• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Bullying sign of antisocial behavior

October 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The mood was decidedly somber Tuesday at Vasquez High School in Acton as students mourned the death of a 14-year-old classmate who committed suicide in response to being bullied and teased at school. Jeramiah Lassater, 14, was a starter on the junior varsity football team. He was a tall kid over 6 feet -- and a special needs student. Fellow students say he was often the victim of bullying. Even on the day he took his own life.

"He was actually at school the day of the incident. He was having food thrown at him in the food line. And one of the kids that was here stood up for him and basically told the other kids throwing things and told them off. He told them to stop," said student, Paige Cummings.

Experts say targets of bullying often feel they have no one to turn to, and often the end result of bullying can be catastrophic. Dr. Nandi Chenik is a psychiatrist in Beverly Hills.

"I've seen children as young as 7 through 13 who are not only suicidal, but homicidal is the result of bullying by others. It leaves them no place to go," said Dr. Chenik.

Chenik says there are many reasons kids bully, and sometimes the culprits have been victim themselves.

"In some cases it's an attempt to have power to prove themselves better than another child. In many cases it's because they were bullied. And often times the parents condone it," said Dr. Chenik.

Some parents at Vasquez High School say bullying is a big problem that needs to be taken seriously.

"I have a special needs daughter that's also in the school district. She's supposed to be here at this high school. And we won't allow her to come here because we just don't think it's safe," said parent, Lisa Alonso. "If they can't control the bullying and the picking on at the elementary schools or the junior high school, I can't have her come here."

And Dr. Chenik says there are warning signs that can indicate to parents their child has been the target of bullies.

"Several studies in the last years have shown that on any one particular day over 160,000 children will skip school due to bullying. Truancy is the largest sign," said Dr. Chenik.

Dr. Chenik says one of the best ways to prevent bullying in school -- is for the school administration to circulate an anonymous questionnaire to the students to find out where and when the bullying is taking place and who is most at risk.


- Get more L.A. breaking news, weather, traffic and sports
- Have a news tip? Send your tips, video, or pictures


Load Comments