Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover is Dead

Bullies remain a ubiquitous part of modern civilized society despite the best efforts of the more thoughtful and intelligent caretakers, educators, philosophers, role models, and leaders. And now we have yet another poignant example of the negative effects of bullying behavior, as eleven year old Carl Walker-Hoover hangs himself to death.

Carl …

… hung himself Monday after enduring bullying at school, including daily taunts of being gay, despite his mother’s weekly pleas to the school to address the problem. This is at least the fourth suicide of a middle-school aged child linked to bullying this year.

Carl, a junior at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield who did not identify as gay, would have turned 12 on April 17, the same day hundreds of thousands of students will participate in the 13th annual National Day of Silence by taking some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying and harassment at school. The other three known cases of suicide among middle-school students
took place in Chatham, Evanston and Chicago, Ill., in the month of February.

More details here.

Learn to identify bullying, in all contexts, and then learn to turn away from the perpetrators.

Comments

  1. #1 peter
    April 12, 2009

    And what has the school done to address the bullies?
    The easy answer is the kid should learn to deal with bullies – oh yes, he did by avoiding the problem permanently.

    But what about the so called “responsible” adults who should know how to deal with the situation, even to the point of just expelling the bully from school property?
    Weekly pleas by the mother by nobody of authority apparently gave a rats ass.

    Having worked in the school system (we took care of those nobody else would, and yes, we were part of the regular schoolsystem)I know that for most principals the principle is: don’t rock the boat, maintain face even if its only a facade, keep things quiet.
    That attitude doesn’t help those who are suffering abuse by their school mates. If you want peace – you’ve got to address the problem and not sweep it under the desk.

  2. #2 Dan J
    April 12, 2009

    Bullying takes many forms, and bullies do the bullying for different reasons. How much of this type of activity is due in large part to intolerance learned by the bullies at the feet of their parents?

  3. #3 Anon
    April 12, 2009

    How much of this type of activity is due in large part to intolerance learned by the bullies at the feet of their parents?

    Five years ago I would have said that this is probably the main explanation. But since then I got to watch a youngster grow up at the feet of parents who are absolutely not bully-like or intolerant, but to grow up as a full blown bully. Not an anti-gay or anti-anybody in particular bully, but a bully nonetheless. I don’t know where the bulliness came from, but it was not transmitted mimetically from mom and dad in any direct way.

  4. #4 llewelly
    April 12, 2009

    We live in a culture that loves bullies, because bullies are winners, and those who are bullied are losers.

  5. #5 Stacy
    April 12, 2009

    I think bullies probably feel inadequate most of the time and are trying to prove (in public) that they are better than someone else.

    How many kids “bully” without an audience?

    ex: I don’t think the star quarterback would likely bully anyone … it’s the kid sitting on the bench – good enough to make the team but not good enough to play.

  6. #6 Bob
    April 13, 2009

    Having endured more than my share of K-12 bullshit from students and faculty alike, I’d like to see the following play out:

    - A sequence of notes to the appropriate administrators, adding one management level each consecutive time they sit on their hands, culminating with the story hitting the local alderman, mayor’s office, and media outlets.

    - Polite chats with the tormentor(s) parent(s) resulting either in an agreement to control their kid or an advisory that you’ll control their kid if they won’t.

    - Removal of the child from the situation followed by martial arts training. Aikido is defensive and effective, though any martial art is good exercise, builds self-confidence, encourages awareness and defensive thinking, and (lastly) may well give the kid the ability to beat the shit out of a larger opponent.

    - and should one put justice above the rule of law, find the ringleader of the little brats and put the fucking fear of god into him, preferably by lifting him up by the collar of the shirt and making it explicitly clear that if the abuse continues you will beat the living shit out of him. Should you bitchslap him, do not do so in a way that leaves physical evidence.

    I don’t particularly like corporal punishment nor advocating violence against children, but I also have a long memory and a grudge. The key, I think, is using diplomacy, exhausting your peaceful options before resorting to violence, and even then, using the minimal violence necessary to resolve the problem. Importantly though, if the problem cannot be resolved by peaceful means, I see no ethical problem in resorting to measured, appropriate, and effective violence.

    One should not give up or fob off responsibility on some spineless do-nothing administrator. Either keep the kid at home, pick up his assignments and turn them back in (homeschool if possible), and let the administrators come to you, or take an active role in stopping the abuse.

    Certainly use the proper channels first, but if they don’t work, tell your kid to wait until the bully’s back is turned, to grab him by the hair, and to slam his head into a locker. Or knee him in the nuts (kicking him while he’s down is optional.) Or just push the bully down some stairs (this worked for a friend of mine.) The only rules are no weapons, no permanent damage, and end the fight as quickly as possible (no witnesses.) There absolutely must be a pledge of support to the child to back him if he gets called out for fighting.

    If I had the choice between burying my child or sitting in front of an impotent wrathful school administrator or district attorney, I know which one I’d take. I wish my parents would’ve ever stood up for me so I have close to zero sympathy or tolerance for the hand-wringing administrators, the bullies, or their families.

  7. #7 José
    April 13, 2009

    I was bullied unmercifully for years as a child, and there are a few things that really bother me about how bullying is covered.

    The first is that people in charge are only guilty of ignoring the problem. In my experience, there are teachers and school administrators who not only ignore the problem, but often condone, enjoy, or even partake in the bullying.

    The second is the myth that the best way to deal with a bully is to stand up to them. It works in the movies, but not so well in real life. At least not for me and other victims I observed. I always stood up for myself, but bullies tend to travel in groups, and they were bigger than I was. A pre-pubescent kid is just no match for a post-pubescent kid, let alone multiple post-pubescent kid.

    There’s also shame involved in being bullied. I know my parents would have stood up for me more if they realized how bad it was, but I didn’t want them or anyone else to know. I couldn’t even ask for help.

    I never came close to suicide, but I think that’s only because the thought of how doing so would hurt my loved ones was too much to bear. In my case the only relief I got was through pretending to be to ill to go to school. When I actually developed some severe and painful health problems, they were a welcome relief.

  8. #8 José
    April 13, 2009

    @llewelly
    We live in a culture that loves bullies, because bullies are winners, and those who are bullied are losers.
    Not only does our culture love bullies, but we love cheaters and liars. When I started to get involved in organized athletics, I was honestly shocked to find out how much cheating is actually taught. Now that I’m in the business world, I’ve learned that lying is fine, but pointing out that someone is lying is a huge no-no.

    @Stacy
    I think bullies probably feel inadequate most of the time and are trying to prove (in public) that they are better than someone else.

    I think people bully because it’s fun for them. There are plenty of star athletes that bully. This argument always sounds like the “rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power” argument that’s never rung true for me.

  9. #9 Chris Gatiss
    April 13, 2009

    When I herd about this story, my heart sank. I feel so sorry for what his family has to endure and I also feel very sorry about the relentless torture this kid had to face day to day. I know almost exactly how he felt and I myself many times tried to commit suicide because of peoples intolerance towards me. I never understood why kids and adults found my sexuality so threating that they had to act out about it either verbally or sometimes physcially. I just wish someone could of saved this child from his hardships. At least now he is in a better palce hopefully. On April 17th, I’m going to be silent to remember how precious this child was to the world. RIP Carl.

  10. #10 Notagod
    April 13, 2009

    I believe llewelly’s statement “We live in a culture that loves bullies, because bullies are winners, and those who are bullied are losers”, is incorrect, it has the cause and effect switched around. It should be, bullies are winners because the culture accepts bullies, the bullied are losers because the culture is afraid of bullies. We change our culture all the time, sometimes easily and sometimes with great difficulty. Bullies are a problem and our culture needs to change and recognize that problem.

    Since “fear of god” was brought up in an earlier comment and since one of the christian uses for their god idea is as a bully, I will add that it is an example of the fallacy of believing that a christian god idea has any value for a respectable culture. Christianity claims to have the answer but, what they really have is a mob rules culture. Notice that when a respected christian is caught doing something that is wrong, they are still treated with respect by the christians, which is opposite of the way christians treat outsiders. Christianity is touted as a moral compass, even grudgingly by some atheists, however, in reality christianity happens to be a large part of the problem. We need to make changes in our ideology. We need to use our brains, our intellect, and honesty as our moral compass. We can’t fix our cultural problems by hanging onto a guidebook that was written to serve the rulers and people two thousand year ago.

    I’ve been on both sides of the bully problem, having been bullied and having bullied. Physical bullying is very wrong and metal bullying can range from sort of ok to very wrong, and is never an optimal solution.

  11. #11 Paul Murray
    April 13, 2009

    How much of this type of activity is due in large part to intolerance learned by the bullies at the feet of their parents?

    Bullies bully because it feels good. That’s all there is to it.

    School and prison are the only places where a person may be regularly assaulted every day and receive no protection whatsoever from the law – in fact, you’ll get into serious trouble if you try to escape either.

    Small wonder the kids resort to defending themselves with firearms.

  12. #12 Monise
    April 14, 2009

    This is a horrible way to start the day…but imagine how his mother must feel. My heart goes out to the family and the students at the school, for their lives will also be changed forever.

    Although I am saddended by this event, I am more pissed off than anything. I, too, have a child who was bullied in school, including IN FRONT of teachers. It got the point where there was an incident everyday and I said, ‘That’s it…I am done.’ After conferences and emails, nothing changed. At one point I even asked the Assistant Principal about the consequence of me telling my son to carry some sort of protection (not a gun) because it was obvious that the school was not going to address the problem. Talk about catching someone off guard1 He wasn’t expecting that. I also told him that I know what goes on in schools because I am a former educator and that bullying, if not caught and addressed, could lead to much worse, e.g., Columbine and other school shootings. But as you may have guessed, nothing changed at the school. I eventually withdrew my son and began home schooling him….he will be in the 9th grade this upcoming year and I do not knwo what to do. The high school he is supposed to attend already has 3,000 students, gang activity, fighting, and kids having sex in hallways…

    I hope that the mother is somehoe able to get justice for her son, since she spoke with the school on a wekkly basis about the bullying. Schools now have policies in place to address this issue; some even go so far as to consider bullying terroristic behavior. Even if no child is punished or prosecuted, I hope the school, administrators, teachers, and district are found liable. After all, students have a right to safety when they go to school. This has got to stop now.

  13. #13 Eclectic01
    April 15, 2009

    I also wrote about this senseless tragedy. I would love to get your feedback.

    http://matrixfreeblackness.com/?p=148

  14. #14 Ben Leichtling
    April 15, 2009

    This really isn’t about anti-gay bullying and abuse. It’s about stopping all bullying and abuse. The bullies used whatever came to hand or mouth – their hatred of gays. The principals and school district administrators didn’t protect either boy, just like they don’t protect most targets of bullying and abuse. That’s why we need laws to force principals to act and to protect them from countersuits by bullying parents of little terrorists.

    Also notice that none of the teachers or the other kids stood up to the bullies. Shame.

    We also can’t and shouldn’t count on schools to protect our children from hurt feelings all the time. We must help our children develop the inner grit and resilience to know how to protect themselves from verbal harassment as well as from physical abuse.

    Disclosure: This really isn’t about anti-gay bullying and abuse. It’s about stopping all bullying and abuse. The bullies used whatever came to hand or mouth – their hatred of gays. The principals and school district administrators didn’t protect either boy, just like they don’t protect most targets of bullying and abuse. That’s why we need laws to force principals to act and to protect them from countersuits by bullying parents of little terrorists.

    Also notice that none of the teachers or the other kids stood up to the bullies. Shame.

    We also can’t and shouldn’t count on schools to protect our children from hurt feelings all the time. We must help our children develop the inner grit and resilience to know how to protect themselves from verbal harassment as well as from physical abuse.

    Disclosure: In addition to having six children, I’m a practical, pragmatic coach and consultant. I’ve written books of case studies, “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks.” Check out my website and blog at BulliesBeGone (http://BulliesBeGone.com).

  15. #15 White34Esther
    March 28, 2012

    This is great that we can receive the loan and it opens new opportunities.