Dylan Bueno is buried. Did pressure from school contribute to his apparent suicide?

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Members of Dylan Bueno’s family look beyond his casket, listening to his classmates sing a tribute to their friend–Bob Braun photo

Where did I go wrong?
I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night,
Had I known how to save a life.

The Fray, “How to Save a Life”

 

Dylan Bueno–at 14, not quite a child and still not yet a young man–was buried Wednesday by his family. Five days earlier, he apparently committed suicide not long after he learned he would not be able to participate in his eighth-grade graduation from Newark’s Ann Street School.

Dylan’s  funeral was simple and short.  No church. No funeral Mass. Just a brief private service, mostly for family, at a Caldwell funeral home. Then a graveside service at Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington where the family was joined by scores of his Ann Street School classmates who sang an anthem to adolescent pain. The verse:

“Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend somewhere in the bitterness and I would have stayed up with you all night had I known how to save a life.”

It was the same song Dylan himself recorded in a video not long before he took his own life.

At the graveside service, Dylan Bueno’s parents hugged their son’s classmates from Newark’s Ann Street School–Bob Braun photo

The words to the song, among the few English words  heard at the cold, wind-whipped outdoor ceremony, seemed so right. Earlier, at the Lombardo Funeral Home, Rev. Karl Esker from St. James Church in Newark’s Ironbound, opened his homily in Portuguese with, “Não há palavras para descrever….” (There are no words to describe….)

Rev. Esker led prayers at the grave, too, and, when he was done,  that would have been the end but for the insistence of Dylan’s classmates to sing “How to Save a Life” and to open to the skies large plastic bags containing dozens of green, helium-filled balloons that whipped and snapped out of the children’s hands and dashed impatiently to  south and east, back in the direction of Newark and home.

“Green was his favorite color,” said a friend.

After the release of the balloons, Ariane Bueno and Adriano Ribeiro,  Dylan’s mother and father, hugged the Ann Street school students. Dylan has a 4-year-old brother, Henry.

Missing were representatives of Newark’s public schools, including his teachers, usually at students’ funerals. This was no surprise–because Dylan’s mother, in a dramatic Facebook posting,  attributed her son’s death, at least in part, to the actions of public school employees.

“His mother, she didn’t want them here,” said one of Dylan’s classmates.

Ariane Ferreira Bueno, Dylan’s mother, is a community activist among Brazilians in Newark’s Ironnbound section. Obviously drained by grief,  she said nothing publicly at the funeral. When Rev. Esker handed her a vial of Holy Water to sprinkle on her son’s casket, Ariane collapsed to the ground and lay, apparently unconscious, for several minutes.

Dylan’s classmates prepare to release balloons at his funeral–Bob Braun photo

 

But, a few days ago, Dylan’s mother had written a long Facebook posting in which she described her son’s depression and, while insisting she wasn’t blaming his teachers, she clearly was unhappy about his treatment at school.

She said the school had pressured her and her son and wanted her to accept medication for what school employees believed may have been an attention deficit disorder. Just a week before he apparently took his own life, Ariane said, school employees told him and her he would not graduate with his class.

Dylan’s mother contended the school–known throughout the city for its comparatively high scores–wanted him to be perfect:

“My son was beautiful, perfect, loved, intelligent, dear for all,” she wrote.

A spokeswoman for the Newark schools confirmed Dylan had been told he could not graduate with his classmates but would not go into details.

“There were issues,” the spokeswoman said, adding he was not the only child who would not be allowed to graduate. She would not characterize Dylan’s mother’s statements as inaccurate–or in any way.

The original of Ariane’s  Facebook posting can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/bobbraunsledger/?hc_ref=ART-H7kkFeH0QeY0Klbb8IQBUsb20ptUPqepSIkpkxBra0uC97Yxe_5o0fp4D5sc3_Y

This is a computer-generated English translation of  excerpts from Ariane’s post:

Ariane Bueno with her son Dylan. Family photo.

“My son has always been cheerful, playful, class clown. That he inherited from me. But there was something inside him that wasn’t right. Something I couldn’t take (away).

” I always talked to him about everything. I never hid anything from him. But he hid from me, that depression I don’t know where he started or why.

“He had a lot of problems at this school,  Ann (Street), not (with  grades), because he was doing (well) without studying and had high grades.

“He was very smart. But school wanted him a robot, can’t talk, can’t play, can’t make others laugh. They wanted to force me to give him medicine, medicine that would not be for a treatment of ADHD, but to leave him focused–robot, zombie, medicine that left him without sleep, without eating, without smiling.

” And I refused. That school put a lot of pressure on my boy, which I never did. I’ve always told him: Son, you don’t have to be the star of the class, for me it’s enough for you to have (grades) and pass the year.

Dylan with his parents and younger brother, Henry–from Facebook

“I’m not blaming school, but (it) contributed to his unhappiness. I wanted to move him from here, but he didn’t want it because he grew up with his friends, and he was going to graduate.

“He was discriminated against and left aside, watching his friends receive the (graduation) ring and he did not.”

The Newark Public School spokeswoman said Dylan had received his ring–but this may be a problem in the translation. Ariane’s comments could be read as describing how Dylan cried about his ring because, unlike his classmates, his ring would not signify his graduation.

“Last week they spoke to me and to him: that he could not do the graduation and receive his diploma and book.

“School rules? Yes! Our children have to be perfect to keep the level there on the perfect children!”

After Dylan’s funeral, his parents announced his eyes, heart and other organs had been donated to help others.

Dylan, right, with his parents and brother Henry, last Christmas–from Facebook

” My son,” Ariane Ferreira Beuno had written, “was beautiful, perfect, loved, intelligent, dear for all.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

27 comments

    • Rose

      I ask the the writer of this article get the facts straight. The parents made a specific request and the school complied. Fake news. Fake facts. Just another Magan Kelly

      • anon

        Dear,Rose
        As a former student at ann street school and one of Dylan’s closest friends you do not know what goes on in this school and if you dig enough you will find that this school is nothing but shit and discriminates students (excuse my language.)

  1. Kamillah

    Thank you for sharing this heart breaking story …. My heart goes out to the family and friend of this beautiful child…..I hate that this state is so quick to put our children on meds. Sometime all they need is that outlet. I’m a mom of 3 boys and I do no that mesicincebis not always necessary. I’m not a Dr , just a mom of boys .

  2. Robin Waldron

    Dear Mr. Braun: Certainly the suicide of anyone is tragic but especially for one so young . However, I sincerely doubt if he was told in early March that he would not be graduating. Plus, I find your article to only present one side. There is not an educator who would force a parent to put their child on medication they are not qualified. They might have suggested that they seek medical assistance. The mother clearly states her child suffered from depression. Was he seeing a therapist. To lay the blame or say a school contributed to his tragic death is plain wrong unless you have all the facts. Your story was definitely slanted against the school which is considered one of if not the best in the city. What ever happened to journalistic integrity? Many factors enter into a person taking their life There are no easy answers but it appears this young man had many more problems than just school pressure.

    • Sílvia

      In the article says “A spokeswoman for the Newark schools confirmed Dylan had been told he could not graduate with his classmates but would not go into details.”

      There may had been tons of other problems with the kid that we don’t know m, but sometimes it only takes a drop to make the cup overflow.

      • Bob Braun

        The question is whether anyone at the school could have, or should have, known the possible consequences of punitive action–and weighed those consequences against whatever, if any, worthwhile lesson was taught. Lawyers know they are responsible for the fortunes and freedom of their clients. Doctors, for health and, at times, life itself. School employees, especially those who make such decisions as who will and who will not march in a graduation ceremony, are responsible, often, for the soul of a child. Many of us survive and outgrow the consequences of mistakes made by responsible adults. Many feel the effects for life. Some cannot bear to live. The simple answers, I offer simplistically, are kindness and love. I don’t see much of either in the school’s treatment of Dylan Bueno.

    • Sad Mom

      @ Robin Waldron
      Oh do you want facts!? I got facts. Dylan it’s not the first child going thru this “school pressure” at Ann Street School. I have a 21 year old that graduated from this same school and went thru the same situation…got his ring but couldn’t walk beside his classmates because he had an altercation with a teacher in February of that graduation year, when he refused to remove a lucky bracelet given by a dying relative…i was called to school with no explanations given i was just told that my son lost all the priveleges to walk on stage on his graduation day because he disrespected a teacher by not removing the bracelet of his wrist when he was told to do so… not because of his grades or behavior during 8 years he attended Ann Street School (1st grade thru 8th he was an A&B student, had a C+ in 3rd grade)but because of a teacher that felt offended and embarrassed in front of my son’s classroom on one occasion only. I thought school was right, like always, because they make us parents believe that our kids are little demons and they need to do whatever a teacher or principal want, not as how they fee or express them selfs. Do you think this was also fair for my child? Do you have children? Or are you a teacher?Put yourself in Dylan’s mom’s shoes for one day. What do you call this???
      #SchoolBullingStudents.
      P.S.- my son survived the bullying…and is on his 3rd year of college in North Carolina to become an architect.

      • Kathe

        My children went to school in Union and I had issues in middle school not only with teachers but even with principals. But I don’t put up with anybody’s BS and I put them all in their place. I told every one of them my taxes pay your salary, you work for me, you do what I say! They tested me and they failed! Schools can be very over-reaching today. Teachers think that they can tell parents what’s best for a child because they see a kid for a couple of hours a day, 5 days a week, for less than nine months out of the year. When I had problems and didn’t get the results that I wanted, I just went over everybody’s head! I’d be damned if a school was going to tell me what to do with my children! Parents need to stop being afraid of principals and teachers and remember that your taxes are what pay their salary, they work for you, they are your employees and must be treated as such!
        I guess it’s in the genes, because back in the 50s my brother went to Blessed Sacrament in Elizabeth and one of the nuns put him under her desk and used him as a footstool for the entire day because he was a chitchatter. He went home and told my mother, the following day she approached the nun who did this and questioned her and when she went to tell my mother that Joe was too active my mother hauled off and gave her a right cross, right to the jaw! She then went and pulled him out of that school and put him in public school.

    • maria

      I had trouble with this shool as well. My brother went through hell in there. Letters were sent home to us by his teachers asking us to put him on meds and i refused. Until i got one from the principle at the end of the school year stating that unless i had proof that my brother had seen a psychogist he wouldnt be allowed in class in september. All because his 5th grade teacher couldnt stand that he played with his erasers and didnt get super high scores like his classmates. She called me up once yelling at me for letting my brother bring in and read a holocaust book which according to her, was not appropriate for his age(as long as he reads we allow him to read anytjing he wants).One time he had white socks on(he was 9) and the same teacher made him get up on a chair in front of every classmate and she made fun of him to intimidate him and to make him wear black or navy blue socks because she “lost points” if her students didnt have those colors on(that was my fault i dressed him that morning). He cried so much and hated school for the first time in his life from the very first year i put him in there. There was never anything wrong with him he was just energetic and i never gave him any drugs. An outsider, like those teachers, cannot tell me whats best for my brother. The school has some staff, that is overwheling. My whole family is relieved he is out of there and now a senior in highschool. Thank god we never have to deal with that staff ever again.

    • Ava Marie Pinho

      Robin I have to disagree schools are pressuring parents to medicate their children it has happened to me and several others I know it’s like they want ur child to be sitting in class and not be able to participate what they should of did was recommended him to have an evaluation to be certain he had ADHD not assume u know what they say about assuming just my opinion

    • Deb

      You couldn’t be more WRONG! Schools absolutely pressure parents to medicate and depression absolutely can come from the teachers continued thoughtless daily comments. You try showing up DAILY to a place that YOUR CONTINULLY you need to be fixed. Education is a pressure cooker nowadays and it starts in early elementary.

    • Delphine

      Strongly suggesting meds and threatening negative actions if you don’t can really be seen as forcing the child to go on meds. This occurs more often than you know. I know it for a fact.
      Can you consider that maybe YOU are biased?

  3. Jody Lordi

    The pressure that is put on our children is horrible they are children and society wants them to grow up way to fast !! This is completely heartbreaking, something has to change, our world is hard enough school should be a safe haven of learning and fun! This is where are children learn how to socialize. I’m not saying that this is a place to play but they need to be able to socialize they are still babies !!! While I no longer live in Newark this is my home this is where I grew up and this hits home for me! I have a 13 year old and he has teachers that get him and some that want him to be that perfect child as well! I love his one teacher who came to me to tell me how my son is disorganized but an amazing young man respectful and smart and that he wants to help him get organized so that he can be more prepared for the world so he kept him after school not as a punt but to help him because he sees my boys potential but also knows that he is a 7th Grade boy that can be silly and goofy at times !!!! That teacher gets it !!!! Prayers for this family no parent should have to bury a child especially a child that took their own life 🙏🏻🙏🏻😔😔

    • Thais Lima

      I have three children and I can not imagine going through this situation … I do not know if I would be strong to endure … I do not understand how such a “renamed” school did not provide any clarification or did not intend to change its concepts of teaching after what happened and after so many denunciations … how can such a rigid education be above the life of a child, my God … it was only a child … how much coldness, how much neglect, what is happening to this world? #brasilapoiaAriane #vidasperdidas #chegadedescaso

    • Bob Braun

      Your note is wonderful. Don’t worry about the typos. We all make mistakes. Even kids. You’re very lucky to find teachers who want to help, instead of punish, disorganized children.

  4. Fabi Bastos

    Humiliation is not education.
    My daughter was humiliated/bullied by her first grade teacher in one of Newark Public School 7 years ago. I noticed she was becoming sad and depressed going to school. One day I talked to my husband and we decided to homeschool her. I’m brazilian and my first language is portuguese, but for me it was more important her emotions than academics. Today she is happy and excited to go to Public High School after all these years homeschooling. We don’t live in Newark anymore but I understand what happened with Dylan could be my daughter. In my opinion any school or teacher who uses humiliation as a tool for education should be punished. Period.
    Ariane and Family, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m crying with you all. May God strengthen you and your family with love and peace.

  5. Kamilly Sena

    This is a really sad story I remember always seeing Dylan in class always smiling, I miss him so much & he never got his ring

  6. Nubia Andrade

    It should not be easy for teachers to deal with a class of students where, most of the time, they have those who are hyperactive and others that are not as hyperactive but have a deficit of attention. But, this should not be the reason for excluding students to receive a diploma or participate in any events the school promotes, once grades are enough to pass. People like this, even want to behave better and assimilate more than what is taught, but do not, because of their condition.
    However, such fatalities should be taken into consideration in order for us to have empathy for these children.
    Excluding does not help at all, on the contrary, it helps give up living (in the case of this teenager and many others).
    “Last week they spoke to me and to him: that he could not do the graduation and receive his diploma and book.
    “School rules? Yes! Our children have to be perfect to keep the level there on the perfect children!”
    I once wrote a letter to a superintendent of school, about 5 years ago, which I never got an answer, asking them to have more compassion with kids with ADD/ADHD.
    My hope is that the education system can review some of the rules that are applied.
    On the other hand, as parents, we also need to help our children overcome the frustrations of life, not everything happens the way we want. Frustrations will always come…but life is more.
    My condolences,
    May God comfort the family.

  7. Tony

    There is definitely something wrong with that school. I attended that school in the mid 80s and trust me even after going to summer school because one of the teachers failed me I was still kept back even though I had passed my summer courses. I remember returning back in September of that year and having a meeting with this teacher and the vice principal and she made her point and kept me back for one more year. Apparently I wasn’t the only one that she kept back that year if I’m not mistaken there had to be at least seven of us that she kept back and I feel to this day it was because we didn’t give her a Christmas present.

  8. Pingback: News Roundup & Open Thread for Friday, March 16, 2018 | Blue Jersey
  9. ANONymous :\

    I was one of Dylan’s closest friends
    they should give the school a lawsuit or try to shut the school down I have seen many things in this school everything here is hush hush…From bullying,suicide,kids skipping school,others sneaking in little weapons.
    Me and Dylan shared many things in common including our suicide attempts,depression,and being admitted in the hospital if you would like to know more… by all means send me an e-mail.The way our school handles things is very manipulative…They tried putting him on meds because to make him look as if he was crazy and if he said something against the school they would claim he was “insane” and use his depression and meds against him…

  10. Kathe

    Reading all these posts, it sounds to me like most of the parents are not from America, English is not their first language, some may be here illegally as well and I think that the school is BULLYING the parents knowing that they’re able to because either these parents are afraid to say something or don’t know that they’re able to say something!

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