A 12-year-old boy from California took his own life on Dec. 3 after classmates bullied him for being a cheerleader, friends and family said, ABC 10 reports. (via ABC 7)
Ronin Shimizu was a sixth grader at Folsom Middle School in the city of Folsom, located 100 miles northeast of San Francisco, before his parents removed from the school after he became the subject of intense harassment from fellow classmates. Shimizu's friends and family said students went after the young boy because he was the only male cheerleader for the Vista Jr. Eagles squad.
"He was bullied very badly," Folsom student Riley Coleman told ABC 10. "It's not OK to bully people."
After Shimizu took his own life, families and friends gathered at his home to mourn and pay tribute to the boy.
"I was devastated when I found out. I started crying," Ronin's friend Grace Velander told the news station. "I've known him since 6th grade. Me and him had classes all last year together."
Folsom Middle School principal John Bliss sent an email to parents about Shimizu's death and the Folsom Cordova School District released a statement.
"We are shocked and deeply saddened by this unspeakable tragedy, and our hearts go out to Ronin's family during this difficult time," the statement reads. "Many students, teachers and staff who knew Ronin remember him as a positive and outgoing child, and our school communities are truly grieving this loss today. We are moved by the outpouring of support from families and community members asking how they can help."
Additionally, Shimizu's parents, Brandon and Danielle Shimizu, released a statement about their son's death on Saturday:
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.
According to the Daily Mail, the boy's parent's complained a number of times to school officials about the bullying the 12-year-old was experiencing. The school officials say they followed protocol, however.
The newspaper also points out that the school district have added a comprehensive anti-bullying campaign.
From our media partner EDGE