A legally-blind Queens teenager says she's so fed up with being tormented by school bullies, she and her family are suing their parents, arguing that bullying is a "learned behavior."
Howard Beach resident Caitlin Rocco, 16, says she's been tortured by her fellow students since middle school, with some bullies going so far as to threaten her with rape and murder. "One girl pushed me into the bus lane and said ‘I wish there had been a bus coming because then you would’ve died and I would’ve been happy,'" Caitlin, who is legally blind, told CBS News, noting she has been hospitalized for having suicidal thoughts on more than one occasion. "I thought that I would never have friends. I thought that I would never live a happy, fulfilling life. And I sort of just lost the will to live because of that."
Caitlin's mother, Marah Rocco, argues that the parents of the bullying students at Scholars Academy in Rockaway Beach, where Caitlin is a student, are responsible for the behavior of their offspring. “Bullies are often bullied at home. This is learned behavior," she told the Post. Now she's planning to sue the parents of the toughest bullies, as well as the Department of Education, voicing concern that the torment will not stop until legal action is taken. “My question is: How many dead children do we have to have before this country takes bullying seriously?” she told the tabloid.
News of Rocco's suit comes a few months after the parents of 12-year-old Joel Morales, who hung himself in his East Harlem bathroom in 2012 after allegedly being tormented by bullies, sued the Department of Education and a number of children accused of bullying Morales. Though parents aren't so convinced they should be held responsible for their children's actions: "We’re not ultimately liable for what our children do. Our children are independent of us," parent Kathy Wiegand told CBS News.
Rocco's attorney, Tedd Kessler, tells us that while he doesn't know of any bullying-related case in New York State in which parents have been held liable, "it's up to parents to teach, train and discipline their children, and when they don't do it, the parents have to be held responsible." "The buck has to stop somewhere, and it has to stop with the parents," he said.
A number of New York schoolchildren have allegedly been driven to suicide due to bullying, including Morales, 15-year-old Staten Island teen Felicia Garcia and 15-year-old Amanda Cummings, also of Staten Island.