12-Year-Old Boy Bullied for Being a Cheerleader Takes His Own Life


ronin shimizuHis friends describe him as one of the happiest people they have ever met, but there was a sadness inside Ronin Shimizu due to the years of bullying he endured. Last year, when Ronin was in the sixth grade, his family took him out of Folsom Middle School in Folsom, California, because of excessive teasing by other kids. He was homeschooled but was still a part of many activities including the drama club, the Upper Natoma Rowing Club, and the Vista Jr. Eagles Cheerleading Squad. The bullying didn't stop and many of his former classmates continued to tease and harass him because he was the only boy on the cheer squad. It became too much and Ronin committed suicide.


As a mother, it's very difficult to hold back tears to learn that a child felt that tormented and sad. My son has been bullied so this hits hard. As parents, we try to protect our kids from pain and harm as much as we can. The Shimizus did just that by removing him from the school system and homeschooling him. But the kids who bullied him were relentless and they continued to seek him out even though he wasn't in class, or the hallways, or the lunchroom with them anymore. Social media has given bullies a platform. This can make a child feel like his or her entire world is crashing down, that no one likes him. Children are fragile -- they are still learning their way in this world especially at the tender age of 12.

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Erik Allen was one of Ronin's friends from the rowing club and with tears in his eyes he shared, "Anytime I talked to him it really brightened my day and made me feel better." Hunter Reed who was in drama club with Ronin said, "He was always so passionate, like he didn’t care what a lot of people said. He just kept going on with life. He was always so happy, like the happiest person I’ve ever met. In sixth grade when he left to go homeschool … I saw him in the locker room. He just looked so happy to leave the schools. He knew he didn’t want to be bullied again." I wish there was a way to turn back time, to help Ronin see how much he was loved, and how his smile made others smile.

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Officials are investigating. The community has come together to grieve and support each other. Ronin's life and spirit will be celebrated. I think Ronin was a pioneer being the only boy on a cheerleading squad. I wish all kids would have seen it that way.

Parents need to talk to their kids about bullying. We have to look for signs that our kids are being bullied or bullying others. It's clear victims of bullying often keep their emotions well hidden until it's too late. Which is why we have to teach our kids that we are all different, we all like different things, there are no set "girl" things and no set "boy" things -- there are simply things for all of us to take an interest in. Teasing someone because they like something you don't like is wrong. When talking with our children, we can also ask if there are any other kids they see being bullied so we can notify the school, parents, maybe make a difference. Bullying is too common, and the outcomes are too horrifying to ignore.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Shimizu family.

Do you fear your child is being bullied or has been a bully?


If the words someone is using indicate they may be considering suicide, or if you yourself have wrestled with the idea, please reach out to a suicide hotline. There is ALWAYS someone there who wants to listen and who will take you seriously. You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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