Teen's suicide has lasting impact on school

September 29, 2011 2:04:02 PM PDT
It is a case of bullying that will break your heart.

Jamey Rodemeyer, a high school freshman in New York, killed himself more than a week ago after relentless teasing at school over his sexuality. One fellow student says the death is having an impact.

Erik Ferguson has seen and heard bullying in the hallways on almost a daily basis at Williamsville North High School. "You get name-calling and last year, there was a major problem with the freshman, they are very aggressive towards each other, and my English teacher actually stepped in and we spent three of ours classes talking about solutions," he said.

But ever since Jamey Rodemeyer, a freshman at North, took his own life, Ferguson says fewer students are talking trash, and more are talking about solutions.

"Since Jamey's death, there's been a major change," said Ferguson. People are beginning to see that bullying is a severe epidemic. And now, when you talk to people about bullying, they say that they're trying to watch what they're saying to others."

Some parents are concerned about how Williamsville is combating bullying, despite reassurances in recent letters from the district. For them, being told that there will be disciplinary consequences for those who bully, as well as support for children who are victims of bullying, is not good enough. They want to hear the specifics.

"As a parent of kids in the district, and in the school, not just the district, we'd like to know what's happening, and even just an assurance that's, 'Yes, we know who these kids are,'" said parent, Dan Gestwick.

Even if administrators can't share specifics, Ferguson can.

"There were two announcements on our P.A. saying that bullying is not tolerated; if you see bullying, you have to report it. And everybody, when those announcements were on, they were silent. They listened. It's just -- that's North. We're respectful to each other," he said.