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Mother who says son was bullied seeks Obama's help

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Mom takes bullying fears to Obama
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mother says her daughter also has been bullied
  • Masika Bermudez says she wrote a letter to the president
  • She says her son complained about bullying before he killed himself
  • 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera was found dead in his closet in April
RELATED TOPICS
  • Bullying
  • Barack Obama
  • Georgia

(CNN) -- The mother of an 11-year-old boy who hanged himself after allegedly being bullied at a Georgia school says her daughter also has been a victim of taunting.

Masika Bermudez-Carrasquillo, who Friday asked the White House for help in a campaign to end school bullying, said her daughter, 12, was also recently harassed by a boy who kept referring to her dead brother.

The boy was disciplined but still taunted the girl before he was suspended and his mother withdrew him from a middle school, she said.

Since then, the boy's mom has failed to meet with her, Bermudez said. "I guess she doesn't care."

The mother, who wrote a letter to President Barack Obama about bullying, held a news conference Friday to ask for help.

Jaheem Herrera was found dead in his closet in April.

"Til this day, I live with that memory of seeing my son hanging in the closet; my daughters are so hurt too," Bermudez wrote in the letter.

Bermudez told CNN that Jaheem, a fifth-grader, had been complaining about bullying at Dunaire Elementary School in DeKalb County. Bermudez said that at the time, she did not know that the bullying had gotten so bad. Friday, she indicated Jaheem once passed out after boys put him in a sleeper hold at the school.

Administrators and others won't take responsibility for this and other incidents at the school, she said.

"I feel like I failed him," Bermudez said of Jaheem. "I can't get justice. A year has passed, and they keep denying it."

Her letter asked for assistance from the White House.

"Mr. President, bullying is still an issue here in Georgia, and all over the United States. Our children are dying, because they think this is the only way out. I think parents and administrators should be held accountable for the safety problems in the nation's classrooms," Bermudez said.

She says her son's case helped to get a new anti-bullying law passed in Georgia. The law, which pushes schools to aggressively investigate bullying incidents and provide counseling to victims, is scheduled to go into effect in 2011.

But Bermudez said more needs to be done.

"No other parent should feel the pain I feel. Mr. President, I need your help," she wrote. "It is my hope that you hear my plea and join the campaign for Justice for Jaheem."

Families of bullying victims should be able to file federal lawsuits against local officials and parents of those who bully, she said.

Gerald Rose, who heads the nonprofit New Order National Human Rights Organization, said the type of discipline that might prevent bullying needs to begin at the home. "We need to get justice for this mom," Rose said.

CNN's Max Newfield contributed to this report.

 
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