Bullying is unacceptable–and is often not taken seriously enough. While it seems like it’s just something all kids go through, the affects of bullying can have traumatic and lasting effects. Recently, a 12-year-old Evan Ziemniak committed suicide as a result of bullying. The 6th grader was from Pittsburgh–his grandmother stated this death “was his response to stop the pain.”
On March 23, Evan Ziemniak hanged himself. His tragic death is said to have occurred after his classmates at West Allegheny Middle School bullied him for months–usually pushing, shoving, and stabbing him with their pencils aboard the school’s bus, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. His heartbroken father, Matt Ziemniak, told the newspaper how they want to raise awareness in order to help other kids who become depressed as a result of bullying:
“I will tell you that this story will eventually become bigger than just West Allegheny School District. The implications are more far-reaching and the issues that need to be discussed and addressed are not unique to our school district.
Dana and I are prepared to do what is necessary to make sure other parents do not have to face the worst tragedy a parent could ever face.”
The bullying was not a secret–his parents told school officials many times about bullying by other middle schoolers, which prompted the district to start its “safe and supportive school program” in early March. The school released a statement regarding Evan’s death:
“The West Allegheny School Board, superintendent, administration and staff are deeply saddened by the news, and we extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathy to the family. They are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.”
The school also hosted a prayer walk at the school in his honor on March 26, which drew hundreds from around the area. Apparently, Evan loved his pet cats and rabbits, collected coins, played video games, and enjoyed learning about the Civil War–a tribute website has been made on the website of the Thomas-Little Funeral Service, which illustrated how beloved he was:
“I work at the school and I always will remember Evan’s face lighting up when he would talk about old electronics and history.”
“He was so passionate about older things and I loved that about him. He has now earned wings and happy looking at all the historical things heaven has to offer.”
What needs to be said, however, isn’t just how tragic his death is. Because adults and kids alike understand that any death is tragic, but especially in this case where a child has taken his own life. Bullying absolutely needs to be dealt with by administrators and teachers at school seriously–and in a way where the answer isn’t simply a school-wide lecture–it needs to be taught and enforced every day. Otherwise, children won’t understand not only how bullying is hurtful, but won’t understand how to ask for help before it’s too late.