A 10-year-old girl in Chicago's south suburbs, severely attacked by a male classmate who has allegedly bullied her for years, has accused her school of doing almost nothing to intervene in the boy's repeated taunting, despite her family's pleas for help.
Elisa Ramirez of Lynwood, Ill., a fifth grader at Sandridge School, said a 10-year-old boy at the school has, for years, verbally and even physically abused her. Most recently, the boy allegedly hit her hard in the face and injuring her eye and causing a trip to the emergency room, CBS Chicago reports.
After the incident, Elisa's family has asked for the boy to be transferred to a different classroom, but the school's superintendent told CBS that he did not believe such a change would be appropriate. Her family also alerted local police who have the option of ticketing the boy's family under the parental responsibility ordinance -- a charge not possible because the ordinance carries with it a minimum age of 13 for any individual involved in an incident, according to CBS.
As Ramirez's family remains frustrated, the state has been working to change the way bullying is addressed in schools. Two years ago, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation aimed at reducing bullying in schools by expanding the definition of bullying to include e-mail, text message or social media sites. The law also required schools to have gang-prevention training and created a School Bullying Prevention Task Force, ABC Chicago reported.
Bullying was also the subject of a new state law, sponsored by state Rep. Dwight Kay, which allows school boards and administrators to suspend or even expel a student who threatens another student or a school employee over the Internet.
But legislation is clearly not enough to protect students struggling with being bullied by their classmates. Last fall, 10-year-old Ashlynn Conner, a student at Georgetown Ridge Farm Elementary School in Vermilion County in east central Illinois, killed herself. She had told her mother a week before her death that she was being taunted at school and being called "a slut," "ugly" and "fat."
While bullying and suicide risk can sometimes be linked, experts on the matter also point out that other factors -- ranging from depression and mental illness to family life or the ending of a relationship -- can also play a role in such tragedies.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also visit The Trevor Project's website, a national organization providing support to LGBT youth, or call them at 1-866-488-7386. And if you're worried about a friend on Facebook, you can report troubling posts. They'll connect your friend with a representative from National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.