Bullying Allegedly Takes Another Victim

Despite the old adage about sticks and stones, the mother of New York City middle school student Maria Herrera told a local newspaper that words really did hurt her daughter, who apparently committed suicide by hanging herself last week.

Herrera was the latest tragic victim of bullying, according to her mother, who told The New York Post that she found the 12-year-old hanging dead in a closet from a cloth belt on April 7.

Mercedes Herrera told the The Post that students constantly teased her daughter and even went as far as cutting her hair.

"She would come home crying," Herrera told the Post, adding that she complained "more than 20 times" to administrators at the school, to no avail.

While many children deal with bullying — from name-calling to teasing and sometimes even physical violence — not all of them cope well when they are consistently the butt of the joke.

ABCNEWS.com was unable to reach Herrera, and Public School 72, where the deceased student was enrolled in sixth grade, declined to comment and deferred questions to the New York City Department of Education.

In a statement from the DOE, the stringent rules for reporting bullying with the school system were reiterated, and the department said they have no evidence that the alleged bullying of Herrera was ever reported, contrary to her mother's claims.

"This situation is a tragedy, but there is no record that this student had been a victim of persistent bullying or that her parents had complained about persistent bullying at the school," according to the statement. "The Department of Education does not tolerate bullying or harassment in any form."

Violence Moves from Hallways to the Internet

Herrera's death follows in the wake of several other bullying-related incidents, most notably the 2006 suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier, who hanged herself after she was bullied over the popular networking site MySpace.com.

And just last week, a video depicting eight teens as they beat another unconscious became a viral video sensation.

With bullying increasingly making a move from the school's hallways to student's Web pages and e-mail inboxes, many schools are struggling to cope with a problem that never seems to go away.

"Just when we think something is handled, something new comes out," said Jan Harp Domene, the national president of The Parent Teacher Association. "Now we see violence in all different forms."

School employees should do everything they can to keep an eye on bullying, Harp Domene said, but parents should take control of the situation and make sure they communicate not only with the school but their children, too.

"Parents need to talk to their child's teachers, but they still have to talk to their kid," said Harp Domene. "A lot of times parents will think talking to the teacher is enough, but the teacher is there to monitor 30 or 35 kids and you can't expect them to see everything."

Both parents and teachers should make sure children know it's OK to tell someone if they are getting bullied, a challenge to the stigma that tattle-tailing is "bad," she said.

"A lot of the time children who are bullied don't want to talk about it because they don't want that person to come back at them, they need reassurance by teachers and school administrators.

"They need to tell children that it's OK to tell, especially when it's your safety or your health. It's also OK to tell if you see it happening to another student."

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