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March 30th, 2010
06:27 AM ET

Second Grader’s No-Suicide Pact

An 8 year-old-boy in Texas tried to commit suicide after his teacher did nothing about the bad bullying he faced every day. The school’s response: have him sign a ‘no suicide’ agreement. Apparently this is standard procedure in this school district. Any student who tries to harm him/herself has to sign it. But this kid is in second-grade…and dyslexic.

We want to know – would you ask your child to sign a no-suicide pact?

Post your comments here. Kyra will read some of them on the air in the 10am ET hour of Newsroom.


Filed under: Kyra Phillips
soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. Dean

    No, I would put him in a private school. Public schools are the worst.

    March 30, 2010 at 6:31 am |
  2. June Clendening

    No, I would not ask my child to sign a no-suicide pact, I would require my child to identify to me any student who bullies him or her and report them to the principal and demand, over and over, if necessary, that those bullies be severely punished. I've seen first hand what bullies can do to a child. They grow to hate school and all too frequently drop out.

    March 30, 2010 at 7:22 am |
  3. Jasmine

    What the heck? Are you serious? The boy is 8 years old, he is too young to even understand what this agreement is. If he were my son, he WOULD NOT sign this so-called "No suicide" agreement. Is it not possible for the school to punish the bullies and yet, still make my dyslexic son sign a paper that he doesn't even understand? It seems that the school is a bully as well as its student...I would go up to the school and demand that the bullies be punished. If no action occurs, I would move my child to another school and file a lawsuit with the previous school for child abuse.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:07 am |
  4. BOLA

    OF COURSE NOT!!! I would remove my child from that school. That is ridiculous!! The root cause of the child wanting to harm himself must be found, the child protected and supported psychologically and removed from the enviroment if the enviroment cannot be changed

    March 30, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  5. Charlie B.

    I think a no bullying contract would be in order.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  6. Jess

    Do you think that signing a contract is going to keep a kid from killing themselves? I don't. When a person is so over their lives that they want to do that, nothing is going to stop them other than feeling loved. Parents need to slow down, pay more attention to the kids, and let them know they are unconditionally loved. Have real conversations with them about things that go on in their world EVERY DAY! The kids who tormented this girl should definitely be held accountable and we need to stop making excuses for meanness!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  7. anjela

    No suicide pact has got to be thee most ridiculous thing in the world. I guess it is to lessen the liability of the schools in the event of a student killing themselves. Absolutely ridiculous. Why would someone sign a no suicide pact. Most people who commit suicide aren't thinking logically and certainly aren't thinking in their minutes of sheer desperation"Oh I can't do this I signed a 'no suicide' pact!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  8. Joe

    If you have to ask your kid to sign a contract not to kill his/herself, It's pretty safe to say you've already failed as a parent!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  9. deborah albert

    i know that school can be rough i gave this thought to all mt kids your goal is to make them eat thier words by becoming better smarter acheive more and leave them in the dust in effect dont get mad get even by being that much better then them, all my kids got the point and become strong indviduals by the motto suicide is not an option

    March 30, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  10. Steve B.

    This is NOT a good idea. Trying to prevent a kid, who can't read and can't understand a"no suicide contract", from suicide won't work! Suicide people will try to kill themselves unexpectedly. I would advise that kid's parents to pull their kid out of school and take the district to court. The "no suicide" contract will NOT be upheld in court at any time. It is NOT a prevention tool!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  11. Erik

    After having a very painful, very similar childhood to the ones described in these stories, my greatest fear is that my children will suffer the way I suffered. No, I would not have my child sign some "no self-harm" contract. Asking anyone that young to sign any sort of contract is beyond absurd. The child doesn't comprehend the idea of a contract, and more importantly it does nothing to solve the greater issue of childhood bullying. Children can be cruel and merciless, speaking from experience. The child needs help from his school, his family, and maybe therapy. Not some meaningless "contract."

    March 30, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  12. Kimberly

    I know that bullying is nothing new, but it is amazing how it still continues. When are we going to stand up and do something about it? Where do children learn this hate? What makes certain ones think they are better than others? Where are the teacher's and the parents in all of these situations? I only hope that my sons will be able to come to me if something like this is going on, but also, I will make sure that I teach that it is not ok to bully. Come on parents and teachers, this is grassroots! It starts with all of us. How can we expect legislators to do anything about this before we do!

    Having any child sign an agreement does not make sense. How about getting the children who are bullying and their parents together with the child being bullied and his parents? How about having the bullies do volunteer work at a homeless shelter for children? How about the bullies have mandatory psychotherapy and in house detention...where is the stand in our schools? If there are no limits or boundaries the bullies will continue to reign. This is ridiculous!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  13. Jeff

    I have three teenagers and the thought that there is a possibility that my kids could commit suicide is unbearable. The school officials should be fired and not allowed to work with kids ever again. Though I would love to think signing a piece of paper or writing on a chalkboard would help, most know it would not, and I believe all it does is bring suicide to the front of that childs options not put that option at the back.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  14. Carey Gauzens, LCSW, CP

    Hi Keira

    I want to weigh in on the "no suicide pact" issue that you are asking about. I am a psychotherapist, and began my career as a suicide hotline counselor, supervisor and trainer. In the 25 years since then, I have repeatedly encountered suicidal individuals– teen and adult.

    Asking an individual to sign a "no suicide contract," is a fairly standard and clinically supported way of helping someone who cannot see past the next few hours or days, to have more investment in life than death. It is NOT meant to "trap" anyone or harm anyone, and in fact, I can say from my own personal experience (please do not share this part on air if you share my name) when I myself have been suicidal in the past, before becoming a therapist, that having signed a contract DID in fact help save my life, and keep me feeling committed to not harming myself, and connected by a promise and agreement with someone else who cared about me (my therapist).

    THIS is the spirit of no suicide contracts, and I can tell you that I have experienced it myself, and helped numerous other people to get through devastating times, to the other side where hope is still alive, by having them sign a no suicide contract.

    So, I do not know what happened with the 8 year old boy, and cannot defend or condemn school officials for having the boy sign a contract, because I don't know the spirit that was done in. But I DEEPLY HOPE and ENCOURAGE YOU NOT to turn no suicide contracts into something "bad" because they are a LIFE SAVING TOOL that therapists use.

    By the way, the most effective use of a no suicide contract is when a person is very suicidal, and the therapist/friend/parent is trying to help them get through THAT PARTICULAR CRISIS and period of time. To ask someone who is deeply depressed or traumatized to sign a "no suicide forever" contract, in my clinical opinion, is not helpful nor useful, and diminishes the impact of an excellent tool to help people stay safe.

    Thank you for reading.
    Carey Gauzens, LCSW, CP
    Psychotherapist, Alexandria, Virginia

    March 30, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  15. Thomas

    A paper to sign to pledge to not commit suicide is only a lame attempt to take the heat off a school and its staff.

    Remember when kids went to school and got homework, later graded by the teacher? No more, now we have no homework or graded in class by mates. Lots of vacation and how about those 3 day weekends. Teachers used to be respected and unpaid, now they are space fillers and get a decent to good check, thanks a lot teacher unions.

    Bullies have to be handled by parents. No physical violance but FORCE the school board, principle, local law enforcement to get involved, that what they are there for. Parents who refuse to get involved ......well it is too bad for their kids.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  16. Cristy

    NO. pact or no pact it does not make a difference. I was a victim of being bullied from primary to secondary school. I was involved in 11 fights from 8th grade to end of freshman year. It was terrible but the support and change came from changing to a better school. I tried group sessions with my bullies and it didn't work. I tried avoiding them and that did not help. Changing your entire environment is better for the child and making sure they start off on the right foot; getting acquainted with the right classmates, getting involved in school activities and having those people as their support group including the parent/s. This is what counts, what helps and is needed to stay positive. Children need comfort from their peers in order to feel confident about themselves, a contract is just writing on a piece of paper just like a detention/suspension or write up...it means nothing.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  17. Rob

    No! There's no reason for my child to sign a suicide contract, instead why haven't the school districts AS WELL AS THE PARENTS reinstated corporal punishment! It only took one time from my coach to change my behavior!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  18. Sharon

    No, I would not have had my 8-year old sign a non-suicide pact. Once I brought the bullying to the principal's attention, I would have taken some initial steps, including showing up at school unannounced, watching playground activity and documenting what I saw, calling a meeting with my child's teaching team, school counselor, and principal. Since this child had dyslexia, where was his IEP and why wasn't he being more closely watched as a result of that IEP? If bullying continued, I would have told the principal a lawsuit would be pending involving everyone from the school board down. I would have pressed charges against those who bullied my child and, if possible, against the teacher who allowed the bullying to continue once she was alerted to it. I would have found an alternative education setting, be it home school or private school and sent the bill to the public school. And during all that, I would have my child in counseling. To those parents who are afraid that their child will be singled out if they make a big deal out of bullying, please remember – the child is already a target. You – and your child – have nothing more to lose if you press the issue.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  19. Dan Lafayette,IN

    Kyra, I don't think that it would help much even if they knew what they were signing. When a young child is repeatedly abused by others they are so emotionally scarred that they most likely will not adhere to it anyway. What needs to be done is that the bullies should be suspended on the first offense and expelled on the second offense! Then maybe parents might teach their children to respect others no matter who they are!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  20. anjela

    My daughter was bullied when we moved here to CT and I tried with her to find out why this girl was ruining her life. She came invited to our home but the bullying still continued. I thought perhaps she had some problems and if we showed her kindness she would leave my child alone.It was middle school. I then went to the school and to the credit of the school in Darien CT they set up a schedule where the girl NEVER came in contact with my child- changed around schedules and classes and made sure they were never alone together. It was right at the time of those American school shootings so everyone was super sensitive.
    The bully has since spent time in a mental hospital – had tried to kill herself a few times- found out she had a family member who had molested and had raped her so I suppose her anger was unleashed elsewhere- she went on to bully other girls and is now unmarried with two babies and isn't even 23 years old.
    It has to be nipped in the bud if the child is upset and can't handle it on their own. Act immediately if your child is being bullied.
    School is supposed to be a place of safety.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  21. Patricia Migenis

    NO! I would not. What sort of good would a piece of paper do? Are you serious??? What the schools, parents, and students should do instead of wasting time on something just plain redundant, is TEACH RESPECT. Plain and simple. There is no rocket science to what is happening... The answer is just this: RESPECT. Something that most parents nowadays just don't teach. I have a 7 and 1 year old boys and I would NEVER tolerate any kind of belittling behavior on their behalf.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  22. Carol

    I am a social worker, earning my MSW at Washington University in St Louis. While there, I did research on the grief process when losing a loved one to suicide and earned 3rd place in the Graduate Student Research Symposium in professional schools for my work.

    I lost my brother to suicide 7 years ago. He was an adult, but there was adult versions of bullying that contributed to his death. There was also mental illness as is the case with over 90% of those lost to suicide.

    There is an increasing number of children as young as 7 dying by suicide. Bullying is almost 100% a contributing factor. As others have noted, the child asked to sign the pact would not understand what he was signing. He had been bullied, and that is the issue that should be addressed.

    All too often schools have what they call anti-bullying education and see a decrease in reporting. However, the decreased reporting is because there are no consequences for bullying. I worked in a school doing tutoring that makes claims of decreased bullying due to their program. I sat in a classroom in that school and listened to a teacher telling kids to "sit back down on their ass" and saying she was giving them extra paper to do a project so "when they screw up" they will have extra paper.

    Prevention of suicide needs to focus on mental health care.

    And while I am at this....commit suicide is not used by those that work in this area. Instead lost to suicide or died by suicide are more common. This dates to the time when suicide was considered a crime and when someone died by suicide their possessions were seized as proceeds of a crime leaving families destitute. That is a part of what led to people lying about how their loved one died and the stigma attached to a death by suicide.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  23. Pamela Mathias

    No Kyra I don't believe a teacher should be making a student, no matter what age, write "I will not commit suicide." It is not the same as I will not talk in class. They need more help than that. If they want to help, the schools should have a therapist on staff or call. Why are the teachers who are seeing or being told of these incidents not doing anything to help
    My son committed suicide when he was 29, We have no reason why, but I am confident that if I made him sit down and write "I will not commit suicide" on a piece of paper, it would not have changed things. Some people can handle pressure better than others. I agree that the students in the High school girls case should be punished. Wouldn't that be like a stalker?

    March 30, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  24. Donald Wyand

    Kyra,

    This unfortunate situation is the product of our inability to govern the youth of today. It appears to me that children walk around with the attitude of you owe me and when confronted they bring on the poor me excuses. These "bullies" will suffer no real punishment and this so called "No-Suicide" contract will not help this young boy as he has already thought at 8 years old that suicide is an option. The youth of today is full of excuses and we sit back and condone these excuses to our demise.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  25. Belva

    No, I would not ask my child to sign ANY sort of contract. First of all, a child this young has no real understanding of what a contract means. As for older children and youth, if they are allowed to get that desperate they will do, in that moment, whatever they set out to do regardless of a meaningless piece of paper they've signed. Keep your kids close to you, know them and their friends well (or lack there of) and teach them to stand up for themselves no matter how painful. Teach them to hang on to hope that "this too shall pass". If you kill yourself you'll miss the good part of life!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  26. JM

    How irresponsible!! Priorities are very clear. We do not want to get into trouble. I think it is a torture to even ask the child to sign such a thing. Making him sign a contract is not going to help the child feel any better. If they had spent a little more time talking to the child or taking action against bullying that would have stopped him from doing something like this. Such an experience might even haunt the child throughout his life.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  27. Usha

    This school need serious evaluation from Educational board. How signing No-Suicide agreement will ensure safety of kid? School has failed to pay heed to the cause of 8 year old committing suicide.

    I will not let my child sign No-Suicide Pact...rather I will gather all parents and make them change those stupid policies and make school promote more healthy and safe environment for kids in school.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  28. Sharon

    Making a child sign a non-suicide compact places the onus for the problem on the child – in other words, scapegoats the victim. That record follows a child throughout the school career. No, I would not have had my 8-year old sign a non-suicide pact.

    Once I brought the bullying to the principal's attention, I would have taken some initial steps, including showing up at school unannounced, watching playground activity and documenting what I saw, calling a meeting with my child's teaching team, school counselor, and principal.

    Since this child had dyslexia, where was his IEP and why wasn't he being more closely watched as a result of that IEP?

    If bullying continued, I would have told the principal a lawsuit would be pending involving everyone from the school board down. I would have pressed charges against those who bullied my child and, if possible, against the teacher who allowed the bullying to continue once she was alerted to it.

    I would have found an alternative education setting, be it home school or private school and sent the bill to the public school. And during all that, I would have my child in counseling. To those parents who are afraid that their child will be singled out if they make a big deal out of bullying, please remember – the child is already a target. You – and your child – have nothing more to lose if you press the issue.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  29. Stephanie Garonzik

    As a parent, I would never have my children sign a contract for such a deadly serious matter. Contacting a mental health professional would be my first and immediate response to any comment hinting of suicide by a child of mine. As a Texas second grade teacher and parent, I am horrified by the story. In my extensive experience, I have never come in contact with a teacher who has expressed such lack of common sense, when dealing with a troubled student. Contracts with students are intended to modify student behavior so that he/she will improve learning. School counselors and psychologists are part of school districts as support in the area of emotional health. I am saddened to think that this child's "teacher" fell through the cracks in the system and landed in the classroom.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  30. Christi Knight

    Making the child sign a "no-suicide pact" is placing the responsibility for the bullying on that poor kid – as if it was his fault to begin with.
    Children don't like things rubbed in their faces anymore than adults do.
    Make the kids who are bullying sign a no-bullying contract and/or kick their sorry butts out of school - and get them ~all~ some therapy.
    By placing the responsibility on the victim – it is enabling these kids. They might as well give them a stamp of approval for bad behavior. Shame on the school – shame!
    This is also setting the bullies up for a lifetime of misery. Happy and well-adjusted kids don't bully.

    I've performed shows in schools for years – at one school we were made to sign a contract promising that we weren't pedophiles. This makes about as much sense – logic people logic!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  31. Carl

    Absolutely not. The child needs private counseling by professionals. The Texas school system is a joke.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  32. Lee

    The notion of a 'no suicide' agreement is absurd. If a child, or an adult for that matter, has genuinely reached such a point of desperation in their life to consider suicide a written agreement will probably have little to do with the outcome. I have horrible memories of my childhood at a grade school in rural missouri. I was instantly targeted as an outsider and endured years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of my classmates. The main aspect of this that I will never forget is that the school faculty did little to nothing to correct an obvious problem. I remember one teacher in particular watched these events unfold in the classroom on a daily basis and did nothing. I never considered suicide, however, I know how it feels as a child to endure this type of abuse while those who are responsible do nothing. The answer is within a school's disciplinary policy and faculty effectiveness, not an agreement that an eight year old won't understand.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  33. Darren

    First prayer was taken out of schools, then they took away from the teachers the ability to exact real punishment; many school districts have instituted zero tolerance policies; childrent aren't allowed, either verbally or physically, to defend themselves the result is the child who is being tormented is asked to sign a contract, what happens to the bullying child. Not so many years ago it was fine to kick a bully's butt, it solved the bullying problem. On another note think of how sad a statement it is for America that an eight year old even considers taking his own life.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  34. crab fisherman from washington state

    Why is anyone surprised at anything Texas or Texans do? From their choice of schoolbooks, the politicians they send to represent their state,to their governor suggest they would be better off if the state seceded from the union.If you keep your children in this kind of educational system, then you will suffer the backlash of the programs you have benn responsible for how they are taught.Wise up Texas!

    March 30, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  35. Pamela Burns PhD

    This incident both saddens me and enrages me. As an Educational consultant Advocate for children attending public schools it is shocking that so few persons are aware of Federal and State Education Law. compliance with which is tied to funding.. Schools do not need to wait for their legislatures to write specific law regarding bullying or sensitivity to children vulnerable to emotional issues as a result.
    All schools receiving federal funds MUST comply with a law called "CHILDFIND". This requires every school employee who notices a child experiencing academic issues, emotional difficulties, social problems and psychiatric problems – all these students are to be identified and evaluated to ensure their success ( usually academic but not always) is not affected by the above.
    This is a routine procedure, or should be in all public schools and in this instance it would apply to both a suicidal child or the students bullying him/her. It is roultine because every sutudent with a disability and/or suspected of one must be afforded this required school function K – 12. The fact that schools do not comply is because it is one of public schools' best kept secrets. As a matter of fact most of todays public school issues can be resolved by following Federal and State Ed Laws, regulations, State statutes, policies and procedures. For anyone who wants this information in easy, understandable terms go to Wrightslaw.com – the best education law site. If more people – parents, media especially were aware of these laws, particularly the parts that apply to your child in the classroom, perhaps compliance wouldn't be left to those of us who have to litigate to prevent these suicides, burnings and needless deaths of students.
    These days when schools are failing or failed, the Institutional tendency is for the School Boards and Administrations to "BLAME THE VICTIMS" for not learning or bad teaching when the truth lies in their non-compliance with already comprehensive (but not the best) education laws we already have. I wish before a student is blamed by a school or media they would think first if it is possible the student might have serious problems – problems covered by education law.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  36. Ricky

    Hold the school bullies, parents, & systems responsible. Don't increase the already heightened stress for a bullied victim. Require the BULLIES & parents/guardians sign "no-bully" contracts spelling out consequences. Require teachers & staff sign anti-bully contracts. Make the schools AND parents of bullies pay/subsidize the move to a safe school (public OR private) of a bullied student. Require that parents/guardians are held liable/responsible for bullies actions. It is ridiculous that a school's solution is aimed at reforming the victim instead of the aggressor.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  37. Cary Casey

    Hi Kyra,

    How about a no-bullying contract?

    Thank you,

    Cary Casey
    Ashburn, VA

    March 30, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  38. Haley

    I do not agree that the child should have signed the No Suicide Agreement. The school should have done something about the bullying instead of ignoring it and pushing the boy to try to commit the suicide. The school is to blame.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  39. Judy

    I sure would BUT it has to be accompanied by family discussions. Maybe if the school hands out these types of contracts, and sends them home for the parents to see, it will bring the issue to light to someone who may not have even thought to discuss THIS issue with a 2nd grader.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  40. Anonymous

    I think that just shows how messed up everything is now. Where we have to worry about a second grader committing suicide... Come on. Is there any break in the madness that is consuming this country?

    March 30, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  41. Jonathan

    It would not matter. Is the school trying to hold itself not liable for what the teacher was allegedly doing...or not doing?

    Ridicuous

    March 30, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  42. charles

    That teacher should be ashamed of herself. you dont punish a kid for depression instead you ask that kid whats going on and listen and comfort the child not make them further hate their lives. that teacher should be fired. sticks and stones may break their bones but words will kill them.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  43. Neal

    It may not be as good of an idea with a young child, but no-suicide contracts are very commonly used with adults who are having suicidal thoughts, and the contracts are actually quite effective in reducing the risk. It would be entirely appropriate for the school to do this with high school students, for example.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:15 am |
  44. Linda Wilson

    My child wouldn't be signing a suicide pact. My child would be changing schools!! Ridiculous. Schools take little, if no, responsibility for students bad behavior in school. Parents should be notified IMMEDIATELY when bullying occurs. And parents should be a fixture in the school their child attends.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:15 am |
  45. Marianne Frederick

    This is a disturbing question. In our home, we teach that life in and of itself is holy– and that no matter how bad things may seem at the time, none of us has the right to take our own life. We teach that our life is in God's hands, and come what may, we pray that our faith is strong enough to resist even the temptation to choose suicide as a way out during painful times. Bad times are temporal, they eventually subside. Prayer helps! As a mentor in faith, I urge anyone who is even contemplating suicide– to find one good thought and hold on to it, to choose life, embrace faith and to pray for the strength to live another hour, another day. It will be given. I have never known that prayer to fail. Beyond any time of trial, there is hope– however slim it may seem that things will work out– there is hope. Dwell on that.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:15 am |
  46. Josh

    I think that's a pretty horrible idea.
    If you make someone sign one of these pacts, you're basically saying, 'I don't trust you with your own life, therefore, you must sign it to me because I know what to do with it'
    It really is a slap in the face and an insult to intelligence.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:15 am |
  47. Joseph Daniel Brian Lawlor

    Book of Wisdom 1:12"do not cause harm to your self by your own hand or erring way in life" a lesson that should be taught during times of duress. The mental state of a developing teen out of balance to begin with so being subjected to negative actions in a schoolyard that has grown meaner over time bound to have serious consequences...as it is doing real time real time..

    March 30, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  48. Kyla

    Dean, you can't comment that public schools are worse than private; the only difference is religious affiliation and paying unnecessary amounts of money.
    An 8-year old even thinking about ending his life is the most morbid thing I've heard of in awhile. I think the pact was a good idea because he honestly didn't know the extent of his actions. Something like a "no-suicide contract" would put it at a more tangible level and make it easier for the adult and child to communicate about the issue.
    But what this child really needs is teachers who are going to read cues in the classroom. The teacher should have been able to see the bullying happening and put a stop to it with a class meeting or a meeting with the children who were bullying him. The bullying in second grade is likely to carry on to bullying in older grades and the child will most likely not improve his mental outlook if it continues.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  49. Rick

    I would say no! That's like putting a bandaid on a gash! What they need is to sit the bully's down and find out why they do it. This should have been done years ago in Hawaii where I grew up! Over in Hawaii whites are known as haolis and the last day of school each year was known as KILL HAOLI day!!! And that was 2nd grade to 12th and state wide!. CNN wants to do a good story on bullying? Go to Hawaii!!!!!!

    March 30, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  50. Arlene

    This is ridiculous! Why do they do anything about the bully's and have them sign a NO MORE BULLY "Contract", or suspend them! The child will be just fine if those bully's would be sent away.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  51. chris

    No its time for school to take there responsibilities seriously and stop bullying. bulling be going on well since anyone been in school.

    enough is enough school don't want to "deal with it" just look at what happen in mass. If i was the kids parents i would of went to school and ask to see there rules in progress.

    enough is enough. school are suppose to keep kids safe and are responsibilities to handle this.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  52. Daniel

    Anything that fights the stigma of suicide is a good thing. My father took his own life last summer, and despite the fact that we were estranged, I can't overstate how much this event changed my life.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:17 am |
  53. Emily Hauenstein

    This child is suicidal because of the acts of others, not because there is something wrong with him. Instead of engaging in a method (no suicide contract) that has no research support, school authorities need to target and eliminate the source of this child's distress. No child should suffer from bullying and the school has a responsibility to end it.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:17 am |
  54. charles

    no instead have the bullies sign a no bulling pact.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  55. Lisa GA

    How ridiculous! They should make the teachers sign a zero tolerance for bullying!!!! The child that is being bullied has lost their will to reason and defend. The school need to take accusations seriously and false accusations even more seriously. If a child is so vindictive they should be suspended....2nd warning suspension then finally expelled as a third strike. Those kids involved in that girls death should be punished but that is not for me to decide.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  56. Chad Eric Smith

    If parents bring up their children in a healthy and loving supporting environment and instill in their children self-confidence, then a “No-Suicide Pact” will not be needed. Kids should not be introduced to the idea by signing a contract saying they won’t kill themselves. Instead, they should be re-introduced to the concept that “life is valuable”. Have them sign a contract agreeing to that.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  57. Mary Smith

    As a parent that lost a son to suicide I would have done anything to have saved him. Children are exposed to this type of news and entertainment daily. Lets help them to cope before its too late.

    Happy Easter and
    God Bless!

    Mary

    March 30, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  58. Ellen

    They should be having kids sign a "no bullying" pact! The bulliers are the real problem. It's because of them that some kids are committing suicide. Bulliers are the source of the problem, and the emphasis needs to be directed at them to resolve the problem. I guess it's "easier" to come down on the kids being bullied than to focus on those doing the bullying, but I doubt that it will be particularly effective. Unless the bullying stops, some kids can only take so much and "pact" or "no pact" some will still kill themselves.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:23 am |
  59. Tamara

    This sounds obsurd to me.

    How is a 'child' suppose to understand what a contract is or it's importance. This does not make sense to me. Anyone who is continplating suicide is not going to stop and say – " Oh I can't, I signed that contract'.

    What it does do, is bring to light, a thought process of suicide being an option.

    What are the reprecussions of breaking this contract?

    My point exactly..

    March 30, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  60. Jessica Stephens

    No, a child does not understand a contract and means nothing to him or her. The child who is being treated meanly by other students needs adult support. The child or children bullying should be spoken with at extreme measures, to understand the actions he or she has towards other students. Parenting is the issue here. People want to blame the children, the children learn from home and bring it to schools. There is more of an issue with the bully at home then there is with the victum. The school needs to find out as to why the child is acting the way he or she is at school, if necessary CPS should get involved.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  61. Jon Hom

    While I agree with the idea of a No Suicide contract on the basis that we cannot resolve what we refuse to confront.
    An equally important question in my mind is; exactly what was done about the agressive little pariah who drove the second grader in question to such desperation.
    Surely there is a point where we stop saying boys will be boys and draw the line as a society, step back and dare the afore mentioned bullies to cross it. To all bullies out there young and old I say enough is enough you victimize any you get us all, and your parents too.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  62. Michael D

    I agree with the comment of a no bullying contract. Bullies, and the parents of bullies are the problem, and until schools can deal with them this is going to continue to happen. I have a one year old daughter and everyday I think about how she views my wife and my actions and how this will shape her personality. My wife was picked on because she was petite throughout high school and they made her life miserable. We have too many parents in this country who have children and make no effort to raise them as a productive member of society. You know who you are and you should be ashamed of your selves because you are to blame for this growing problem with suicides in young children. Their death is your fault!

    March 30, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  63. Angela

    What does a second grader really know about suicide? Instead of putting a negative spin on a controversial issue, why don't you ask the same 2nd grader to sign an "appreciation of life" contract? Putting a more positive spin to a profound topic will do wonders for anyone. Perhaps the bully could also sign the same pact. Appreciating the good versus focusing on the bad is a practice that everyone (including the media, politicians, teachers, parents, etc) should follow. This is a practice that has been heavily studied among educators–students and people in general just positively react to positive stimulus. And if your 2nd grader is talking about suicide now, maybe you and your family should go to famly counseling.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  64. Lisa GA

    To respond to the second grader I feel the same! How dare they make the child feel as though he were the one in the wrong by signing that agreement. Crazy! Who was the PHd that thought this was a good idea. He needs therapy for the bullying he was subjected to and the school should be accountable for not protecting the children that could not defend themselves. Where are their heads?
    I've seen teachers and know of teachers still that condone and model behavior that promotes bullying and cliques! It starts at the top! Values and Inclusion must be taught and instilled in children in these schools and perhaps we should take steps to include departments within the school to ensure that this is not happening. It's a title that you give to the best counselor within the schools existing team!

    March 30, 2010 at 9:28 am |
  65. Tom from Vermillion, Ohio

    Suicide Pact for an 8yr old with dyslexia!?!? From my idea of what "dyslexia" is, it is kinda like "seeing" the world in reverse. "Yes" means "no" and "no" means "yes". To have a pact that essentially says "I will not commit suicide today" means "I will commit suicide today". This is the most basics of basics. To write 100 times on the black board, "I will not commit suicide" only re-inforces the mind "I will commit suicide". What's a possible solution? Show the child "how" to explore the wonderful and interesting world around. Watch carefully for "sparks" of interest, coming from within. Being punitive only will exasperate the problem.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  66. K.M.

    I was bullied in high school, and even after raising concerns with the administration they did absolutely nothing. Now as a junior in college it still makes me extremely angry because there is nothing that the one getting bullied can do. Instead of making a 2nd grader promise that he isnt going to kill himself these bullies need to be arrested, charged with assault in many cases, and there needs to be a absolute zero-tolerance policy in our schools. Weve got to send a message that bullying is NOT ok. because it isnt.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:30 am |
  67. Anonymous

    ARE YOU ALL SERIOUS? When did depression affect little kids? did i miss something. change schools that kid needs a mental evaluation. Kids for years were bullied what happened?

    March 30, 2010 at 9:31 am |
  68. Marilyn

    I am a Life Skills Counselor in an elementary/middle school and high school. I can't say whether the school acted appropriately in the case of that 2nd grader without knowing the entire story. However, I have on occassion had students sign a "No Self Harm" contract depending if there has been a suicide threat or attempt. This gives the child time to rethink their thoughts and take the steps he or she agreed to on the contract. Usually it would be to call a friend or suicide hotline. But your question was would I have my child sign a pact. YES, in addition to teaching him positive coping skills.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  69. Sharon

    I've seen teachers in Texas gang up on a little kid in a parent-teacher meeting. They were standing over this child yelling rapid-fire orders at him. He was wincing as he darted from his desk to his 'cubby' hook on the wall in the classroom. It was simultaneously heart-wrenching and infuriating.

    Then they sat down, all five of them, in the shape of a horseshoe, surrounding me and began talking all at once to me. I looked them all in the eye and told them I'd never seen my son wince – ever. And I had better never see him do it again. I told them flat out I'd take the matter as high as I had to if I ever found out they did that to him again.

    They all got quiet for a moment, trying to size me up and figure out if I'd really do it. Still looking at them all, I simply said, "You don't want to push this."

    The leader of that 'team' (insert 'gang' here) had a voice that could etch glass at 20 yards. She was known among the parents as using pubic humiliation and sarcasm, and doing mean things to the kids. Why wasn't she removed? She was the mother of the city attorney.

    That entire year, almost all the homework consisted of packets of xeroxed papers containing reshuffled TASS test questions.

    As the result of that meeting, I had asked to see the papers on which my son had been given zeroes for not having put his name on them. I asked the English teacher, if he didn't put his name on the papers, how did you know to give him zeroes. She looked like a rabbit caught in headlights. I later received a 10-sentence note from her – but never the papers. The note contained nine incorrectly written sentences. Some contained spelling and punctuation errors. Others lacked subject/predicate agreement. One was an Olympic gold run-on sentence. I took it to the Assistant Superintendent and identified every error. He said the "matter would be handled behind the scenes."

    That year, the news reported that 4% (at least 12) of teachers in that district were not certified.

    We left at the end of that school year and moved back to civilization. As the result of their education practices, my son was a year behind when we returned to the north.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  70. selleca wright

    A no suicide pact is the most rediculous thing I have ever heard and what about the bullies they just continue to go unpunished. If it were my son I would be at that school before it came to this point demanding something be done with the bullies... the teacher who let it go on needs to be fired bullying is never o.k. and instead of punishing the bullies and teacher who let it go on this school is not only letting it go on they are actually condoning it.....If I were the parents I would be in that school showing that teacher what bullying really is....The school is punishing the victim in this case.....no matter how you look at it is wrong......I would punch the teacher and the parents of the bullies......what the hell is going on the parents need to get a lawyer

    March 30, 2010 at 9:36 am |
  71. Sherry Morgan

    How ludicrous. These school officials should be more concerned with why teachers are allowing a child to be bullied by other children to the point of suicide. If nothing else, create an anti-bullying pact for not only the children doing the bullying, but for the obviously incompetent teachers who don't put a stop to it. This little boy is once again being picked on, only now it's by the school district.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  72. KJ

    I was bullied in grade and middle school alot. Even when i brought the issue up to the administration they did absolutely nothing. This is so unfair to the bullied because they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do you regularly alert the admin. and open yourself up to more harassment and physical violence due to retaliation, or do you just let your 14 year old son seem weaker by the day by doing nothing and attracting more attention from bullies.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  73. sheri

    When are we going to stop allowing schools/teachers/administrators to dictate treatment for mental & behavioral health issues. I hold schools responsible for insisting that children be placed on Ritalin. Look how abusive that was for our kids. Now, we are going to let these people, who are not educated & licensed in mental health, to propose treatments. Unbelievable.

    Here's an idea. Why don't educators concentrate on doing their jobs & identify learning disabilities earlier and seek out effective teaching methods to teach these students?

    March 30, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  74. Gerri

    What good is a contract to a person who wants to kill themselves? Espically if it is a child who doesn't understand contracts anyway and how does this resolve the problem. Why not work on the reason behind their need to kill themselves.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  75. Barbara Johnson

    The issiue is not a suicide 'release form' for a child. It is the example being set all over the US with bullying, name calling, sign creating visciousness and anger from the adults surrounding the children. They see examples 24/7 on the television of how to 'treat the President of their Country. and others in daily living.

    It is extremely sad that these precious little ones have few examples of kindness and caring...thoughtful integrity and problem solving without rankor...

    The Tea Party Behavior permeates the children of those people...How else would one expect them to behave toward others who disagree?
    Barbara

    March 30, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  76. pomblanc

    Its rediculous to ask a 2d grader to sign a pact that he can not understand

    March 30, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  77. Janet

    This story and the related one about the teenager dying because of bullying reflects the growing attitude of teachers to 'not get involved' in the lives of students. They turn away after observing these acts as though it is not their job, which it is, and frankly, ignore simple humanity to intercede when they see abuse. If they collar a bully and pull them into the principal's office, are the teachers so frightened of losing their jobs in case the bully's parent is outraged? Do school boards not support the teachers who would stand up for a victiim and encourage a bully to seek therapy before it escalates? A suicide contract or making a child write on blackboard is just a legal manuever for liability and does nothing to help,

    March 30, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  78. Monica

    At 8 years old? There is no way! I have 4 children ranging from the age of 8yrs to 6mo. My 8yo doesn't even know what suicide is!!!

    March 30, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  79. Bob Pendleton

    Talk about punishing the victim. How about making the bullies, and every other student sign a no-bullying contract? Or maybe making the teacher sign a "be a responsible human being" contract.

    Would I let my child sign such a contract? No. But I would spend every dime I have pursuing criminal and civil actions against the bullies, the teacher, and the staff of that school.
    We know that bullying causes serious emotional damage. Sometimes the victims commit suicide. (In 6th grade a friend of mine did it to get away from bullies. Hung himself with a coat hanger in his closet. That would have been in '64. This is not new.) We also know that it can drive the victims to extreme acts of vengeance. Have we forgotten Columbine?

    What kind of contract would the school ask the victim to sign if instead of committing suicide he had taken a family gun to school and killed the bullies and the teacher? Would they have him write 100 times on the board "I will not commit homicide"?

    Bob Pendleton

    March 30, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  80. Elaine S

    No I don't think he should have signed a no suicide act, I feel those bullies should sign a I promise not to bully other childern act.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  81. Megan

    Suicide pacts do nothing to address the problem: suicidality. As someone who has signed countless "contracts" .... i laugh in my head each time i have to sign one, because it's not going to keep me from committing the act if i really decide to. that paper won't ever enter my head again. i would imagine the same goes for any second grader, especially where the abusive behavior continues.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  82. Art

    I'd be in a police station pressing charges of sexual assault.
    Has the school lost it's mind?
    Let my child sign something like this? How about the other children sign an agreement to stop harassing this poor child on pain of expulsion.
    Let's try to remember who the victim is here.

    Art

    March 30, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  83. andrew hernandez

    No that's not right,the teachers should really stop the kids from fighting each other or at least put the bullies in a separate room with a counselor.
    At least i wouldn't let my child sign an agreement like that,it's horrible.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  84. Stephen Smoot

    I cannot believe that an educated teacher would think it was appropriate, to have this child write a suicide contract on the board, in front of other students. What happened to privacy when dealing with serious matters of this nature? This is a matter for the parent and the child to deal with, and not the school. The school failed to protect the child from bullying, and then punished the victim again, by humiliating him. If my child were put in this situation and embarrased, t would hire an attorney, and see how a civil jury felt about it.

    Stephen Smoot
    Madison, Indiana

    March 30, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  85. Shannon

    Aboslutly NOT! The school should really take a look at what caused the child to leap out of a window. There is no way a kid that young could fully understand such a contract, this is not how I remember school systems! You would think they would go after the bullies, didn't the parent say she had brought it to the attention of the teacher prior to this? What is happening in our school systems? I'm in fear of my kids going into public school for this reason!

    March 30, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  86. Patricia Lite Hickman

    The state of bullying in schools has gone on for far too many generations. The teachers (in a Wisconsin school system) told my grandson to be "the bigger person" and ignore this. That is unacceptable. I am in school now studying psychology because I want to make a difference in this area. We did not get into this state overnight and will not get out overnight however, the schools should initiate a zero tolerance for such behavior and educate the families. We have far too much dysfunction in our homes which spills out to society beginning with elementary grades. Thank you Kyra for bringing this up, absolutely the child involved in this story should NOT have been made to sign a suicide contract, but should be followed with the school psychologist overtime. It probably is not just the bullying at school that has this young child thinking of suicide. There are probably other issues too and the bullying was the catalyst to bringing this out in the open.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  87. Cherri

    The children should sign a "I WILL NOT BULLY MY FELLOW SCHOOLMATES" Contract instead!

    March 30, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  88. chris

    Dean all you are doing is putting him in a different environment that these parents might not have the money and it will not Stop the bullying.

    you just don't get it. you can't shelid them but these school need to deal with this big time.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  89. Joy

    OF COURSE NOT! I would make the school sign a zero tolerance for bullying pact...and a expulsion for 'sexting' pact. I am very surprised that on a day when bullying and its damaging affects is in the forefront of the CNN's reporting that you also had a sympathic segment regarding a boy that sent out a naked pic of his girlfriend. Wasn't he actually bent on bullying his girlfriend by sending the picture out because he was angry? She will never be able to get that picture back and she will never know when it may come up again in her life. Once something hits the internet, it is there forever. She will never be free of this and neither should he. He SHOULD be registered as a sex offender and he should have to live the rest of his life with the consequences of his actions, just as she will have to live with the consequences of hers and his. It is absolutely unacceptable that he should be considered a victim or just a boy being a boy....Kyra, you should know better than to present it that way.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  90. Maria

    Another example of making the victim the perpertrator! Insanity! I would start going to school with my child, since they can't protect him.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  91. alvin

    how can the school honestly beleive having a 8 year old sign a contract possibly think this child knew what he was signing. a true understanding to this matter will only be acheived when this happens to one of their kids or family member. the school system seems to be as much broken as the govt.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  92. Matt Ackah Jr

    The question should be whether all kids must sign, a-no-bully-pact, thereby ensuring accountability and a bully-free (no kid is bullied or bullies) learning environment!

    Thank you
    Germantown, MD

    March 30, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  93. no suicide

    Wow, Are they insane? This child is crying out for help. Signing a contract and making him write on the board is just bullying the child again. It is sending the message that the bullying is not wrong only trying to kill yourself. If a child could be helped or corrected with a contract, we will solve all problems facing children today. Help the child by giving him the right health care professionals and make an example out of the bullies letting them know that bullying is not tolorated.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  94. Ivan Morales

    Hi Kyra,

    No I would not have my child sign that contract, because as some have already mentioned he's 8 years old and signing a piece of paper is not going to understand the child's feelings and resolve anything. If anything, it sounds like the school is trying to get out of some liability in case one of their students succeeds with a suicide attempt! "Oh, well he signed a contract saying he wouldn't do it." Where are the counselors/advisors these days? Why isn't this child pulled out of class to discuss these feelings? In my elementary days, we had student to student mediation in front of an adviser in cases of bullying. If that doesn't work, get that child to a different school. Some one is not doing their job at that school.

    In response to some comments I read, first of all, not everyone can afford to put their child in private school and what really makes you think private schools are any better (regarding bullying). Second, HE'S 8! Someone commented that once they have suicide in their mind it can't be changed. Give me a break, talk to the boy, take him to make friends, and talk to the parents of the bully! Saying you can't do anything to help, is an excuse to do nothing!

    March 30, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  95. Tom from Vermillion, Ohio

    Having just seen both sides on TV and read all blogs preceeding. If anybody needs to "sign agreements or contracts" and write 100 times on the blackboard, its the principle, teachers et al. The solution is simple, they need to get recertified to teach or lose their license.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  96. Geecee

    In no way is an 8 year old capable of understanding this pact. This little boy needs appropriate age level help. Not middle school solutions, where they understands what that means

    March 30, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  97. Claudia C

    Ok now lets look at the idea of a no-suicide pact. What could the child possibly lose if he signs the contract and kills him/herself anyways(you cannot punish a person if they are dead). Seriously the signing of a pact like this is a joke because the child first of all is too young to understand the agreement, second, he is being tagged as the problem when he is not and most importantly even he signed the agreement what could possibly be the consequences of his actions if he's dead.

    This is not a solution!! The problem is with the bullying and the school system that has allowed students to get away with targeting students to this point.

    This child needs support that is positive and constructive so that he will move on and live a healthy life. Instead we see how the system labels him and a problem and does not have any logic behind it.

    I can't believe this happened. This is ridiculous!

    All my support and love to the family of this child and to the boy who had to live this tale.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  98. James

    This is a failure of the adults, not the children. The adults should be the ones who have to sign a contract "that they will not turn a blind eye to goings on in their schools" and the laws must be changed so that the adults won't be afraid of prosecution for correcting children's misbehaviors.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  99. Ms. P

    6 years ago, I attempted suicide when I was 15 after being bullied and belittled throughout my grade school career, in and outside of school. I was constantly made fun of, teachers and administration never did anything even if the bullying was made in class right in front of the teacher. I use to come home crying, begging my parents to take me out of school... I wanted to be home-schooled. My parents were and are full-time working Americans, they did what they could to contact the right people and get involved.

    Eventually I attempted suicide, I took enough pills to kill myself nine times over. A family member came home, found me and called 911. I went to the hospital, and 'rehab'.

    Long story short, I am so glad and happy that I am alive today. When I heard about the 15 year old girl that hung herself, I cried so hard for her loss of life, and also that was the age I attempted. I thought in the back of my head, "Man, I wish I knew her, wish I could tell her how beautiful and bright she is, and that taking her life is not the answer"

    I don't think signing a pact is going to help anything, If I signed a pact when I was younger, depression / suicidal thoughts will trump any 'signed contract'. I actually find that a joke. What schools need to do is have group sessions, discussions on bullying, depression, suicide prevention. Just making kids sign a piece of paper, is a joke to me. Signing of the pact isnt enough, it appears they are just scooting the dirt underneath the rug.
    Teachers, administration and parents need to get more involved. These kids need to understand that their life has so much more to it, so much living left to do.

    Also a side note, most of all the kids that use to make fun of me, I never saw again after grade school and when I did see them, they never really advanced in life, so what comes around, goes around.

    Love life!

    March 30, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  100. adamjones

    DUH why didn't CNN ask the parent of the
    children to sign an "ANTI BULLY" form or contract?

    March 30, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  101. mr. evans

    I really don't understand why you would want a 9yr old to sign a form unless you were teaching on the subject of how to properly sign a contract. With the overcrowding of schools the teachers really don't have the 1on1 time w/students like when i was growing up, also most teachers don't know how to recognize the tell tell signs of a dishovled student. There are so many diffrent things going on in this world today that, if you don't know the signs of, depression, anti-socializim,socialpath, and other signs of unhappiness there will continue to be these type of problems

    March 30, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  102. Charley Twodogs

    This problem has been in Americas' schools for many decades. The social mentality has never evolved to the better virtues of life. Although many people have written books and music explaining that a sharing and caring society, is more harmonious than a society based on competition and wealth. Children are always caught in the "crossfire" of most deep underlying problems of a nation. This report only brings this to the forefront of media, again.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  103. Trip Williams

    Typical, blame the victim...

    March 30, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  104. sal signorelli

    no contract;s jail,jail these kids who bully need to go to jail

    March 30, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  105. Albert Carnevale

    identify bully – obtain a 1 mile Restraining Order – which , in effect , will remove the bully from that school !!

    March 30, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  106. P.C.

    My daughter is being bullied and was choked by a boy last thursday, who left finger prints on her neck. When I went to speak with Principal she said no one witness that and my daughter should understand thats the way boys are and she should get used to it!!! I could not believe what I was hearing and told my daughter they are wrong, no one has the right to choke or hit her be it a boy or girl. I am so disgusted at the way the whole thing was handled.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  107. Bonnie

    No Contract. Catch the ones who are bulling the child. Give the bullers a special class to take & if that does not work, suspend or expel all of them.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  108. Carl

    I'm 62 years old. When I was in high school in the 60's, bullies got their butts whacked with a paddle by the Vice Principal! I think a growing "lack of consequences" for bad and irrational behavior feeds bullies' egos and when that happens, the kids/adults who are having emotional or self-esteem issues are the first to suffer and/or die.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  109. Sonia Gonzalez

    I'm just amazed at how little compassion can be shown by some of our public school officials. This is a little boy of 8, crying out for help and their solution is to further embarrass him. Was the bullying not enough for them to take action and be proactive instead of reactive? In my opinion, this district should be fully investigated, as I wonder how many more children attending their public schools are having trouble and they are doing nothing about it. I hope CNN does not drop this story and continues to report on it. Thanks.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  110. Anisa

    In some educational systems, a contract is recognized as a way to get the child to own up to their actions and it is highly effective. Take for example the Montessori system. But that's just a part of the education. Definitely not something that should be applied to leave the child alone afterwards.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  111. Gael

    Kyra:

    The no self harm notes are a common tool used in psychology/counselling. I am a psychologist and the agency I worked for until a month ago used them routinely. The research shows that over 80% of successful suicides happened WITH a non self harm note signed and in the file. They are basically an agency covering exercise and of no use to the suicidal. If they are 80%+ useless with adults, how much less help are they to a child?

    March 30, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  112. Tara

    Shame on you! In one segment you are rightly spotlighting a school for insisting that a child write a no suicide pact, when they should have dealt with bullying. Yet the young man who sent pictures of his naked girlfriend to everyone she knows, deserves a $25 dollar fine? You didn't ask about the impact this young mans actions had on the girl/victim in question! He did not give the impression of someone who was sorry for his actions. He just felt that we should feel sorry for him. Maybe if the girl had hung herself after the pictures were released, you would have treated this young man to some serious questions. Instead it looked like a love in. You should be ashamed of yourself!

    March 30, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  113. wade

    Why don't they find out why they try to commit suicide instead of punishing them by signing a worthless piece of paper! That really helps! If I was that bad off that I would commit suicide a piece of paper would not keep me from doing so. All that is is a way to make the people in charge fell they did what they needed to do to keep it from happening again.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  114. PGT

    Let me break this down for you: A school made a dyslexic child READ and SIGN a contract not to kill himself. I'm not going to insult anyone's intelligence and state the obvious... This school system is in desperate need of reform, health care is the last thing on my mind.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  115. Mandee

    This child does not need to sign a contract, he needs psychological intervention. What about the bullies? They are getting the ok to continue to bully other children. His parents should sue the bullies and the school district for the distress her child was put through. It is a crime for a 2nd grader to feel so scared that the only way he sees out is by killing himself.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  116. dennis

    You give the parents the ability to discipline how are parents were able to we wouldn't have half these problems. If you have to worry about second graders committing suicide how sad is this??? Why don't we just start emancipating these kids at 10 yrs old then. Where are the parents?? We have to be more involved and a lot stiffer in punishing on our own accord to do whats best for our children. NOT leave it up to everybody else to do so for us.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  117. RX100

    Wow. Just Wow. I can't believe this. 2nd graders, suicidal. I'm speechless. It's unbelievable that 2nd graders even know what suicide is. It seems that kids at earlier ages are getting more adult world knowledge.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  118. karen moss

    I am a school psychologist, who uses a No Harm to Self Contract with children and their parents. Its not as silly as it sounds. The contract is an attempt to form an alliance with a student. It is used to help students identify who they can turn to if they think of harming themselves and to assist them to recognize/acknowledge that there are people in the child's life who care about him/her and would want to listen and help if they only know that the child was hurting. The contract also forms a bond/promise between the child and adults who want to help. Kids know about breaking promises and they want to a person who keeps promises. When kids sign the contract, they agree to be honorable and ,it helps them to Stop and think before they act. Having said all this, it is the school psychologist who also makes the assessment if the threat of suicide is imminent or not. It s another ball game if the situation is urgent. In these cases, such as when there is a credible plan, use of a No THREAT TO SELF contract is NOT the way to go.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  119. sal signorelli

    i must say that this story really upset me this young girl had her whole life to live these kids who do this bully sh–t , need to see a real bully like maybe in a prison so they can see how it feels to be bullyed, like a program or some stiff penalty;s and maybe these kid;s will learn a lesson about some real bully;s

    March 30, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  120. Monika Lewis

    I find myself totally amazed at the lack of knowledge and information that many schools seem to poccess when it comes to the mental well
    being of our children.
    Sign a contract? Yeah, right. Scare the child some more. How about the bulliers? Where's there contract not to bully?
    Someone will take the fall for this, but the entire system is to blame!

    March 30, 2010 at 10:38 am |
  121. Suzanne

    No suicide contract is to limit school's responsibility. It is not protecting the boy from emotional pain and it is not providing an emotionally safe climate so that learning can take place. It focuses on the victim's behavior, not on zero tolerance for bullying, and not on appropriate coping skills to deal with bullying

    March 30, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  122. Bob

    Having had a teenager attempt suicide while in high school, I find the recommendation of a no suicide contract utterly rediculous. Those surrounding the cause of the event should be disciplined and held accountable. The child needs help and the school should be safe haven. In our case it was not other students but athletic coaches at a time when "the good old boy" system was the dominant force. My daughter was an accompished athelete. When high school came she excelled at tennis, golf, softball and basketball but the tennis coach's daughter also played. The coach was not a high school teacher as many are, so he felt insulated from any criticism. The rule being, no parents can speak to the coach. The coach publicly and privately humiliated her, completely destroying any confidence she had. She began cutting and cutting and cutting. Ultimately my straight A student ended up hospitalized for 2 months and finished her senior year in another town. Today, she's alive, wears over 200 scars from this time in her life and has no interest in sports. A smart kid with high ACT scores, she is due to graduate from college in the spring of 2010 with double majors. The coach, has since been celebrated for his understanding and caring of his players. Complaints have been buried – we've moved on and am happy she is alive and well. Parents beware of coaches, particularly those with their own kids on the team and those that are not held to a teacher's code of conduct. Sorry for the rant, this has changed our and our daughter's lives forever.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  123. Jessica

    I remember the first time I actually thoght about suicide. I was 15. I hadn't really thought about it before hand even though a girl at my middle school shocked our campus when she did it. If your kid is eight years old and thinking about suicide, its time to take him out of that school and not only enroll him in private school, but put him in therapy. Take a more active roll in children's futures. Don't expect the school to raise your children then get angry when they do a bad job.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  124. Suzanne

    No, an 8 year old should not even have to be educated about suicide. Instead, an 8 year old needs help in understanding what bullying is, that it is not to be tolerated, needs to learn constructive coping skills, and how to get help.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  125. Duane Crawford

    After hearing about the young child who commited suicide, I was saddened. As a retired Special Education teacher and one who has suffered from from suicidal impulses for years, I almost had to laugh. I have been asked many times to agree to such written/verbal contactsand find it absolutely rediculous and one more item on the list of thinggs that do not work for suicide. It misses the whole idea that when one is depressed enough (down in the muck, I call it), the only issue at hand is to end the pain. Contracts, thoughts of loved ones, sin, etc., ae simply irrelevant at such times. Even the professions that I work with, doubt even the empirical basis for such unfortunate and outdated notions.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  126. Jo Ann C

    This school is looney! This is just a CYA policy. They should be seeking the source of bullying and institute anti-bullying proactive programs and policies to prevent kids needing to feel like this. And teach the other kids to stand up to bullies. Physical, verbal and on-line abuse should never be tolerated.

    How many adult's mental issues or aggressions find their root as the victim or provider of bullying in school. Like domestic violence. Heck, look at grown ups today, shouting down legitimate discussions... effectively bullying any opposition who happens to be reserved and more rational.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  127. Barbara Johnson

    Blame, blame, blame...

    Why must one always look for 'blame' when things go wrong. That's it...just add a pile of negatives onto the disorganization current discontent which we currently face as a Nation. The teachers are to blame, the schools are to blame the Administration is to blame,..

    The leadership in any organization (family, schools, work, society, government)...is what sets the tone and creates effective functioning of all of the parts.

    Ask yourself where the dysfunction is...and make an effort to do something about it which changes the negative toward a positive direction.

    A little boy who states on a piece of paper (not 100 times on the chalkboard!)...that he will not harm himself...is farther ahead than most of the people in this list of responses. He is farther ahead because he is being taught (by someone) that HE needs to make a change. HE needs to be taught to cope. HE needs to learn as a young child that the world around him can be filled with dysfunction and he can remain strong and not buckle under to the negatives of life. It's called learning responsibility for one's life and behavior...

    It is never too soon to learn that...as is also evidenced by this list of comments.

    Barbara

    March 30, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  128. Homeless D in Atlanta

    This is the most insane idea I have ever heard of!!!!

    Please post the name of the town where this happened, so that people can avoid EVER going there!

    The teachers and school administrators who advocate this should be FIRED, and if the parents in this school district do not demand their firing, they should be ashamed.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  129. Pamela Burns PhD

    As an Educational Consultant and Advocate for Children in Public Schools (hired by parents to represent children having problems in school – from academic to social/emotional) for almost 25 years for those reading this here is free advice:
    If you are a parent whose child is being bullied, or punished (like writing I will not commit suicide 40 times on a blackboard), or made fun of by teachers/principals etc., and you have called the principal, guidance counselor or TALKED to someone at the without result know that the schools worst fear is the parent who puts the incident in writing. If there still is no response call your State Department of Education and ask for the Complaint area and repeat it again – including sending them a copy of your letter. Then you will see action. And remember: the school personnel act "en parentus locus" meaning as a parent. If they do something you don't agree with or harms your child PUT IT IN WRITING, call a meeting in writing and request the school personnel you want to attend. Writing is what they understand because their first interest is to protect the reputation and liability of the school not your child. Which is why they constantly blame the students (the victims) for their own responsibilities and failings.

    March 30, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  130. chris

    any staff at this school who were aware of this situation beforehand shall be dismissed with an unfavorable discharge. The entire scool situation is disgusting. We have young children being strip searched and comitting suicide and God knows what other injustices these school officials think they are free to do as they please, lucky for them this wasnt my child.

    March 30, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  131. Barbara Goodwin

    Does any of the new Legislation assist now retired and income
    frozen Grandparent who signed grand child student
    loan. Source is Sallie Mae. 35k

    Barbara Goodwin
    Massachusetts
    Independent

    March 30, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  132. Ol'Bob

    As someone who has raised a son with ADD and who was diagnosed with what is now called ADHD-PI in my early 40s, long after finishing graduate school, I strongly object to the schools characterizing ADHD as a disability and I strongly object to the psychiatric community calling it a disorder.

    ADHD has been tied to specific genetic differences found in 5 to 8 percent of all populations that have been studied. It goes across all races and ethnicities. It is not a disorder, it is a difference. Just like having green eyes, red hair, or white skin are differences, not disorders. I'm so pale I wear a long sleeve shirt over SPF 75 sun block when I go to the beach. Do I have melanin deficiency disorder (MDD)? Should I be forced to take drugs to fix that disorder? Or can you folks who tan just accept the fact that it is normal for some people to get sun burns if we don't take proper precautions?

    I feel fortunate to have gotten through school before ADHD was identified. I was just called lazy and encouraged to work harder. The kids that show up in my classes have been told since they were as young as 4 years old that they are disabled, that they can't learn, that they should not expect to get anywhere in life. This is crime being committed by our public schools against 5 to 8 percent of all our children.

    Why do we stand for it? Can we afford to just throw away 5 to 8 percent of our children?

    So, is this just horribly off topic? The child in the original story has dyslexia. Why does this matter in the context of the story? It doesn't matter. The school will print the contract on colored paper in a font that helps Dyslexics read. They will most likely also read the contract to the student. Many posters assumed that the student can not read because he has Dyslexia. All the Dyslexics I know can read just fine. What matters is that an 8 year old child does not have the mental ability to give informed consent. Of course, they were not making the contract an option, they were forcing the child to sign it. No contract signed under duress is a valid contract even if the person signing it is an adult. The fact that the kid has dyslexia has nothing to do with anything in this story. But, it there front and center. because suddenly you are picking on a "disabled kid".

    Ol'Bob

    March 30, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
  133. Garry L. Earles, LICSW

    CNN BLOG POST OF MARCH 30, 2010

    Let's get real here... in mental health "behavioral contracts" are often seen as standard operating procedure.. that somehow if a client signs a contract to "NOT" do something that then they, DUH, will not do it! Do you all see the fallacy of that?? IF (and that's a big if) I had the ability (i.e. cognitive, emotional, behavioral) to NOT do (or DO do) something then I'd just do it. If it were that simple I sure wouldn't need a contract. These types of gimmicks are rampant in mental health practice, mostly because managed care wants quick, simple solutions to difficult problems and issues. Just because I sign a contract does not mean I can pull it off. Geeez.. wake up.

    In line with this is that educators are not, as I am, trained clinicians, yet they are expected to be, among all their other tasks, mental health workers. Tragically, they get little if any training in even basic child & adolescent mental health.

    If we continue to make schools mental health clinic annexes then we need to provide at least a modicum of training, support and personnel. Bullying, more than a behavioral ("kids behaving badly") issue is merely one of a myriad of mental health concerns that have an impact on our young people.

    We can no easier legislate "healthy mental health" via contracts or otherwise anymore than we can legislate at the state or federal level or with school policies, appropriate behavior with regard to bullying. There is no simple, let alone a quick, fix.

    My efforts are to work with educators to help them understand, appreciate and work with those students who are challenged by mental health conditions. With bullying that means victims, bystanders and yes, the bullies themselves. Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

    March 30, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  134. Bob B.

    What needs to happen is have the teacher and school sign a 'common sense' pact. I'd sue the hell out of 'em.

    March 30, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
  135. Chuck

    Administration is primarily the blame. They accuse teachers of not being able to manage their class if such problems are reported to them. Admnistrators are afraid of parents and cover up the problem is common practice. That no suicide contract had to have been known about and approved by the administration.

    Despite this teachers should continue to report to administration to point where administration is forced to act. Parents of the bullies need to be informed by the parents, even if administrators refuse to act. Teachers you have got to protect yourselves, because administrators will turn you over to the wolves if something tragic happens.

    A practicing teacher,
    Chuck

    March 30, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
  136. Diane Pfeffer

    Comments should be made by people who have been bullied or have witnessed bullying. The effects of it are devastating. It should be a criminal act. Torture is illegal in this country and what these victims go through is absolute torture. We should be trying to save lives in this country. Children should be protected at all costs. All children have the right to safety in our schools. All adults should have safety at work. Bullying has to be stopped.

    March 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  137. Paul So

    What baffled me is that the suicide pact was not only peculiar and uncomfortable but I see no practical benefits with it whatsoever since it does not guarantee that the child would not harm himself after signing the pact. To sign a pact requires the subject to be capable of mature judgment and decision-making, but second-graders generally do not have not reached that maturity (unless some of them are precocious). Also there are no negative reinforcements or positive reinforcements that may alter his behavior. Most importantly, the source of the problem is not the child who attempts to commit suicide, the obvious sources are the bullies who deserve to be reprimanded and punished. I think they should be expelled or suspended, or be immediately moved to another school so the child is safe. Also, these bullies need counselors to understand the root of their tendency to hurt someone.

    Bullying is a serious problem, and anyone who dismisses it as "child's play" should think again; Bullying represents the worst in human species, it is a miniature, but serious, version of oppression, marginalization, and exploitation. Bullying is either instrumental or an end in itself (sadism), and it needs to be dealt with or else fail to be thorough with Justice.

    March 30, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  138. marcAntoan

    Isn't it a shame to see the way children and teens relate in school for the last 50 years and yet no one does anything about it?
    Why are we so afraid to fight skepticism? Is this just because we feel incapable to know what happens after this life, and how awful it is to get a penalty that is a lot worse then to stay here and grow?
    You know that 90% of all suicide is caused by skepticism and lack of information about life after death, don't you?
    Better we all know and do something about it. There are lots of sources to work and find solutions in this world.
    Let's do something that involves our families.

    March 30, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  139. John Tyler Erie, Pa

    My youngest daughter went to a private school and was bullied. Then I moved her to a different private school and the bullying continued. She was the shortest student in her class and I think this made her more vulnerable. This continued from the 4th through the 7th grade. In the 7th grade the bullying turned into sexual harassment. I confronted the principle and the guidance counselor at both schools and they suggested I put her in counseling which I did. Neither school sent suggested sending the bullies to counseling. In both cases the principles would not confront the students doing the bullying since their parents contributed heavily to the school and were upstanding people in society. So the problem exists in both public and private schools. At the time they move my daughter to a different class instead of breaking up the bullies, I felt sorry for their new victim. Looking back I regret not going to higher authorities but both schools were known for the high quality of education. My daughter went on to an all girls high school then away to college and now has more friends than ever. She is very popular now but her childhood was a real mess for 4 years.
    I feel sorry for the children and the parents that now face the same situation. This is almost like our criminal justice system where the victim has no rights and the perpetrators are protected because they are innocent until proven guilty. They schools for some reason do not take this as a serious problem and continually ignore it.

    March 31, 2010 at 8:04 am |
  140. Dennis Linville

    sure and if he breaks the pact ground him! come on people wake up!drugs and gangs are controling and destroying our schools.bullying goes totally ignored until the child being abused fights back in some way. then they want to punish everyone.
    So called adults should be ashamed for one to let the school systems to get in this kind of shape and two to turn a blind eye and sweep it under the rug as I know they will as soon as it doesnt make news ratings

    March 31, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  141. Burt Friedman

    KYRA, on your article about the raping of women and girls as a game for these sorry individuals, all i can say is they need to be more like me and listen to some good Blues and of course some GRATEFUL DEAD and maybe play some solitaire. It just goes to show the path we are taking in the world of cyber space with these deranged folks!!!

    March 31, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  142. joe

    i am in 10th grade and when i see bullying i stop it. i dont understand why other kids want to watch some one be emotionally tortured. but also i blame the school, teachers should be aware what going on and stop it then and there. i dont want these kids growing up finding it acceptable that kids will just be kids because sure they will be kids but its the adult jobs to correct what the kids do wrong.

    March 31, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  143. Cjay

    All this suicide/bullying stuff is sad and it makes entertaining television, but seriously instead of sitting around looking for "solutions" to things that are just part of society...my dogs bully each other...

    How about you teach your kids to stand up for themselves.

    Its so sad that the girl that committed suicide was treated like that for days on end, but if someone had taught her to punch one of those chicks in the face the first time they disrespected her we wouldn't be talking about this right now.

    She kept it all inside and no one knew, but guess what if she had fought for herself parents would have been called to the school and everyone would have known that there was a bullying issue going on.

    Whats a couple of days suspension to years of self-loathing and depression. Everyone gets bullied at some point in life, you have to decide if your going to let it happen or do something about it. A lot of kids these days have been nurtured and taught to just let it happen.

    March 31, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  144. Sheena

    Something should absolutely be done about this Bullying.
    Most Teachers just dont listen or stop this, and children are out of control these days, and this leads to someone dying over it.
    Parents should have their authority back to reprimend their children, and I dont mean beating them. An Old fashioned spanking would do to show the children right from wrong, the threats by the children they will tell their teachers, just gives these kids the right to do whatever they want and what we are seeing is children out of control, that are quickly turning into criminals.
    Also Parents need to be home for their children and know what they are doing at all times, which don't happen to much these days.
    Kids are mostly left to fend for themselves.
    Teachers should listen to children when they say someone is bullying them, and do something about it, instead of brushing it off as nothing.
    These poor kids that have to endure this can only take so much, and letting it happen is a crime in itself.
    I am glad the kids that bullied that 15 year old girl to the point of suicide are going to be punished. More of this should happen and we would have less innocent kids lost.

    March 31, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  145. Angie

    A victim of bullying forced to sign a suicide pact.

    Will that suicide pact stop the bullying. NO!

    Will that suicide pact punish those doing the bullying. NO!

    Will that suicide pact make the victims life any better with more bullying being ignored by the school. NO!

    How about the school being charged with aiding and abbetting the bullying which is causing students to try suicide?

    March 31, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  146. Angie

    sorry I meant
    No-suicide pact

    March 31, 2010 at 11:29 am |
  147. J

    I think schools, as well as the Pope, need to take responsibility for turning their heads when they've been informed of problems.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  148. Kathryn M.

    The parents of children who bully should be held accountable legally and financially for the mis-deeds of their children. If the school will not step up and protect a vulnerable child from being bullied the school district should be sued.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  149. tony ash

    I would be happy to tell you what the school is not telling CNN ABOUT THIS ISSUE. i HAVE A FAMILY OF 5 AND TOOK ALL MY KIDS OUT AT ONE TIME BECAUSE OF BULLING.

    April 1, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  150. Rigoberto Mediavilla

    Clear case of sending the wrong message to the victim.
    And NO message to the perpetrator.

    April 2, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  151. Barbara Johnson

    Rogoberto! Why is STARTING with letting a child no that self-harm...doesn't solve problems?

    For all of you who are vehemently against communicating with a child/adolescent/adult...that SELF/HARM isn't an answer...think again.

    You are all skipping to the bullier...the teacher...the school...the counselor...the mayor...the governor...the world...for the solution to the FACT that a child/adolescent...has it in his/her head that suicide or other self harm is ok!!

    Those are separate problems...you don't know what steps were taken...You don't know what was said or done. Bullying behavior is a problem which is also one which needs to be addressed. But it isn't and 'either or' problem in this situation.

    Bulliers need discipline and intense correction starting at home. If they get to 2nd grade or older...and they have been allowed to be destructive to other people...they are in deep trouble.

    Our Society shows that it is ok to bully people on reality shows and in contests...particulary 'POLITICAL CONTESTS" which permeate the news media 24/7. Why would anyone think children would be confused about their own behavior toward others? People get lots of money for bullying!! They get their faces on TV for bullying!

    It is the old' "Get your own house in order"...before you start mud slinging toward others." There have been people on here who say.
    "They are lucky it wasn't MY kid"...Well now...THAT IS A BULLIER SPEAKING!!

    i have never seen so many people following in the negative footsteps of others...afraid of integrity, decency and kindness. FEAR is the basis for bullying...Why are so many people so afraid? Look into the mirror and try to figure it out!!

    Barbara

    April 2, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  152. Barbara Johnson

    Also: Those of you who describe your first action as 'MOVING MY CHILD FROM THIS SCHOOL'...are teaching your child that it is okay to run away from controversey...stick your head in the sand...join Sarah Palin's buddies...those who are fearful and hateful and think the world should run just as they see it...without anyone else's participation.

    I repeat: Change and strength...comes from within us...not by changing everything around us. We need all kinds of support to do that, but when we do...we don't grow up filled with fear, anger and hate toward everthing in our way...and BECOME A BULLY!!

    b.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:13 am |
  153. Mary

    Sign a no sucidie pact you're kidding right. What the heck is that . its time that these bullies pay for their action when they go to jail they are going to know exactly how it feels to be bullied. Good luck in jail for all those who get caught

    April 3, 2010 at 8:41 am |