The family of a middle school student who committed suicide inside Greenwood Lakes Middle School last week said their child was unable to continue the fight against bullies.
Lamar Hawkins III’s mother, Shaniqua Hawkins, said her family moved from New York to Florida because of bullying, but it continued at his new school.
Her 14-year-old son, who they called Shaq, had stunted growth, and his family believes that made him an easy target. She said he was pushed down the stairs, knocked out of his chair and mocked at lunch.
“Shaq was always so positive despite being tormented by bullies. We believed him to be a very happy boy,” she said.
Shaniqua Hawkins said the family voiced their concerns to the school over bullying.
“I felt paralyzed by the inability to make the bullying stop at school. I watched him walk out the door of our home and knew there was a very good chance others would be cruel to him,” she said.
Lamar Hawkins III used his father’s gun, which the family said was stored properly, to shoot himself in the bathroom Wednesday. Deputies found his body after the family searched for four hours.
Last week, hundreds gathered to remember the boy at a vigil.
The mother of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick joined the family at the news conference. Tricia Norman says her daughter killed herself in Polk County after she became the victim of constant cyber bullying.
She said the two suicides were exactly a year apart.
Norman and attorney Matt Morgan are pushing for the passage of Rebecca’s Law, which would allow for stricter punishment for bullies.
“This is a very tragic circumstance and our hearts and prayers remain with the family during this difficult time. We are aware the family held a press conference this morning and allegations of bullying were discussed. The School Board has a comprehensive bullying policy that is fully enforced in all of our schools.
We must remind everyone that this is an ongoing law enforcement investigation and Seminole County Public Schools has cooperated fully from the beginning as the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office works diligently to gather the facts surrounding this tragedy. The school district remains firmly committed to assisting the family, our students, faculty and staff with support as they continue to grieve and heal. Additional counselors are in place at the school and will remain for as long as necessary.”