MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A tearful crowd honored gathered at White Station High School Wednesday evening to rally against bullying and honor a student who took his own life last week.
Family members didn’t want to go into detail about 15-year-old Fernando Montiel’s death, but they say they found evidence he was bullied. Now they want to help other victims speak out against the practice. They’re asking people to do something about it.
“When you see something happening intervene, interrupt,” Fernando’s father, Enrique Montiel, said. “If you really want to show us your support and that you feel our pain, speak up.”
The family is starting an anti-bullying campaign. The color of their logo, orange, is championed by The National Bullying Prevention Center as a symbol of unity.
Fernando’s friends say they didn’t know he was being bullied. “I mean, anytime you saw him he was smiling,” a friend said.
Encouraged by Wednesday’s turnout, they’re confident his family’s campaign will make things better. “I mean, people who weren’t really friends with him came. It obviously affects people,” a friend said.
Fernando’s family is working with Shelby County Schools to address bullying. The school district says it’s creating a hotline and an app that students can use to report it.
“Our goal as a district is to protect all of our students and offer them a welcoming and nurturing environment,” Patricia Toarmina, with Shelby County Schools, said.
There are several hashtags associated with this anti-bullying campaign including #shareForFer, #MemphisSayNoToBullying and #MemphisDiNoAlBullying.