In the wake of the high profile manslaughter trial of Abel Cedeno, the gay student in New York who allegedly fatally attacked his classmate who was consistently bullying him at school and injured another, the city’s Department of Education has launched an online portal for students to report incidents of bullying in schools.
In the webpage, Student-to-Student Bullying Complaints, students from around the city can anonymously or otherwise report incidents of bullying they experienced or witnessed within the educational system.
“Students may not harass, intimidate, bully and discriminate against other students based on race, color, citizenship/immigration status, religion, creed, national origin, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or weight,” reads the portal’s pretext.
Furthermore, according to the portal, anyone can report bullying cases to the entrance if it happens within the jurisdiction of the Department of Education which includes events that occurred while in school, anywhere online (“cyberbullying”) including websites and social media, via phone, email or other digital means, while on school buses. Incidents that happened while on school property, and while off school property when the behavior disturbs or threatens (or would be expected to disrupt or threaten), the school community can also be reported in the portal.
In supplement to the reporting portal, the New York Department of Education also had dedicated a page that includes links relating to school bullying with resources that would guide students, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders when a bullying incident happened and tips on how to prevent such unfortunate events from happening.
The Cedeno Trial
The initiative from the city’s education department comes after the high profile trial of Abel Cedeno, 19, a student who fatally attacked his classmate Matthew McCree, 15, and seriously injured Ariane Laboy, 16, during a fight on Sept. 27, 2017, in a third-period history class at their high school in the Bronx.
Advocates and several politicians slammed education officials and the school for their inability to control the situation and to address the long-standing problem of bullying against the minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ Community.
Cedeno, who recently came out as gay during the grand jury trial, said that he was consistently bullied in school for his perceived sexual orientation and effeminate behavior. The incident involving Cedeno and his classmates is the first killing that happened in a New York school for the last two decades and parents concerned for student safety pushed for metal detectors to be installed in the school the day after the stabbing.
The three boys were students at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, a five-story brick building on Mohegan Avenue sometimes referred to as the “Zoo” because of its reputation for gang violence.
“Either I’m going to jail, or I’m going to get jumped.”
During the day of the killing, Cedeno said that students started to throw debris of rocks at him. He went to the bathroom to escape from the torturous bullying but getting out of his hiding place made the bullying against him even worse, he recounted during his court testimony.
Grabbing his bag as he wanted to leave school, at the door, Cedeno asked: “Who is throwing these things at me and why?”
Triggered by Cedeno’s question, McCree and Laboy moved from the back of the class toward Abel to confront him. Cedeno, who is left-handed, drew a pocket knife to warn the two aggressors. Instead of backing off, McCree pushed a teacher away and started attacking Cedeno who said he defended himself and stabbed McCree and Laboy.
When asked by the guidance counselor why he has a knife at school, Cedeno said: “‘I don’t know, I guess I thought I was a badass.” But while processing Cedeno, the guidance council overheard him to someone over the phone saying “either I’m going to jail or I’m going to get jumped.”
“I shouldn’t have done it; I went too far. I shouldn’t have done it; I went too far,” he added.
For members of the LGBTQ+ community, the incident is something that has pulled strings in their hearts as many of them have suffered similar incidents of bullying in school.
“I cried a little bit when I heard about what happened to Abel,” said Daniel Dromm, an openly gay member of the City Council and a former teacher.
“There were times I thought when I was younger; I’d like to harm the bullies who are harming me. Luckily I didn’t act, but I understand the mentality.”
Earlier this month, Cedeno filed a federal lawsuit against the city education department, claiming that the school enabled the bullying and that he was physically assaulted regularly and endured “discriminatory anti-gay epithets.”