An American twelve-year-old boy has killed himself after he was bullied by classmates for being a cheerleader, according to friends.
Ronin Shimizu, from Folsom, California, is believed to have taken his own life on Wednesday at around 3pm but local police authorities have not released any further details.
The young boy attended Folsom Middle School, participating in the school’s drama club and performing in the Vista Junior Eagles Cheer Team as the team’s only male member, before dropping out amid allegations of severe bullying.
“In 6th grade when he left to go home-school…saw him in the locker room. He just looked so happy to leave the schools. He knew he didn’t want to be bullied again,” 13-year-old Hunter Reed, a friend of Ronin’s, told FOX40.
A member of Ronin’s old cheerleading squad told CBS Sacramento: “I heard that people called him gay because he was a cheerleader”.
Another friend, 11-year-old Mia Kleinbardt, said: “Bullying him because of cheerleading, it’s not right. It’s what he loves to do and that’s a human right to do that”.
Shortly before his death Ronin had left the public school system and signed up to the Folsom Cordova Unified School District’s home-school program.
Folsom Middle School confirmed that allegations of bullying were reported to the school by Ronin’s parents on numerous occasions.
“I can tell you we looked into each one of them and investigated them fully and took appropriate action for each instance,” District spokesperson Dan Thigpen told The Sacramento Bee newspaper.
“We don’t know if there was a connection between bullying and his death,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we want all of our students to be protected from any form of harassment at school,” he added.
His family declined to speak to the press, as family and friends gathered on Thursday in a quiet candlelight vigil to the memory of their son.
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