Farmingdale, Long Island student Austin Schneiderman, 16, who was relentlessly bullied for three years by multiple students, has agreed to an undisclosed sum of money from the district for its failure to protect him and take reasonable steps to stop to the bullying.
Here is a short listing of just some of the alleged incidents, which started in 2010 when Schneiderman was in sixth grade and attended Weldon E. Howitt Middle School in Farmingdale, NY:
- Face smashed into bleachers
- Held in a headlock and punched
- Head forced between bus seats as he was punched in stomach and face
- Punched so hard in the abdomen that he had blood in his urine
- Arms lacerated from repeated pencil stabbings
- Frequently punched in the face, stomach, arms and legs
- Spit on and sucker-punched in the face
- Verbally abused
Austin’s family made continuous pleas to the school to help with the bullying that was taking place. Austin wrote in a journal for his English class, “I feel like everyone hates me…and that I don't have friends that I can trust anymore so this is the real me. You might think I'm nice and happy because I talk a lot and I smile. I just do that so people don't make fun of me and see who I really am on the inside. I have a book at home of all the times I got bullied and some of my thoughts were suicide.”
Despite calls to the superintendent and talks with teachers, the Schneidermans allege little was done and the bullying continued. Wrote Austin, “I used to be happy to be me, but the bullies make me feel different. I tried to commit suicide to escape all this pain at school, but I failed, and planned to try again on Christmas Day 2011. I think I’m still here today because my mom refused to let me go.”
Feeling helpless, the family turned to our law firm. “Teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors knew about the problems going on but failed Austin and did not do nearly enough to stop the relentless bullying,” said partner Neal Goldstein. “Austin’s journal helped illustrate for the court how the years of being picked on and tormented caused not just physical pain but emotional injuries. These are just as serious and when proven are absolutely as compensable as physical injuries.”
“We hope cases like this one help other families realize that there is recourse against schools that turn a blind eye to the very serious problem of bullying. No child should fear riding a school bus or going to class. Our firm has put numerous articles and other free resources on our website to help parents in these situations. The fact that we get so many calls from around the country shows just how widespread the problem of bullying really is.” Meanwhile, Austin now wants to help other bullied children and is looking for volunteer mentoring and other opportunities to share his experiences.