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Rally held to take stand against bullying

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Many locals are honoring a young boy who took his own life after years of bullying. A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night at Asher Brown's school to raise awareness about bullying.

The rally was intended to place focus on perceived problems. Bullying. Teen suicide. Systemic failure.

All of this in the emotional wake of the self-inflicted gunshot that killed 13-year-old Asher Brown after his parents say his religion and his sexuality made him a target.

Barry Oullette organized Tuesday's rally and vigil.

"People are frustrated. People want to, a lot of people, want to come out and they want to make sure Asher Brown's voice is heard," Oullette said.

But good intentions aside, some parents at Hamilton Middle School where Asher was a student don't like it happening here at dismissal time.

"I think it's terrible because it has frightened all of our children too. For this reason, I am here to pick up my daughter today. Because it has scared my daughter," said Shay Phillips.

"I don't worry about bullying in this school or any other school. But I do worry about it in general," said Sheila McGraw-Hall.

"I think the school is being wrongfully blamed in this case. Or at least to the magnitude that it is being put out there right now in the media," said another parent.

The demonstrators are hoping more attention to what is a nationwide issue will lead to change  legislatively and socially.

"This is so sad; what is going on in this country? It's very sad. It's so sad that these kids are killing themselves for different reasons," said rally participant Victor Martinez.

However, Deborah Murphy isn't so sure. She's a youth specialist at the Montrose Counseling Center and she says pointing fingers solves nothing.

"Placing blame doesn't do any good. It makes us feel better because we can say there's the problem. But by placing blame on bullies and placing blame on the schools, we're failing to address the root causes of the problem," said Murphy.

The Cypress Fairbanks school district is investigating now to find out whether their employees did or did not respond to reports of bullying.

Asher Brown's family says he endured years of bullying about his clothes, his religion and sexual orientation. The family says school officials repeatedly refused to meet with them, but the school is denying that. They do say they are doing an extensive review of their records, phone logs and interviews to find out exactly what happened.

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