Allegedly bullied boy commits suicide, parents call for change

Posted at 9:44 PM, Jan 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-26 00:47:36-05

MAGNA, Utah - Students, parents and community members gathered at a Magna charter school on Friday to hold a candlelight vigil for a boy who committed suicide almost two weeks ago.

Friends say 13-year-old Buddy Peterson was bullied by classmates at Alianza Charter School in Magna. They believe that's why he shot and killed himself at his Copperton home, leaving a note saying classmates verbally tormented him.

Parents say the conversation about bullying and suicide needs to continue and some laws in Utah need to change. Angela Cook and Kristie Fordston helped organize the vigil, saddened by stories of students who'd killed themselves after being bullied.

"I don't think that just going to the principal's office is going to cut it for a lot of kids," said Fordston.

Parents at the vigil say there should be more open communication about bullying and suicide, plus tougher discipline for bullies.

Stephanie Bowden, a family friend, says Buddy's parents tried to get him out of the situation, but the district put up a fight.

"His parents fought and went to the school weekly, even daily to get him out of the school. They fought the district. They wouldn't let him," Bowden said. "The school wouldn't let him enroll in his area school."

The Petersons say that under state law, if your child is in a charter school and the public school in your boundary is at capacity, the school doesn't have to let your child in. They hope Buddy's death will inspire legislators to change that law.