Child Suicide on-school grounds shows lack of accountability of school and parents

As it is often the case, we spend more time trying to find others to blame for something that went wrong instead of trying first to find out where we, as individuals, went wrong.  While filing lawsuits may correct the behavior in some, it only fuels the many and makes us even more determine to not first look to ourselves for an answer but depend even more on the answers to come from others.  While the below article is a sad time for all of us that breath air it is also a lesson on how we can begin to correct this problem if we could only see deeper into that image that stares back at us in a mirror.

The article is titled “Parents sue Florida school district over bullied son's suicide” written by Tiffany Walden for the Orlando Sentinel.  It is a story about a complete failure on all parts which resulted in a young life being extinguished but it is also a story about a young life making a serious choice and while we mourn this young life we should also celebrate his heroism.

The article reports; “Lamar Hawkins III, of Sanford, killed himself Sept. 10, 2014 with his father's gun in a bathroom stall at Greenwood Lakes Middle School in Lake Mary.  Attorney Matt Morgan said Lamar went missing for hours and school officials didn't look for him— even after another student found a spent gun shell casing in the school's bathroom and reported it to a teacher.  Lamar's family reported him missing after his mother went to the school to pick him up about 5 p.m. and he was nowhere to be found. Deputies found Lamar in the bathroom with a gunshot wound to his head about 11 p.m.  Lamar's family is suing the Seminole County School Board, alleging negligent supervision, negligent failure to adequately discipline bullies and negligent failure to supervise and account for Lamar's absence before his death. "He took his life at school to send a message, and the message was clear," Morgan continued: "'These bullies drove me to this point so I will commit this act on school grounds so that they know they did this to me.”  to his father, Lamar Hawkins Sr.  A report released by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office in February said the boy's father, Lamar Hawkins Sr., kept the 40-caliber pistol locked in a gun box in his bedroom closet.  The day Lamar shot himself; his father mistakenly grabbed his wife's keys when he left the house — leaving the key to the gun box at home.  After dozens of interviews, Sheriff's Office investigators found that Lamar and his twin sister were picked on and called names but that they were not physically harmed except for a lunchroom fight two days before Lamar's suicide involving Lamar and another student”.

Surely we can all understand why this was a failure on the school district and all involved when no real action was taken on the reports that they received.  Surely we can all agree that a search for a missing student and the report of a spent shell casing should have warranted a lock-down and a room to room search if nothing else.  Surely we can clearly see the fault which lays directly at the feet of those entrusted to with our children’s health and welfare on a daily basis but can we also see that this is a failure on the parents of this young life.  Can we agree that once it was made clear that these children were being bullied, mom and dad should have stepped up to the plate and discussed as well as educated their children on how to deal with a bully.  Can we see that dad’s idea to have a gun in the house should have lead him to educate and train all those living there on how to properly handle and respect that firearm.  Can we see that all had a hand in this result and as long as we focus on the failure of one, we lose focus on the failure of us all?

As a society, we have also failed and in part is responsible for this tragedy.  We failed to see that the actions of this young life were more than a suicide but a heroic act as well.  This young life made a decision not to make a statement as said by the lawyer but to take his own life instead of taking the life of another.  It can be safely assumed that he did not bring that firearm into the school to kill himself but possibly the bully and yet when he had that chance he chose to spare the life of the bully and took the only other way out he knew.  He was never educated on how not to allow the ignorance of another person to determine his next move and he was not educated on the many other options he had that would have stopped bulling in its tracks.  He was never equipped with that knowledge and so we failed him by not giving him those tools which left him with but two choices.  Take his life or take the life of another.  This hero chose to take his own and we are all lesser for it.

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