Bullying a problem that needs to be dealt with, says family of teen who took own life

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A smiling, kind kid is how family and friends remember Caleb Hershiser.

"He had a good heart and his name and his memory and the kindness he had for others is going to live on," said Caleb's mom, Anna Hershiser.

The 14-year-old was a seventh grader at Willard Middle School. Last month, Caleb's family found him dead inside his own home. They said he shot himself in the head.

"Our kids are paying the ultimate price, and my son paid the ultimate price," Anna said.

Caleb's mom said her son was bullied his whole life, but he hid the pain well.

"You have the guilt, you have the anger, you have the sadness, the pain, the heartache, and I think worst of all I just feel like I've failed him," she said.

Caleb's tragic death is shining a light on bullying at Willard Schools. About two dozen parents and students protested at Monday night's school board meeting. Some spoke about their own bullying experiences and others remembered Caleb.

"We both got it bad. I just wish he was here with me now," said Caleb's friend.

Caleb's family and friends made and sold hundreds of shirts to honor Caleb and bringing awareness to bullying. The money raised will go to a scholarship in Caleb's name.

"He was a straight A kid. He got an F in class this year, he always got As, and that tells me that was the classroom where a lot of bullying happened and the teacher didn't do anything about it," said Caleb's cousin Cindy Breyman.

Many people at the meeting said the school isn't doing enough. Breyman said she wants the state to investigate.

"It's sad. It's sad. We have a school system, a brand new school, and they have this problem. I think it needs to be dealt with," she said.

Caleb's mom said she doesn't expect charges, but she does want change.

Anna hopes to bring more awareness to Willard Schools and she wants students, teachers, and all bullies, to be held accountable for their actions, because they clearly left a lasting impression on her son.

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