Nine-year-old boy killed himself after being bullied for being gay, his mother claims
Nine-year-old Jamel Myles killed himself because he was being bullied at school for being gay, his mother has claimed.
Colorado-based Leia Pierce recently told Fox 31 Denver that she found Jamel dead in their home on Thursday (August 23), just four days after he started Joe Shoemaker Elementary School’s fourth grade.
She remembered how Jamel came out to her during the summer break, and how frightened he looked when he told her.
“I thought he was playing,” she admitted to the publication. “So I looked back because I was driving and he was all curled up, so scared. And I said, ‘I still love you.'”
Pierce also revealed that her son told her that he wanted to start dressing less masculinely. “He goes, ‘Can I be honest with you?’,” she remembered. “And I was like ‘Sure’, and he’s like, ‘I know you buy me boy stuff because I’m a boy, but I’d rather dress like a girl.'”
She went on to detail how her son was eager to tell his new schoolmates because he felt proud of who he was but his openness seemed to have tragic consequences, she believes.
“Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” recalled Pierce. “My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself. I’m just sad he didn’t come to me.”
Denver police are investigating the death as a suicide. In response to the incident, Denver Public Schools sent out a letter to families of its students confirming the introduction of extra social workers and a crisis team.
Pierce now wants to spread awareness about the harm bullying can do to the individuals subjected to it.
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“We should have accountability for bullying. I think the child should. Because the child knows it’s wrong. The child wouldn’t want someone to do it to them. I think the parent should be held because obviously the parents are either teaching them to be like that, or they’re treating them like that,” she urged.
All 50 states in the US have their own anti-bullying laws. However, it has been widely reported that these laws are notoriously difficult to implement at ground level and it’s near impossible to ensure that all districts follow through on their policies.
In 2016, the National Center for Educational Statistics documented that one out of every five students report being bullied, which was down by just 8% since the organisation began collecting data in 2005.
Of the students that were bullied, it has been revealed that 13% were victims of verbal abuse, 12% were the basis of rumours, 5% felt like they were being excluded on a regular basis and 5% were physically tormented.
The data also showed that bullying someone’s physical appearance, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion and sexual orientation occurred most frequently.
UK-based readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255