Reporting Maurice DuBois
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.
One Orange County family says their son took his own life to escape vicious bullying. Now his parents are on a crusade, vowing to make a difference. They want a new anti-bullying law passed to protect other kids.
“We’re … we’re the victims, the ones that are left behind, ’cause we’re here suffering his loss,” Wanda Jacobsen told CBS 2’s Maurice DuBois.
For Wanda and Kevin Jacobsen the pain of their son’s suicide will never end. When they remember their son Kameron they can only ask “why?”
“Kameron was a great kid. He was loved by everybody who ever met him, I think, except those who bullied him,” Kevin Jacobsen said.
Until then, the 14-year-old was happy, starring in his brother’s home videos, playing baseball and always on the computer.
But what Kameron endured at the hands of bullies was horrific. They broke his jaw and constantly taunted him on- and off-line.
“He said, ‘the kids in school are picking on me. They shove me into lockers. They say all kinds of things to me, how little I am. They laugh at me,’ and he said, “I don’t wanna live like this, mom,’” Wanda Jacobsen said.
The Jacobsens said they asked their school district for help.
“We wanted to get the teachers involved without Kameron understanding what was happening. We wanted the teachers to quietly raise his self-esteem,” Kevin Jacobsen said.
But the situation ultimately got worse. Then, eight months ago, the Jacobsen’s world changed forever.
“He was in his room … and that’s where I found him. It was all in a matter of minutes. It … it went by so fast, so quickly,” Wanda Jacobsen said. “He … he took his life in his room.”
It wasn’t until after he died that the Jacobsens discovered the extent of Kameron’s online torment.
“I say my goodness the pain that I am in. How much pain were you in? Because I’m in so much pain and he must have been so hurt by people that he even called friends,” Kameron’s mother said.
Now, the Jacobsens don’t want anyone else to experience their loss. They are the force behind a proposed anti-bullying law in New York.
“We don’t want Kameron or any of these kids to have died in vain. We want society to recognize that there’s a problem,” Kevin Jacobsen said.
“All the kids who have died from all of this,” Wanda added.
If passed, the anti-bullying law will prohibit bullying on school property and educate teachers as well as students. New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal is behind the proposed legislation.
“It had been called harassment and discrimination but we broadened it to call it what it is — it’s bullying. Harassment can have many interpretations. If you say the word ‘bully,’ everybody understands that,” Rosenthal said.
New Jersey’s tough anti-bullying law took effect this month.
“I don’t look at it as a burden because at the end of the day we are responsible for the health and well being of our kids,” said Dr. Joseph Ricca, the superintendent of the East Hanover School District, which recently partnered with Crime Stoppers to put an end to bullying.
And that’s what the Jacobsens said they are hoping for.
“We are the face of the extreme. Kameron’s dead,” Kevin said.
“We miss him. We miss him terribly. Life is just totally different,” Wanda added.
It’s estimated that 1 out of every 4 teenagers is bullied at some point in their lives. The New York State Legislature will begin debating the anti-bullying measure in January. If it passes into law, it will take effect in July 2012.
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