Report: No Link With Bullying And Anoka Suicides

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Administrators of Minnesota’s largest school district say they’ve found no evidence that bullying pushed six students to commit suicide in the past 15 months, contradicting an often-made claim.

Anoka-Hennepin School District officials tell Minnesota Public Radio News that their findings were based on conversations with teachers, parents and others who knew the students.

“Based on all of the information we’ve been able to gather, none of the suicides were connected to bullying or harassment,” said Superintendent Dennis Carlson in a voicemail sent to staff.

It has been alleged at recent school board meetings that district employees stood by while a student was bullied, but Carlson says there’s no proof of that.

Carlson said he sent the message because the notion that bullying was the only cause of some of the suicides was being taken as fact, citing two recent newspaper editorials he’s seen.

“To jump to simple conclusions, I think, is a real mistake,” he said. “And to blame us for those simple conclusions is something that is very hurtful to our staff when we’re working so hard to keep kids alive.”

At least one grieving mother disagrees with the district’s conclusion.

Tammy Aaberg’s son, Justin, who was gay, killed himself this past summer. She can’t say for sure that bullying caused Justin to hang himself, but she said she knows Justin was bullied. Aaberg wants the district to change its policies to make it a more inviting place for all students.

“So many kids have come to me on Facebook that aren’t even in the district anymore, that have dropped out or are in alternative schools — that have been bullied and they didn’t do anything,” she said of staff.

Carlson said suicide is an issue that requires mental health resources, and there aren’t enough for children. But he also said schools can’t be expected to be the only institutions addressing the issue of youth suicide.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. Paul says:

    Rob, you obviously have never been bullied or seen what goes on in some of today’s schools. Yes, bullying occurs and in a lot of cases administration does nothing to stop it. With little protection from the bullying many kids see no reasonable escape. So yes, schools that don’t protect students from bullying are very uninviting to victims of bullying.

    1. Meg says:

      Well said Paul! I couldn’t agree more. I was appalled at what Rob had to say. The horrible things that some kids have to deal with in school has NOTHING to do with how they were raised. Perhaps, Rob, you should be criticizing the parenting skills of the parents whose kids are doing the bullying.

  2. Lucy says:

    Amen Meg!! I think the same way you two do! I myself was heavily bullied in school, from about 3rd or 4th grade up until my junior year. It wasn’t until my senior year that things started getting better for me.
    I think that the parents of the kids doing the bullying have to stop being ostriches and sticking their heads in the sand about what their children are doing to someone else’s child.
    Most of the time the school had done nothing at all to help me. Teachers would step in when and where they could, but they couldn’t be there for me all the time.

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