Earlier this month we brought you a weeklong series called “Battle Against Bullying”. Many of our stories featured kids, of all ages, claiming to have been bullied or the ones who bullied others. One local mother who saw our stories said she was compelled to call News 2 because five years ago, her son took his own life because he was bullied. She turned her grief into action and now hopes her son’s story can help other’s before it’s too late.
May 31st, 2010…
Lisa Williams, Christian Taylor’s mother, says, “Chris came up behind me and he was like, I love you mom, you know that.”
Christian Taylor loved skateboarding…
Williams says, “And I was like, Game Stop, no, dad didn’t get paid can’t go to Game Stop. He was like, no. I love you. You know that right? And I was like, I love you too.”
…And dreamt of going to the University of Florida.
Williams says, “And he stood there with his arms around me for about 20 minutes watching me cook.”
Christian then went to his little brother and sister, telling them over and over how much he loved them. No one realized at the time, Christian was saying good-bye.
Williams says, “He was in his bedroom closet and he was on his knees and the dog leash was around his neck.”
His family thought he’d gone to bed early because of a headache. Christian’s mother still has no idea how long he’d been hanging in the closet before they found him.
Williams says, “After that, everything seems a lot… Blurry.”
EMS rushed Christian to the hospital and performed CPR, but it was too late. Christian died. He was just 16-years-old.
News 2 asked Lisa Williams, “Is there any doubt in your mind that is was that incessant bullying that led to this?”
She says, “None. None whatsoever.”
Christian’s family had just moved to Virginia from Texas. He started going to Grafton High School in the middle of the school year. Almost immediately, one student refused to leave him alone, calling him names, convincing him his life wasn’t worth living.
Williams says, “He called me from the bathroom, he was hysterical. The kid had actually told him go ahead and kill yourself and get it over with.”
Lisa went to the school and authorities for help, but the Sheriff’s Office wouldn’t investigate because no crime was committed and bullying wasn’t a “prohibited behavior” in Virginia public schools.
Williams says, “In the state of Virginia, you can bully and there’s nothing written in stone saying you’ll have consequences you’ll have to answer to.”
But now there is. After Christian died, Lisa made it her mission to bring the bullying issue before Virginia lawmakers and in 2013, a law was passed. It defined bullying and required the development of a statewide policy banning bullying in public schools. The law also spells out how bullying investigations should be handled and the consequences for bullies.
South Carolina also has an anti-bullying law called the “Safe School Climate Act” It prohibits bullying in public schools and made it mandatory for districts to develop detailed policies for handling bullying. This law was passed seven years before Virginia’s. Lisa Williams says these laws are important, but mean nothing if bullying is still going on at school.
Williams says, “Every time I hear that someone has taken their lives it brings me right back to that moment that I found out my son was dead. And some of these kids are absolutely gorgeous and they are dying because someone else thinks it’s their right to tell them that they’re not.”
She encourages parents to pay attention and follow through with bullying allegations until the problem is completely resolved because she says, no one deserves to lose a child, and no child deserves to miss out on their future.
Williams says, “He had so much potential to be somebody awesome. And it all got taken away because someone decided to tell him he wasn’t worth it.”