If you think kids calling other kids gay and taunting them for their sexual orientation is child’s play, think again. A child in Atlanta, 11 year-old Jaheem Herrera, took his own life last week after being tormented by schoolmates who called him gay.
Masika Bermudez said her son was being consistently bullied at school. She said she had complained to the school, and she said it was her 10-year-old daughter who alerted her to the stress Jaheem was under.
Channel 2 Action News reporter Pam Martin went to speak to Jaheem’s mother Monday.
“She said, ‘Ma, did you know they called Jaheem gay again today in school,’” said Bermudez.
Bermudez said bullies at school had called Jaheem “gay” and had taunted him about his accent. She said when he came home Thursday and she asked him about it, he denied it. She sent him to his room to calm down. That was the last time she saw him alive.
Little Jaheem hung himself with a belt after school on April 16th.
This tragic story is the second incident in two weeks of children committing suicide as a result of bullying. A 6th-grader in Massachusetts, 11 year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, took his own life last week because he just couldn’t take the bullying anymore:
Many parents think that bullying is just a part of growing up, but I think it’s important for them to have conversations with their kids even before this starts happening. These incidents were a result of severe homophobic bullying, but parents might find it easier to talk to their kids about this type of thing by showing them these videos, produced by GLSEN, which talk about the use of the word by young people to qualify something as “bad”. It may seem like mere semantics, but kids equating being gay with something negative can have more serious consequences, as we’ve seen in these cases.
Talking to your kids — or little brothers or sisters — about bullying might just save a life. For more information about how to stop anti-gay bullying, visit Day of Silence.