LINCOLN, Neb. - The family of a boy who committed suicide after being teased by his peers says schools need to adopt strong anti-bullying measures.
Ben Lewis' family told the Lincoln Journal Star that the 15-year-old with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism, had always been picked on for being different. But the teasing got worse after the family moved to Lincoln from Omaha in October.
The family doesn't blame Lincoln schools for Ben's death last week. But one of his uncles, Dan Green, said schools need to have strong anti-bullying policies and back them up.
"Schools preach about their commitment to strict anti-bullying policies, but what goes into the policies? What should parents do?" Green said. "There's got to be someone who parents can reach out to."
Green said schools should suggest steps parents can take to combat bullying, including referrals to outside counselors.
Lincoln High School Principal Mike Wortman said school officials weren't aware Ben was having problems.
Wortman said when officials do learn about bullying, they talk to the students involved and work to find a solution. The school also spends time trying to teach all students how they should treat one another.
Family members said Ben had trouble communicating because of his Asperger's syndrome, so even though he'd mentioned some problems, they didn't realize how severe they were. Ben would quickly change the subject when asked about the bullying.
But soon before his death, Ben mentioned to his family several times that he was being picked on and that students in Lincoln seemed meaner than in Omaha.