Earlier this week, the parent's of 8-year-old Gabriel Taye filed a suit against Cincinnati Public Schools for the wrongful death of their child on January 26th. Also in the suit are allegations that the School District has previously covered up at least 14 incidents of bullying, including Gabriel's, just this last school year. Named in the suit, are Cincinnati Public Schools recently retired superintendent Mary Ronan, as well as the principal Ruthenia Jackson and assistant principal Jeffrey McKenzie of Carson Elementary. Both Jackson and McKenzie have since left the elementary school.

School failing to protect students

Released in May, a video from the security camera posted outside a bathroom at Carson Elementary shows the final act of bullying suffered by Gabriel Taye who hung himself in his home just two days later.

In the video, Taye is pulled head first into the bathroom wall where he remains unconscious for several minutes while more than a dozen students walk by him. Some students kicked or poked the boy until the assistant principal arrived seven minutes later.

Gabriel's mother, Cornelia Reynolds, claims that no one informed her of the assault when she arrived to pick up her son. Rather the nurse had told her that Gabriel fainted. Later that day (Jan 24th) Taye was hospitalized over night due to stomach complaints and returned to school on the 26th. That evening, Gabriel committed suicide.

This event might be the first suicide at Carson Elementary, but it is only one of many incidents of bullying recorded this year. Outlined in the lawsuit are 14 instances of violence reported by other parents or by the schools "behavior logs" which notes bullies are throwing chairs, pushing, choking or threatening other students during the 2016-2017 academic year.

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Yet the school itself only listed four instances of bullying. It appears that the school repeatedly covered up or downplayed acts of bullying.

Bullying statistics

Despite a decrease of about 8% from 2005, bullying is still a prevalent issue affected nearly 1 in 5 students nation wide according to the National Bullying Prevention Center. Unsurprisingly, victims of bullying are at an increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. Propagators are similarly at a higher risk for academic difficulties, and behavior issues as well as substance abuse and violent behavior later in life. This means that neither side benefits and both schools and students are suffering lasting consequences.

The events of January 26th could have easily been prevented had the school intervened or informed the Family of the bullying. This failure, as well as the previous negligence of Carson Elementary and Cincinnati Public Schools to prevent bullying, has finally resulted in legal action. In the wake of this tragedy, hopefully, preventative measures will be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of students going forward.