The Springfield mother of an 11-year-old who killed himself after being relentlessly bullied at school led an emotionally-charged push at the State House yesterday for legislation that would require stronger response to schoolyard threats.
Sirdeaner Walker said her son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, was harassed about how he dressed, called “gay” and told he acted like a girl by other students, which ultimately caused the boy to take his own life in April. Walker said she’s out to change the “kids will be kids” mentality, adding that the Web and texting provide even more avenues for bullying.
“I get upset when I hear, ‘This is the way it is. This is the way it’s always been,’” Walker said. “This is not the way it should be.”
The issue is gaining greater traction on Beacon Hill. Lawmakers heard testimony on a host of bills, including one from Rep. John Rogers that would force school districts to report bullying instances and any corresponding punishment. Legislation under consideration also targets cyber-bullying. Robert Trestan, with the Anti-Defamation League New England, said parents and other advocates want schools and legislators to make this issue a priority.
“Regrettably, there have been a number of tragedies and students who have been severely bullied, and their parents and others are fed up,” Trestan said.