Nine-year-old Jamel Myles took his own life this past Thursday after being bullied at school. His mother believes that he was bullied for being gay.
Leia Piece told Fox 21 Denver that she found her son dead at their home, only four days after he started Joe Shoemaker Elementary School, he was a fourth grader.
While on summer break, Jamel came out to his mother while driving. “I thought he was playing. “So I looked back because I was driving and he was all curled up, so scared. And I said, ‘I still love you,’” she stated.
Pierce said her son wanted to dress less masculine. ”Can I be honest with you?’,” she remembered. “And I was like ‘Sure’, and he’s like, ‘I know you buy me boy stuff because I’m a boy, but I’d rather dress like a girl.'”
She also explained that her son was eager to tell his new classmates because he was proud of who he was, however, it appears that his openness had some tragic consequences.
“Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” recalled Pierce. “My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself. I’m just sad he didn’t come to me.”
The Denver Police are currently investigating the death as a suicide, and the Denver Public School district sent out a letter informing parents of extra social workers and crisis teams at all schools.
Pierce wants to spread awareness about bullying and the harm it can do to individuals. “We should have accountability for bullying. I think the child should. Because the child knows it’s wrong. The child wouldn’t want someone to do it to them. I think the parent should be held because obviously the parents are either teaching them to be like that, or they’re treating them like that,” she urged.
Currently, there are 50 states that have some sort of anti-bullying laws. But it has been reported that most of the laws are notoriously difficult to implement at ground level and just as impossible to ensure that all school districts follow through or adhere to the policies.
The National Center for Educational Statistics in 2016 reported that one out of every five students report being bullied, down by 8% since the organization began collecting data in 2005.
Of the students bullied, data reveals that 13% were victims of verbal abuse, 12% were the basis of rumors, 5% felt excluded on a regular basis and 5% endured physical abuse.
The data shows that the most frequent forms of bullying are based on ethnicity, disability, appearance, sexual orientation, gender, and religion.