A Farmingdale, Long Island teen is telling his story to the public in hopes that it will help educate people about school bullying and the tragic effects it can have on the targeted victim.
In 2015, Austin Schneiderman, who is now 18-years-old, settled a lawsuit with the Farmingdale School District for an undisclosed amount. The lawsuit detailed three years of relentless bullying Austin endured from other students and the school district’s total failure to protect him.
The bullying began in 2010 when he entered sixth grade at the Weldon E. Howitt Middle School in Farmingdale. He suffered repeated incidents of intimidation, harassment, punching, kicking, and spitting. He once was even punched so hard in his stomach that blood appeared in his urine.
The lawsuit describes how his arms sustained cuts from students repeatedly stabbing him with pencils. It also describes how students smashed his face into gym bleachers along with the constant barrage of punches to his face, stomach, and limbs. At one point, Austin went to the school officials and told them about the bullying. Those officials assured him they would protect him. Instead, six of his tormentors jumped and beat him.
He began keeping a journal, detailing the incidents he suffered and the emotional toll the bullying was taking. One day, his mother noticed he had a black eye and he finally shared with his parents what was happening to him. His parents also discovered that Austin was planning on committing suicide by hanging himself with one of his father’s ties.
His parents reached out to the superintendent of the school and many of his teachers, yet they still allowed the bullying to continue.
Austin and his family finally contacted Attorney Neal Goldstein who filed the lawsuit against the school district on Austin’s behalf. According to Attorney Goldstein, Austin’s journal revealed to the court just how much physical and emotional pain he suffered and that no one at the school stopped the bullying. “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 Goldstein.
Bullying has a severe impact on its victims. Victims receive lower grades and are absent from school an excessive amount. They often struggle with low self-esteem and depression. Many victims, like Austin, think that killing themselves is the only way to make the bullying stop. Tragically, far too many children succeed in taking their own lives when the school system fails to protect them.