Could They Have Done More?


Jesse Zambrano

Stop the hate, instead spread kindness.

Jesse Zambrano, Staff Writer

 As 2017 comes to an end, news of a 13-year-old girl committing suicide due to bullying made headlines. Rosalie Avila of Yucaipa, California was found faintly breathing by her parents on Nov. 28. She decided to leave her parents a heartbreaking letter in order for them to try to understand why she took such a drastic action against her life. Avila was a registered seventh grade student at Mesa View Middle school, where most of the bullying took place. To her loved ones, she was a kind girl who had a future planned out for herself, one that included accomplishing her career goals to become a lawyer and writer. She was the target of frequent torment because of her appearance.

Freddie and Charlene Avila, parents of Rosalie Avila, are infuriated by the way the school system handled their daughter’s years of bullying. Even after her death, bullies continued to abuse the image of Rosalie Avila with a picture of a bed and a grave reading “hey mom next time don’t tuck me into this, tuck me into this.” The school board and its administration should have put a stop to the bullying as soon as it was brought to their attention.  Though we cannot control what has been done, we can certainly set forth the correct punishment in order for the school children to understand how their actions ended a life.

Parents know their kids. They know when they have had a hard day at school, or when something is deeply troubling them. From the beginning, Rosalie Avila’s parents knew something was happening to their daughter. Before the horrendous acts, she was always looking forward to going to school. Yet when she started getting bullied, Rosalie Avila began to look forward to the weekends, when she could receive a break from the demeaning jokes thrown at her on a daily basis. They discovered their daughter had begun cutting her wrists as an escape from what seemed to be a never-ending practical joke. As suggested by the school, they made the decision to take her to speak with a counselor. Sadly, this was not enough. Rosalie Avila was rushed to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, where she took her last few breaths and was declared brain dead Dec. 1.

“Seeing the news of Rosalie Avila really broke my heart. A life lost too soon,” junior Jason Houser said.

The parents of the young girl discovered a detailed journal she had kept throughout the years in which she wrote down everything her classmates had accosted her with over the two year period. She was called “ugly” and made the class joke because of her braces. The parents took the journal to the police department so the authorities could track down the students responsible for the bullying. She was a person who was loved by her family, who described her as a “beautiful person inside and out.”

The school decided to take action by suspending the bullies for a few days, but a three-day suspension is not an adequate punishment.  Who is to say that suspension will stop them from making fun of another kid? A life has ended and all the school system did was give them a break and create a file in the system that will give a brief oversight of the matter. Justice was not present when it came to deciding how these school children would be reprimanded for their acts. We cannot expect those who are currently being put through the ringer in school or online through social media to go to an adult for help as they are taught to do when nothing is being done in their favor.  Avila’s parents complained to the school’s administration when the first signs of bullying occurred, in response the administration said it would be taken care of.  According to Avila’s aunt, young Rosalie Avila was actively seeing a counselor as mandated by the school’s administration after they were made aware of the situation. This mandate was not enough in the young girl’s situation as the administration only reached out to Avila and never tried to find a way to stop the abusive behavior from the bullies. The bullying continued on until Nov. 28. However, this case could have probably had an entirely different outcome, if the school’s administration did more to stop the bullying, rather than just worry about Avila’s emotional well-being.

Avila’s case can work as a real eye-opener when it comes to show how many cases that are reported to an educational administration, result in the death of the victim. Recently, a Colorado student, Ashawnty Davis, also committed suicide after a video of her fighting was posted on the socially famous app The video was then shared throughout the school halls, and Davis’s torment slowly began. Davis’s first fight had her mother concerned about how her daughter looked scared. Additionally, the fighting arose after young Davis took it upon herself to confront the girl who had been bullying her non-stop. However, the bullying in the hallways only doubled after the video was posted and shared. Shortly after, two weeks to be exact, Davis hanged herself in her closet.  Once the video was brought to the attention of faculty members at Sunrise Elementary School, they addressed the matter with the students. Davis’s school commented that “this is a heartbreaking loss for the school community. Mental health supports will be made available for any students who need help processing the loss.” The school has defended their status against news media outlets stating, “we were made aware of that video when a media outlet ( approached us with it. We took immediate action in response, turning the video over to police and addressing the matter with students. It should also be noted that the video did not take place during school hours.” While it was the right thing to turn in the video to the authorities and “address the matter with the students,” Davis was still mocked online and in person. Instead of commenting on the fact that the “video did not take place during school hours,” why did Sunrise Elementary not take responsibility for the fact that it happened in school grounds, as well as Davis’s bullying? It might not have happened on the school’s official clock, but it still occurred in a place where multiple children go for an education, and in a sense, it serves as a home to most as students spend more time at school than in their homes. It appears as if the school is simply trying to detach itself from the situation in order to not receive backlash for the girl’s death. The school could have truly done more to resolve the problem instead of releasing a statement which basically stated that they were not responsible for her death.

A single-minded view that can be used to excuse the behavior of these kids is that “kids will be kids.” Maturity is a key aspect of life that is usually reached at the age 18, and recently it has been discovered that most people do not reach full maturity until the age of 25. Therefore, it is most likely that these children took the “jokes” too far as they did not comprehend the value their words have on others. This is the reason why parents and the adults in a growing kid’s life will try to implement a correct upbringing. There will be times when teachers do not notice when kids are being tormented because the child does not speak up or approach them directly with what is happening. Therefore, many people do not blame the schools because the administration is not really informed about everything that goes on.

“As I saw the news, I could not help choke up from the tears. I know I have said some mean things in the past, but I’ve never taken the time to really think of what could happen if the things I am saying, affect someone so hard,” sophomore Sarah Wagner said.

Frankly, there is no moral reason to allow kids to torment others simply because they are younger and do not know better, or because they do not have the courage to speak up. Without any excuse, it is a teacher’s job to take notice of their students’ behavior, good or bad. If a child becomes reclusive, quieter and stops being their usual self, something is obviously wrong. It is the job of a teacher and person to reach out to students to find the reasoning behind the alterations in their behavior. Bullying may not be the only issue, but actions are decided and committed in a split second. In fact, one never knows if just intervening in someone’s thought process and asking “what is wrong?” could save their life. Aside from teachers noticing and reporting the situation to their boss, disciplinary actions need to be taken against the bullies who find it okay to ruin someone’s life. These actions need to be adequate and fair, especially when it comes to dealing with the matter of self-harm. It is a parent’s job to raise their child adequately, and to teach their own kids and others who may be involved in their lives to be kind, as one never knows what someone is going through— child or adult.

Precious lives are being lost as a result of bullies’ actions when, in fact, these actions can be stopped and the lives of these children can be saved. Kids need to be taught respect for others, but most importantly for themselves. Self-love and acceptance is a big part of life and surviving its crudeness. Hoping what one can realize from this opinion is that overall we could all do more to help others in need whether emotionally or physically. We, as a society, have to realize that, above all, a human life is precious and a blessing. We only get one. So, before you say an unkind comment to a family member, friend or foe, think of the consequences that will follow, because at the end of the day, there will always be a consequence.