A family is still in shock after their 7-year-old son, a first-grader from Texas, took his own life in 2019. In a new interview, Jeffery Taylor’s parents are speaking out against the bullying the drove him toward suicide.
According to KHOU 11, Jermaine and LaKeisha Chaney say their son loved “God, church music, boxing, hats, costumes, and pranks. Their youngest son was known for getting up early or sneaking down to the kitchen in the middle of the night for a snack.
Jermaine and LaKeisha said he would often be found sleeping on the couch that morning, after enjoying a late-night snack. And although it’s been nearly two years since his untimely passing, the parents admit it’s been a struggle for them.
“It’s been a struggle. I put on this beautiful face, but inside I hurt because I miss my baby,” LaKeisha told KHOU 11. The grieving mother also recalled the moment she first learned her son was struggling.
It was December 20, 2019. Jeffrey has just climbed off of his school bus. As she told KHOU 11, his head was hanging low.
This was weird for LaKeisha to see, considering it was the last day of school and winter break was about to start. She remembers asking her 7-year-old son, “Why are you so sad? This is the last day of school? Should you be happy? It’s Christmas break!”
Jeffery admitted to his mom that he knows he should be happy, but he wasn’t, because it had been a bad day at school. That’s when he told his mom that nobody likes him.
“I should [be happy], but I’m not happy,” he told his mom. “I want to get away from that school. They don’t listen to me. They don’t like me.”
But it was so much more than that. Jeffery eventually told his mom that he was severely bullied. He was called the n-word, “black,” “snaggletooth,” and “ugly.” Students even went as far as to destroy a pair of his shoes and a pair of boots.
“It just seems like he just was being targeted and picked on,” Jermaine said. “He was just that one person that stood out.”
Sadly, LaKeisha admitted that no matter what she told her son that day, it was too late, “it wasn’t enough. He was already broken.”
According to KHOU 11, Jeffery was the only black student in his class. And they learned that he had been segregated from his classmates. Reportedly, at the conference, the parents say the teacher told them “Taylor might have been having issues with other students.”
Later that night, the night of December 20, LeKeisha and Jermaine returned home from an outing and kissed their seven children goodnight. The next day, LaKeisha noted it was weird Jeffrey was not awake yet, given he was known for being an early riser.
That’s when the parents asked one of his siblings to go check on him. It was then they discovered Jeffery.
LaKeisha was listening to gospel music on her headphone when her daughter pulled the headphones away to tell her Jeffery was “hard.” “When I went to that room, all I could do is just scream,” Jermaine said. “I just ran back out screaming at my wife. She couldn’t hear me.”
After learning what was going on, I “went straight to the room. I saw my baby laying there, like he normally is,” she said. “But when I looked to the left, I saw my gun. And I saw dry blood on my baby’s face.”
She said she just grabbed him, but she knew it was too late. “My baby was hard as a rock. Just hard as a rock. I put him back…and all I could do was run,” she told KHOU 11.
San Antonio Police responded to the scene and eventually called Jeremy death an accidental shooting. However, the parents say police never said they looked for signs of suicide.
LaKeisha and Jermaine are trained to handle firearms and admitted that they were unaware their kids even knew there were firearms in the home. And they say they take full responsibility for their son finding the gun under their bed in a bible case.
But they firmly believe the reason why Jeffrey went looking for the gun was beyond accidental. “I’m not sure what to think because my baby told me he was tired,” LaKeisha said. “With that different voice.”
After the parents revealed that they believe it was the incidents that took place at school may be to blame, the East Central Independent School District released a statement to KHOU 11.
“East Central ISD profoundly mourns the loss of Jeffery Taylor. He was a bright and well-liked student and we still, to this day, are in shock and disbelief over this tragedy. Our tight-knit community is filled with love, sorrow, and remembrance for Jeffery and his family. We continue to express our deepest condolences to his family, and our community is united in our compassion for healing and strength. We are saddened to hear about the allegations as any form of bullying, harassment, or violence is taken seriously and follows required state law, board policy, and District procedures. The District completed a thorough investigation with many teachers, staff, and classmates to determine if any bullying occurred. The investigation did not produce information to corroborate the allegations. The findings of the investigation were in a letter sent to the family on January 8, 2020.”
The statement further alleged that bullying was never brought up in the parent-teacher conference that occurred roughly a month before Jeffrey passed away. “East Central ISD provides ongoing training to its staff regarding bullying prevention and identification. Jeffery’s teacher had completed this training prior to the incident.”
In other audio recordings acquired by reports, Superintendent Roland Toscano told his mom that “Taylor had no academic issues. The elementary school student, described as a leader, had no problem calling out students who did not align with school rules. That, Toscano said, may have caused some contention.”
If you or someone you know is dealing with bullying, depression, or thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.
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