Loved Ones Say Bullying Led to Suicide of Boy, 12

Friday, June 01, 2012

Memorial forJoel Morales, 12, who killed himself at his home in East Harlem on Tuesday May 29. His family says he killed himself because he was bullied. Memorial forJoel Morales, 12, who killed himself at his home in East Harlem on Tuesday, May 29. His family says he killed himself because he was bullied. (Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

Loved ones remembered 12-year-old Joel Morales outside the East Harlem home where he committed suicide this week, lamenting not having stepped in sooner to prevent the bullying some say led to his death.

Longtime friend Diamond Zaro, 11, who visited a growing makeshift memorial outside the Jefferson Houses on Friday, said he was constantly trying to protect his pal from being teased for being short.

“I remember they took his shoes and ran away, I had to get them,” said Diamond, who attended P.S. 102 with Joel. “I also used to walk him to the Boys Club when I could because some of the kids used to bully him.”

Zaro said he regrets keeping these incidents to himself.

“He used to ask me not to tell his mom because he did not want to get in trouble because he knew his mom wouldn’t let him go outside,” he said. “He would rather go outside and be bullied than stay indoors.”

Joel was transferred to nearby P.S. 57 in an attempt to curb the incidents, according to friends and family.

(Photo: Joel's best friend, Diamond Zaro, 11, said he wishes he spoke up about the bullying some say may have led to his friend's death. Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

The NYPD is investigating whether bullying led to Joel’s suicide. He hanged himself in the bathroom of his mother’s apartment on Tuesday.

Joel’s half brother, Richard Salazar, 25, was arranging pictures and candles at his younger brother’s memorial on Friday.

“It took this long for people to realize bullying is one of the main crimes being committed now—not just for my brother but for everyone and their family,” he said. “It’s not fair.”

(Photo: Richard Salazar, 25, Joel's half-brother. Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

Parent and neighbor Shamear Gainey said for bulling to stop, parents need to take more responsibility.

“What I see is a lot of young kids running around 11- or 12-years old by themselves without parent supervision,” she said, “and I feel when your kid is that age, they need to be supervised. That’s how a lot of trouble starts –all parents need to keep an eye on their children.”

A Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said there was a crisis team at P.S. 57 on Friday to help counsel staff and students but wouldn’t comment further.

Since 2007, the DOE has implemented its “Respect for All” anti-bullying program in schools.


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Comments [7]

Patrice from Orange County California

In memory of Joel Morales, my triplets and I will being marching for "it's cool to be kind" march against bullying.
One of my triplets will be wearing a t-shirt with Joel's picture on it. The march will be October 19, 2012, in Laguna Beach, California.


Oct. 16 2012 01:53 PM
Meggan from Chicago il

God bless him I feel so bad .. He was to young. I never even thought to do anything like that @ 12 yrs old.. R.I.P Joel Morales <3

Jul. 23 2012 01:46 PM
Mari from NY

Richard, first I want to express my sincerest heartfelt condolences to you and your family. I can't magine the pain you're going through. I also admire the fact despite what Joel was going through you encouraged him not to get into physical fights with these sorry of an excuse punks. As concerned parents or loving family members we try our best to instill good morals and encourage our kids to treat others the way you would want to be treated. I do understand bullying, some people go through more extreme cases than others and it can make or break you. When my oldest son was in the 6th grade he was also smaller and a book worm. He did get picked on but one day when he was using the bathroom he was assaulted by three eight graders twice his size. I was NOT satisfied on how the school/police handled the situation. I was livid! Naturally & understandably as a mom I was going to do something about it. After it was "handled" those punks didn't mess with mi hijo again! My son is grown now, studying electrical engineering & coaches physical fitness (without a doubt he can whoop a whole tribe of bully's @$$es now) but it breaks my heart that Joel was robbed of his future. It truly is sickening how out of control bullying has become. Joel's memory is with God and lives on through you and all those who love him. I continue to pray for you & yours for strength, endurance, some measure of peace and that you find a way to cope with the tragic loss of your baby brother...Dios te bendiga

Jun. 13 2012 01:35 PM
richard salazar from harlem new york

first of all get that gay shit out your mouth you must be gay talking about my brother like that he was smarter than you and me and because of his height he got bullied so learn how to think before u speak fagot

Jun. 13 2012 02:19 AM
Kaitlyn A

If you or someone you know is dealing with Bullying, Self Injury or Thoughts of Suicide, There is HOPE. Take a few minutes and check out My Broken . It's an online community of others who've struggled with these same issues and are finding Hope & Strength Together. The Website offers Live Chat and Toll Free #'s that'll connect you with real people that care and that'll listen. "No One Lonely Alone"

Jun. 04 2012 04:39 PM
Angela Smith from Los Angeles, CA

Many of our children nowadays are being bullied at streets, at school, even at home. We really have to protect them from such depressions that they don't deserve at their very young age. I love my kids and I will do anything and everything just to give the best for them especially my protection. Their safety, is on top of my priority. Speaking of child's safety, I am on a safety service with my whole family. I protect them with this personal safety device called safekidzone. In a press of the panic button, you know where they at and what's happening. It can also send some help directly to 911 when there's a real time emergency. you may check them here: We can't be always with our kids but with safekidzone, you know when they're in trouble and you will be able to help them.

Jun. 03 2012 03:31 PM

Since according to popular media bullying is only a problem for gay kids I guess this means he was gay? Maybe it was a hate crime then, quick, bring in the psychics to read the minds of the perpetrators!

Jun. 02 2012 02:34 PM

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