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  • Writer's pictureSimone Ellin

Another Death By Bullying?

On March 9, 16-year-old Shaylee Majia was rushed to the hospital after fainting at a party. By the time she reached the hospital, she was unconscious. Tragically, Shaylee never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead on March 15.

The LA medical examiner determined that the cause of Shaylee's death was brain trauma. Though they could not verify what caused the brain trauma, the teen's death came six days after she was beaten up in the girls' bathroom at Manual Arts High School. Shaylee's mother, Maria Juarez contends that her daughter's death stems directly from the beating. Currently, the case is being investigated by the LA Police Department.

According to the Daily Mail, a video taken during the beating "shows the teenage girl having her hair dragged and hitting her head against a stall before she fell down."

According to Juarez, after the beating, Shaylee complained of headaches but continued to go about her life. She did not tell her mother about the fight and her mother did not learn about it until days before her daughter's death. Yet, it was not the first time that Shaylee had been beaten up at school. When she started attending Manual Arts eight months ago, her mother reported that she came home from school with severe bruising after another fight. At that time, Shaylee's mother reported the incident to the school, yet nothing was done.

It appears that the school is once again failing to take responsibility for the bullying. As the LA Times reported, after Shaylee's death, Manual Arts' Principal Alejandro Macias sent a letter to the school community sending condolences and noting that Shaylee died "off campus."

It is extremely concerning that so many school administrators fail to take responsibility for the bullying that takes place on their campuses. I don't claim to have answers but we do know that bullying tends to take place in areas where there is inadequate supervision of students. Frequently, that's in bathrooms, in lunchrooms and at recess. While many schools have incorporated anti-bullying and social-emotional learning programs into school curriculums, they don't seem to making enough of a dent in the way students behave outside of classrooms. It is especially disturbing that some school staff and educators look the other way when bullying takes place.

Admittedly, deaths caused by bullying ( either due to violence between students or suicides by victims) are rare, though not nearly as rare as they should be. Bullying from which kids sustain deep and often long-term health and mental health problems is far more common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "about 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied on school property. and more than 1 in 6 high school students reported being bullied electronically in the last year. Additionally, nearly 40% of high school students who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and about 33% of those who were not sure of their sexual identity experienced bullying at school or electronically in the last year, compared to 22% of heterosexual high school students. About 30% of female high school students experienced bullying at school or electronically in the last year, compared to about 19% of males. Nearly 29% of white high school students experienced bullying at school or electronically in the last year compared to about 19% of Hispanic and 18% of Black high school students."

It must be said that many educators, mental health professionals, school administrators and researchers are trying to prevent bullying. It's a hard nut to crack but they must keep trying. Clearly more work is needed to prevent tragic incidents like the deaths of Shaylee Majia and Nex Benedict.

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