Schalmont teen's suicide has parents reaching out to others

Posted at: 10/30/2013 5:55 PM
Updated at: 10/31/2013 11:14 AM
By: Benita Zahn

When Jack was born to Robin and Don Zebrowski 14 years ago, they never imagined they would lose him so soon - or that he would take his own life.

"Always went out of his way to help the underdog," says Jack's mom, Robin.

Perhaps, because that's how Jack saw himself. The 9th grader at Schalmont High School was learning disabled - he had challenges with literacy and dexterity. But his folks say he was fun, and that he had a small group of friends. It was through them, posting on his Facebook page that his parents came to realize, after his suicide, he'd been bullied at school.

"He was called names and like physically assaulted in the hallways, at lunch, on the bus sometimes. And he had older kids that were trying to calm things for him. They couldn't be with him all the time," says Robin.

His parents believe that out of fear, Jack internalized that turmoil.

"But I think he would have been thought to be a rat and the bully would have made it worse for him. That's what we see now, after the fact," says Robin.

They're not looking for retribution, rather- they want to give Jack a voice - and encourage greater awareness about bullying. So they're encouraging parents, kids and teachers to ramp up awareness and communication.

"Keep telling, telling people until they listen. And don't just watch it. Don't be afraid of the. If you see someone being bullied, because the bully only has as much power as you give them."

Schalmont school officials, in a letter to parents in the district say they didn't have an official report of Jack being bullied. Robin and Don say they never called the school because they didn't know - but other kids, were aware of the problem. They hope their loss will spur the school to be even more vigilant about bullying.