I posted the story on my blog once before about the time I was a mascot for one of my high school basketball games. My sister was Claudia the Cougar — this was back in the days when Cougar meant cougar, not predatory older female — and I was Clyde the Cougar. I remember how fun it was being in that costume during the game, but I also remember that I didn’t tell any of my friends that it was me because I didn’t want to seem, you know, gay.
Ronin Shimizu, a 12-year-old Folsom, California boy never felt that way; he was the only male cheerleader with the Vista Junior Eagles Cheer Team; he was a member of the drama club, a Boy Scout, just a boy who took his own life last week after being bullied for being a cheerleader.
For being a cheerleader.
And before he killed himself, Ronin endured insufferable bullying, that became so intolerable that his parents actually removed him from school and homeschooled their son. That just makes me shake my head, in wonder and sadness and anger; Ronin was the victim who was removed from school while the bullies continued on their merry way.
Another thing that makes me angry is that both Folsom Middle School and the Folsom-Cordova School District confirm that they received a number of complaints from Ronin’s parents about the bullying, but maintain they followed protocol. Daniel Thigpen, Public Information Officer for the Folsom Cordova School says the incidents were handled; to which I say, not very well because now a boy is dead.
Here’s how the incidents should be handled: the bullies are removed from the school, not the victim. Why was Ronin forced to leave school but those little monsters who tortured him because, Jesus Christ, he loved to cheer, are still allowed to get up every day and go to school with their friends and, of this I’m certain, find a new target to bully? Why?
And why does Daniel Thigpen say this:
“Any allegations bullying related to this specific incident, we’re certainly reviewing how we responded to those and we’ll use that as an opportunity to always take a look at how we respond to future allegations.”
Oh, so now you’re going to look into how you respond the allegations of bullying? Now? Now that Ronin Shimizu is dead and people are questioning your ALLEGED anti-bullying campaign, now you’re looking into it.
Too late; too late for Brandon and Danielle Shimizu who released this statement about their boy:
The tragic loss of our son has and will forever change our life. The love and support that we received from family, friends and the Folsom community has been immeasurable and words cannot begin to express our gratitude through this most difficult grieving process.
The people close to our family know exactly who Ronin was, but since the story of this tragedy has spread worldwide, we want to take a minute to let the world know who he was.
Ronin was one of the most loving, compassionate, empathetic, artistic and funny kids to grace this earth. Ronin was a child who was not afraid to follow his heart, and we as his parents did everything in our power to allow him to pursue his passions, while protecting him from the minority that could not understand the specialness he possessed.
As you already know, Ronin loved to do Cheer, but he also loved art, fashion, being a Scout and most recently crew/rowing. It is true that because of his specialness, Ronin was a target of bullying by individuals that could not understand or accept his uniqueness.
Ronin was not just a target of bullying because of his participation in cheer, but for him just being Ronin. We as his parents always knew that he would make an impact on the world, we just thought it would be in something like fashion design or art related. We had no idea that God and Buddha had a more important role for him, and we as his parents will make it our mission in life to turn this tragedy into something positive and hopefully prevent another senseless tragedy.
In closing, please remember that education in regards to bullying prevention does not only need to occur in our schools but also in the home.
Why should any parent ever have to release a statement thanking people for supporting them in the grieving of their son’s suicide because of bullying?
It’s time for real Zero Tolerance; you bully, you’re out.
Why should there ever be one more?