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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Bullying leads to murder, suicide try

Parents and teachers say the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx is unsafe. Photo: Gregg Vigliotti/New York Times

At a Bronx school where a bullied student killed a classmate, a bullied sixth grader tried to hang himself with his sweater, reports Elizabeth A. Harris in the New York Times.

Classmates yanked his long hair and tried to drag him around by his ponytail. They tripped him in the halls and stole from his backpack. They called him names and told a new girl he was gay, which he denies, so she would not befriend him.

The 12-year-old boy and his grandmother, who is raising him, complained to a dean, social worker, the principal and others at the school, known as Wildlife Conservation, writes Harris. Reporting the abuse made it worse.

“It’s like a code in class,” he said. “If they do something to you, you cannot say anything. If you do say something, you’re the target from now on.”

After the suicide attempt, the boy’s grandmother hired a special education lawyer. The district agreed to pay for the boy to attend a private school.

A month ago, an 18-year-old at Wildlife Conservation stabbed a classmate to death and severely wounded another student. Abel Cedeno, who was arrested for the killing, said he had been bullied.

In the days after (Matthew) McCree’s death, a portrait of the school emerged as a place where students felt increasingly unsafe and parents said administrators failed to address their concerns. Students were left thinking that they had to fend for themselves. One mother said that when she told school officials that students were pulling her daughter’s hair, they suggested she wear her hair in a bun. Another said she took her daughter out of the elementary school in the building after a high school student — Wildlife has a middle and high school — exposed himself to her daughter in the stairwell. Parents requested additional security, and when they were denied, they started patrolling the halls themselves.

The principal has been fired. What can be done when a school is out of control?

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