Torture in American Schools by Jewel Woods
Last weekend, at the Malcolm X Grassroots Unity Brunch one of the topics covered was violence against LGBTQ people of color. I think it was Kenyon Farrow who mentioned the suicides of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover and Jaheem Herrera who are both Black boys who recently committed suicide because of peer bullying and hatred. Jewel Woods, of the Renaissance Male Project, writes a clear indictment of the ways that our schools allow torture and why boys of color are particularly at risk. What can we do to prevent torture in our schools and ensure a safe and whole development for all our children. PLEASE READ THIS ARTICLE
Imagine the terror of a mother frantically trying to cut down her child seconds after finding him hanging from an extension cord in his bedroom. Picture the trauma of a 10-year-old girl desperately trying to hold up her older brother after finding him hanging from a noose in an upstairs closet.
These tragic scenes unfolded in the past several weeks as two beautiful 11-year-old black boys, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Springfield, Massachusetts and Jaheem Herrera of DeKalb, Georgia, chose to end their lives rather than endure another day of being bullied in their schools.
According to reports, the parents of both children had repeatedly warned school officials about the daily torment and torture that their children were subjected to during school. However, neither parents nor educators were able to intervene in time.
While most acts of bullying do not lead to traumatic acts of suicide, bullying happens to young people all the time. Studies indicate that 65% of teens have been verbally or physically harassed or assaulted during the past year. 39% of teens report that students in their school are frequently harassed because of their physical appearance and another 33% report that students in their school are frequently harassed because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation.
But why are our kids killing themselves? Is there something different about bullying today that makes facing the daily onslaught more painful than life itself for some of our youth? Questions like these beckon to adults reeling from the shock of these events, in part because many think that that bullying is just a part of life–something that everyone has to deal with when they are growing up. Many adults are also puzzled by the impact of bullying on children who are targeted as “gay” because they assume that being gay, lesbian, and or bi-sexual is more acceptable today than in the past.