The Groton School is under fire for the recent suicide of a student accused of bullying. (Photo via Groton's Facebook …Three weeks ago, The Groton School, a prestigious New England boarding school, accused three of its students of bullying. Several days later, one of accused teens, committed suicide. Now the school's zero-tolerance policy on bullying is the one under fire.
After 16 year-old student Hunter Perkins, along with two other classmates, were singled out for creating sexually demeaning cartoons about another student, he was asked to withdraw from Groton, according to his father, Walter Perkins.
Hunter wanted to fight expulsion after his grieving dad had taken him back home to Virgina. The school sent numerous emails suggesting he avoid a permanent stain on his record by quietly withdrawing, according to the Boston Herald. On Oct. 11, while his father was in another room, Hunter shot himself.
"My poor son, God love him,'' he told The Herald. "He thought the whole world hated him.''
Last month, when Tyler Clementi took his own life after fellow Rutgers students allegedly filmed him having sex with another man, the issue of anti-bullying became a matter of public concern. As terrible a tragedy as it was, the aftermath brought increased awareness of the danger of bullying, especially in terms of sexual orientation. Anderson Cooper targeted derogatory language in films. Tim Gunn opened up about his suicidal teen angst and sent the message "it gets better."
But in the wake of his own son's suicide, Walker Perkins, feels one tragedy beget another. He thinks the school overreacted out of fear of controversy. Even before Clementi, the New England area was at the center of another high school suicide, when Boston teen Phoebe Price took her own life. In that situation, fingers were pointed at the school for turning a blind eye. Institutional policy and involvement came under scrutiny.
But now Perkins is scrutinizing the institution, and so is the local D.A. who's investigating the case.
Did the school go to far? Or was it just enforcing a policy?