FOLSOM (CBS13) – It’s a story that is gaining national attention: A little boy cheerleader from Folsom took his own life, and his friends suspect bullying.
The story of 12-year-old Ronin Shimizu has sparked a huge reaction from many wondering how this could happen and what can be done to stop it from happening again.
We have had hundreds of people reaching out on Facebook and other social media just overwhelmed by how tragic this case seems to be. And with all the attention bullying has gotten in the past year, one expert says, we’re not there yet.
Shimizu was said to have been the only boy on the Folsom Valley Junior Eagles cheer team. And while he loved to cheer, “…people like would make fun of him,” said a friend.
Shimizu, who recently left Folsom Middle School to be homeschooled, committed suicide this week.
Family, Friends Remember 12-Year-Old Boy Who Committed Suicide
“Despite a lot of pushing from state lawmakers and school districts, bullying continues,” said therapist Tom Orrock.
Orrock is a licensed therapist and helps children being bullied. We wanted to know with so much attention to bullying why it continues?
“The problem is with intervention. You can have a policy up on the shelf, but what is going to be done if someone is chronically bullying somebody?” said Orrock.
Orrock says he noticed school leaders across the area have been slow to react to complaints and social media makes it harder to witness.
“I think stricter penalties would be a good idea if it’s found there wasn’t enough done here,” said Orrock.
Today a Folsom Cordova School District spokesperson told us previous complaints by Shimizu’s parents were handled properly, but they were reviewing the situation. They would not tell us how the complaints were handled.
“It wasn’t a place I called enjoyable,” said former Folsom Middle School student Ernesto Martinez.
Martinez paid homage to Shimizu and claimed he was bullied at Folsom Middle School as well.
“I talked to my principal; I talked to the administration multiple times; my parents came in almost once a month to talk to them about what was going on, and the worst part was that the administration didn’t do anything,” said Martinez.
While the district reviews its actions, many also wanted to know if the bullies themselves could be charged.
“There’s no crime for bullying in the state of California. To be a crime, you really need to be committing violence, or potentially a threat of violence,” said juvenile attorney Kevin Adamson.
Adamson says while name calling and the like is against education code, beyond that it’s likely free speech.
You could also potentially file a civil suit against the parents of someone who is doing bullying if the parents knew the bullying was going on and failed to do anything about it.
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