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Retired judge talks rise in bullying after 10-year-old kills self

“This problem is deeper than a JCPS problem, this is a societal problem that needs an answer soon."

Retired Jefferson County Judge David Holton didn't know Seven Bridges, but he heard his story.

“At the very tender age of 10 years, imagine the pain that young man was going through,” he said.

Bridges' parents blame bullying for why the fifth-grade boy took his own life. That reason, one Holton witnessed one too many times during his ten years in the courtroom.

“The number of bullying cases were just amazing to me," Holton said. "It was so sad.”

MORE | 10-year-old takes own life, parents blame bullying

During his last year, he spent time in juvenile court. Holton said it’s where he sat through hundreds of bullying cases dealing with kids, some with endings as tragic as Bridges'.

“The whole attitude these days that you can say whatever it is you want to say to somebody and treat anyone anyway you want to treat them, it's just wrong," Holton said. "Where's the whole decency that we're supposed to have in society."

Bridges' parents said he was born with a condition that required a colostomy bag. Even after dozens of surgeries, his parents said the issue was reason for kids to poke fun.

“He just wanted to be normal, that's all,” his mother and father, Tami Charles and Donnie Bridges said.

Holton knows what it's like to be different.

“I lost my sight when I was ten years old. I was the blind kid in school,” he explained. “But I never had to encounter any taunting because of it. I don't know what's happened.”

Jefferson County Public Schools has reported eight suicides by students this school year. It’s unclear the circumstances behind each of those incidents, but Holton said it should be considered a public health crisis.

Holton notes that bullying has gotten worse, too. Much to blame, he believes, is social media sites where people can taunt others from hundreds of miles away.

“This problem is deeper than a JCPS problem, this is a societal problem that needs an answer soon before we have that ninth suicide of a Jefferson County Public School student this year," Holton said.

Holton retired as a judge, but still practices law as an attorney. He said there are laws in place that deal with threats and harassment, but they made need to be enforced more.

Bridges' mother said she does plan to pursue legal action.

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