The parents of a Long Island teen are speaking out about the bullying their 13-year-old son endured that they say led the young boy to develop an eating disorder and depression.
The parents say their son was a happy and healthy seventh grader at Garden City Middle School. The straight-A student was thrilled when he made the soccer team, but that excitement quickly faded and the abuse from other players began.
The teen spent the entire year of seventh grade being taunted by other students, who made fun of this freckles, eyebrows, and socks.
The players berated his playing ability, telling him he should never have made the team because he wasn’t good enough. The boy’s father described the bullying as methodical and deliberate.
As the school year progressed, the parents noticed their son becoming more withdrawn, often wanting to stay home from school. He stopped playing soccer, a game he adored. Then he stopped eating.
Despite his parents’ pleas to find out if anything was wrong, he kept insisting everything was fine. One day, he came home with a large bruise on his face. The bruise had happened when he was pushed inside a locker. He finally broke down and told his parents all of the bullying he had experienced the entire school year.
The young victim was soon hospitalized. The doctors diagnosed him with malnutrition, low heart rate, and depression. He was placed on a feeding tube. He spent a month in the hospital receiving treatment.
Eighth grade began last month, and the parents thought their son was going to be able to put last year behind him. But the bullying began again, and he was assaulted in the school’s locker room. The young victim ended up back in the hospital.
Despite bringing their concerns to the school regarding the abuse their son has suffered, the Garden City Middle School and the school district claim it could not substantiate the reports.
When word got out into the community about what happened, the high school soccer team presented the boy and his parents with a soccer ball and two team jerseys. The players say they want the victim to return and play on the high school team when he is ready.
The community has hung orange balloons throughout the town and students have been wearing orange shirts in support of the victim and his family.
Upon hearing of the case, Attorney Neal Goldstein commented, “It is horrible what this young boy must have endured all year to end up so sick. I am appalled that the school district is not moving forward and punishing the students who are responsible for this. That is just an unacceptable response from a school when one its students have been relentlessly harassed and abused for so long.”
Goldstein and Bashner