MCKINNEY (CBSDFW) - Friends and family of a McKinney teen who committed suicide are coming together to take a stand against bullying, which they say may have driven the boy to take his own life.
What started as a few flowers and messages has grown to a large scale public tribute to Raymond Howell, Jr. Now many hope the public conversation this case has prompted will help other teens.
"Raymond was a very beautiful, kind, good-looking, loving child," Pamela Wood said.
Wood and her family knew Howell well. She says a tree from her front yard was his favorite, so she and her husband uprooted it and planted it as a tribute. The growing memorial marks the site where Howell's body was found after police say he committed suicide last week.
"I can't imagine what caused the bullying, but it just shows that anybody can be bullied," Wood said.
Investigators say they received no specific report of Howell being bullied at McKinney Boyd High School, but Wood insists warning signs were there.
"There was a fight at the school that was videotaped and circulated all over the place. There should have maybe been more done about that. There should have been maybe a little more investigation as to why are these children in our school fighting?" Wood said.
In a statement Monday the school district wrote, "Our policies and procedures include a process for investigation and intervention in cases of reported bullying." The statement goes on, "However, in order for us to address these issues, it is critical that information regarding potential bullying be shared with staff..."
Wood, who says her own child has been the victim of bullying, says both school officials and parents need to do more to communicate with their children, and look for bullying as a possible root cause for other behavior problems.
"Are you being bullied? Ask the direct question, not, are you okay because you know a teenager is going to say they're fine," Wood said.
Now relatives of Howell say if there's any good that can come from this case it's that more people will realize how widespread the problem of bullying is, and that other young people can get the help they need before hurting themselves.
Local parents and supporters are planning anti-bullying rallies outside McKinney Boyd High School Thursday and Friday morning to raise awareness about the problem.
The rallies will take place on the sidewalk outside McKinney Boyd High School starting at 10am Thursday and 7am Friday.
Organizers of the rallies ask students to stay in school and to ask parents and school officials first before participating themselves.
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