‘Happy kid’ kills himself over bullying at two NYC schools
NEW YORK CITY — A 12-year-old boy harassed by school bullies about his intelligence, his height and his deceased father killed himself in the New York City apartment he shared with his mother, according to relatives and those who knew him, NBCNewYork.com reported.
“I want to remember him as a happy kid,” his anguished sister told NBC 4 New York on Thursday.
Joel Morales, of East Harlem, moved to a different school after enduring incessant taunting for months, but the bullying persisted, the fifth-grader’s family said.
Kids chased Morales, threw sticks and pipes at him and teased him for his smarts and his 4-foot-9 stature, his family said.
Morales’ anguish reached a breaking point when bullies taunted him about his father, who died when he was four years old, according to relatives.
His mother, Lisbeth Babilonia, found him hanging in their apartment at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, hours after she had organized a search party when he didn’t return home on time from an after-school club.
An occupational therapist who worked with Morales at one of the schools because of his diminutive size told NBC 4 New York the boy only reluctantly talked about his problems.
“It was very difficult, especially with a child like Joel who wants so badly to please everyone, to see that he was really in pain, that he was struggling,” said Maria Ubiles.
Arlene Gago, a youth minister from a church group, said she spoke with Morales regularly at the Jefferson Houses where he lived but never knew of his distress.
“I always asked him, ‘How you doing? How’s school?'” she said. “We talked but he’d never tell me what was going on.”
A classmate told Morales’ family that the boy had said he was tired of the bullying and told them the details of the remark about his father that sent him over the edge.
School officials declined to comment on the alleged bullying, citing privacy issues.
Police said Morales left no suicide note.
This is appalling! Suicide due to being bullied is really and truly an epidemic, and now the kids who feel there is no other option are getting younger and younger. Not only does the bullying need to stop, but parents need to communicate more with their children. Show them how drastic bullying can be to the victim to help their kids better understand to what extreme it could go; and also make a plan for them in the case that they themselves are be bullied. If they know who to talk to and what to say, they will more likely have the courage to ask for help before giving up entirely.
Please, parents, teachers, neighbors, coaches…TALK to the kids in your life. They need to hear it from the trusted adults that they see everyday. They may even seem not to be listening or not to care, but when the time comes when it is important, they will remember. Sometimes the ONLY reason kids do what we prepare them to do is because they trust and respect the adults that take the time to care and will do the right thing for that very reason!
Please, do not fool yourself by believing that it could not be your kid who is the bully or that when your child seems fine that he or she must be doing okay. Ask them, share with them, and create a link between you and your children that is consistent, so when trouble arises, it will be the natural thing to do to discuss it with you. We talk to our kids about smoking, drinking, drugs, and the dangers of unsafe and irresponsible sex, and because bullying is more and more is ending in suicide, we need to prepare them for that too. No, we cannot protect them from everything and everyone, but we can create a dialogue that will help them make the right choices in how they treat others and how to ask for help by insuring them that they will be respected and kept safe. Come up with a plan, such as a code word, that the child can blurt out to alert you that they have something to say and that it is difficult to find the words. Then you can help them along by asking gentle, simple, yes or no questions and giving them your full and uninterrupted attention. Once the “secret” is out and they realize that you are on their side, the remaining details will come.
What you must understand is that for most, the bullying is not only very intimidating and frightening, but can be brutal (even when it is just words) and very traumatizing. Even when the individual weathers the storm and does not chose to end their life, the effects of bullying can last throughout their life and can affect them in so many ways that not all have been fully identified. Pay attention to things your child says. They may try to talk to you, and it may be the only chance you get. Do NOT blow them off or minimize their experience or emotions. Because if you do, it may be the last interaction you, or anyone else, will have with your child.
- ‘Happy kid’ kills himself over bullying at two NYC schools (usnews.msnbc.msn.com)
- Joel Morales, NYC Fifth-Grader, Commits Suicide over Bullying (VIDEO) (blippitt.com)