IT’S BULLYING THAT KILLED ME: HOW TO COMBAT BULLYING IN INDIANA SCHOOLS THROUGH EFFECTIVE LEGISLATION

EDMUND ABEL

J.D., 2020, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law; B.S. in Education, 2006, Indiana University – Bloomington.

Kind-hearted, always happy, the sweetest person I ever met—these were phrases used to describe 15-year-old Roman Kellough. Roman, a student at Central High School in Evansville, Indiana, was the friend who looked out for everybody and focused on helping others. He tried to lift people up with humor and could turn any situation into a joke. He had a big group of friends, and he always wanted to help them, but then the bullying started.

Roman was outed as bisexual, and after word got out, students at Central High School began calling him names and mocking him for his sexual orientation. The bullying was not a secret; Roman’s best friend, Anna, knew it was going on but could not stop the daily harassment. While Anna could not see the full toll the bullying exerted on Roman, she saw enough. She knew Roman would rather be at work or at home, anywhere but school. As the bullying continued, Roman withdrew from his friends and later withdrew from Central High School, choosing instead to be homeschooled where the bullies could no longer get to him. Withdrawing from school did not solve the problem though, and Roman was eventually hospitalized at a mental health facility. Roman’s mother thinks he “kind of snapped and flipped out”; he was just tired of dealing with the bullying.

Roman made one last trip back to Central High School on January 3, 2017. This time he showed up with two 9mm handguns, a .38-caliber handgun, and dozens of bullets. Police are unsure whether Roman intended to use the guns on the classmates who bullied him; but what they do know is instead of striking back at his tormenters, Roman turned one gun on himself. He fired a single shot to the head, choosing suicide over dealing with the bullying for one more day. Students at Central High School were returning from winter break when one found Roman’s lifeless body outside a school entrance. School officials chose not to send students home or cancel classes. Despite the suicide, Central High School carried on with the school day; it was business as usual.

Roman’s friends never thought he would commit suicide, but according to them, the bullying eventually got to him. Roman’s mother claimed she alerted the school to the bullying before Roman’s suicide, but Central High School tells a different story. According to school officials, there were no official reports or evidence of Roman being bullied.

Roman’s “bullycide” is not a unique story in this country. Jordan Bythwood, a fifteen-year-old at Southmont High School in Indiana, was bullied at school daily for being biracial. When Bythwood tried to fight back, he was suspended from school and charged with delinquency. Shortly thereafter, Bythwood committed suicide. Billy Lucas, a fifteen-year-old at Greensburg Community High School in Indiana, was bullied mercilessly at school for being gay. He hanged himself in his grandmother’s barn. Kameron Jacobsen, a fourteen-year-old at Monroe-Woodbury High School in New York, was bullied by other students for being too small. The bullying started online as virtual- bullies tormented him with messages, until one day at school those bullies broke his jaw. He took his life in his own bedroom. Megan Meier, a thirteen-year-old at Fort Zumwalt West Middle School in Missouri, was bullied online after falling for a cyber hoax. She hanged herself in her bedroom closet after the demeaning messages were posted online. Amanda Cummings, a fifteen-year-old at New Dorp High School in New York, was targeted for bullying by a group of girls because their leader had a crush on Amanda’s boyfriend. After he dumped Amanda, she jumped in front of a bus. Phoebe Prince, a fifteen-year-old at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts, was ridiculed for being an Irish immigrant and was constantly called a slut. She hanged herself in a closet to escape the constant barrage of name-calling. Jamel Myles, a nine-year-old at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School in Colorado, came out as gay to his mom and classmates. It took only days of bullying at school for Jamel to be driven to suicide.  [Read entire Article here].

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