The same day that news was circulating about the second suicide of a participant on a Gordon Ramsay show, (the chef known for his bullying treatment of participants) one more story of a teen suicide was reported as well. 13 year-old Asher Brown shot himself to death and his body was discovered by his step-father. His parents say he was bullied to death.
The Houston Chronicle reports Asher's mother claims she made many phone calls and sent emails to school officials about her son, but her requests for help went unanswered. According to Amy Truong, she made visits to the school to request that something be done about the constant taunting, teasing and physical harassment of her son. She says her phone calls were not returned.
The school officials say they did not receive complaints by Amy, or her husband David Truong, that Asher was being bullied. School district spokeswoman Kelli Durham, who is married to a Hamilton School (the school Asher attended) assistant principal, said no students, school employees or the boy's parents ever reported that he was being bullied.
This statement from the school district has infuriated the Truongs. "That's absolutely inaccurate -- it's completely false," Amy Truong told the Chronicle. "I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. ... It's like they're calling us liars."
As has been extensively covered on FindLaw, there are many new state laws that specifically address bullying. Bullying is usually defined as verbal, physical, or mental acts committed by a student; to harass, intimidate, or cause harm to another student. Some of these laws have requirements that action be taken by officials when bullying is reported. In Texas, the Education Code, Section 37.001, specifically requires the adoption of a school district code of conduct which prohibits "bullying, harassment and making hit lists." Provisions for the transfer of bullying victims are also made in this section.
If, like Amy Truong did, a parent must confront school officials or teachers about the problem of bullying, it can be very helpful to keep accurate, written records of all interactions about the subject. Emails are easily confirmed, but records of the date, time and content of phone calls, copies of any paper letters, and statements by witnesses should also be kept. If a situation like the one that is causing additional suffering to the family of Asher Brown arises, good records can help.
A service for Asher Brown will be held on October 2.
- Parents Find Bullied Teen Victim of Suicide (MyFOXHouston)
- State Laws Related to Bullying Among Children and Youth (StopBullyingNow)
- Specific State Laws Against Bullying (FindLaw)
- Legal Issues and Laws Relating to School Safety (FindLaw)
- School Bullying: Student Suicide Leads to Suit (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)