed right under the noses of teachers, coaches, school administration and parents, all adults whose responsibility it is to monitor situations such as these and protect the children and young adults placed in their care.
Josh Pacheco of Fenton, Michigan, was just 17 years old when he committed suicide on November 27. He was a gay teenager who had been subjected to harsh bullying both in and outside of school. The Gay Voice section at the Huffington Post reports that he had come out to his mother, Lynnette Capehart, just two months before his death. She said:
My son was very funny and exceptionally sensitive and loving to other people’s feelings, He was having problems with bullying. He didn’t really want to tell us very much…it was very disheartening to me.
Sadly, Josh Pacheco is not the first teen to be bullied so harshly that he saw ending his life as the only avenue of escape. There are stories almost every week of teenagers and young adults attempting, and in instances such as this, successfully committing suicide because of bullying and the lack of action by people in positions of authority to stop it. The superintendent of Josh’s High School, Ed Koledo, is quoted as saying:
No bullying had ever been reported to faculty members. We weren’t aware of any specifics. There’s been a lot of stories that have turned up over the weekend that we are looking into.
Although there was never a formal report made about Josh being bullied, it was quite obviously severe enough that he felt taking his own life was the only option. This is sadly another instance where it could be argued that the authorities did not take the initiative to protect a young man who, because of their lack of action, lost his life.
If the bullying Josh faced was enough to drive him to commit suicide how is it that no one noticed?
What are our expectations, as parents and society as a whole when it comes to school involvement and intervention in cases of bullying?
Should schools be required to investigate suspected instances of bullying before a formal complaint is made?
Picture: Purple Penning/Flickr