Boy, 8, said he wanted to die after bullying

March 29, 2010 10:36:34 AM PDT
There are disturbing allegations of bullying at an elementary school on Houston's south side. A second-grader says other students picked on him so much that he wanted to die. His mother says the school didn't do enough to protect him. Both the boy and his mother say the teacher knew about the bullying, but didn't do anything to stop it.

The 8-year-old second-grader says he was tired of the bullying. One final incident in which another child pulled down his pants and embarrassed him pushed the boy to jump from the second floor of Blackshear Elementary on Wednesday.

"They were bullying me for no reason," said the boy. "He was fighting me in the restroom and was trying to fight me in class and pulled down my pants for no reason."

His mother says immediately following the attempted suicide, the school asked the child, who is dyslexic, to sign a 'no suicide' agreement.

"The teachers are supposed to help," said Yamshannta Robertson, the child's mother. "They're supposed to be there for them. If they know that he's going through this, you shouldn't let another child belittle him."

The district contends the agreement is standard in the district among children who may try to harm themselves, but is revisiting the policy.

"We find it to be a very useful tool. Now, whether this particular contract or agreement was written at an age appropriate level, that's probably a good question and something we'll need to look at," said HISD Spokesperson Norm Uhl.

But of even greater concern to the mother is that she and her son reported the bullying multiple times as far back as September, and nothing was ever done about it.

"This needs to be resolved because when we send our kids from home to school we expect them to be safe. And I don't want this to happen to anybody else's child ever," said Robertson.

"I know the parent has some concerns about how reporting of bullying was handled and the principal is doing an investigation on that," said Uhl. "I can't really comment on that, but in this kind of situation, if bullying is reported and isn't dealt with, there could be some consequences for the employee."

The district says there was a district-wide assembly at Blackshear on Thursday to talk to the students about bullying. They also say letters were to go home to parents about what happened.

As for what will happen to the kids who are accused of bullying, the district won't comment about what exactly they'll do, but they did say they could face disciplinary actions, as could the person who doesn't report it.

"If procedure is not followed that needs to be investigated and if it's true, there needs to be discipline," said Uhl.

Robertson has pulled her son now from Blackshear Elementary, and she's not the only one at the school who claims their children are bullied and little is done to stop it .

"We're thinking about moving our daughters out," said parent Jame Jackson.

Psychologists like Dr. Megan Mooney at the Depelchin Children's Center help children and their families cope with bullying. She says it's important for the child to know it's OK to ask for help, and for the parent to know what to look for.

"If you start seeing a kid who is generally fairly happy and upbeat start to become moody, withdrawn or irritable, or if they're having changes in their grades or not wanting to go to school, then that's when it's become too much and it's time to seek out help," said Dr. Mooney.

The boy's mother still has many outstanding questions - like why EMS or paramedics were never called after the boy's leap from the second floor balcony. HISD says a school nurse looked him over and he appeared OK.

The mother also wants to know why the 8-year-old was asked to sign the form saying he wouldn't harm himself again, and why he was asked to do that before she ever even got to the school. HISD says that's policy, a way to get a child to commit to not hurting himself or at least calling someone before doing so.

At least 15 states including Texas have anti-bullying laws. They mostly require public schools to have an anti-bullying program in place. In Texas, the anti-bullying law went into effect in 2005.


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