HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Long Island teen took his own life last week after years of alleged bullying at school.
Now, his parents say they want the bullies held accountable.
There were hugs and tears inside a Hicksville funeral home Wednesday as a long line of mourners paid their final respects to high school senior Angelo Collazo.
“My son was 17 years old. He was bullied since the fifth grade. It never stopped,” his mother, Angie, said.
She said her son struggled with scoliosis but suffered even more at the hands of his classmates.
“He had to wear a back brace prior to his surgery. What did they do? They punched him, and hit him, and kicked him. They called him a cripple,” Angie said.
She said her son would never name the bullies, but last Thursday things became so bad he threw himself in front of a train.
The boy’s father was too distraught to speak, but his uncle demanded the bullies be identified.
“These children that are picking on other kids, they need to be held responsible for this,” Frank Collazzo said. “It isn’t right. I lost my godson, my brother lost his son. This is not right.”
Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso issued a statement, saying all bullying allegations are investigated.
Experts who provide counseling say schools are required to immediately investigate all bullying claims under New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act, or DASA.
“That is investigated within 24 hours. It is given to a DASA coordinator, who then does a full investigation, interviewing the child who is being bullied, witnesses,” said Ginger Lieberman, with the Long Island Professional Education Network.
Collazo’s mother said she reported the abuse several times but nothing was done that she’s aware of. She added she’s already been contacted by several other parents whose children are being bullied.
“If his story being out there saves at least one other child, at least I know he did not die in vain,” she said.
The family said Collazo wanted to be a first responder so he could help people.
On Wednesday – one month shy of his 18th birthday – he was laid to rest.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that one in four students has been bullied and that one third of those bullied are often afraid to go to school.