Opelousas city officials to hold bullying forum following 12-year-old’s death

OPELOUSAS, La (KLFY) – In St. Landry Parish, Opelousas city officials are raising awareness and spreading a message to put an end to bullying in light of a young live loss to suicide as a direct result of bullying.

“We’ve been just inundated with calls about bullying,” said Opelousas Mayor, Reginald Tatum.

This comes just days after the death of 12-year-old Ja’Qwanta Goodley, who was a student at Opelousas Junior High.

Mayor Tatum says he’s been contacted by several concerned parents since the tragedy occurred.

“Parents saying that their kids are also being bullied, at not only this one school, but all over the parish,” explained Mayor Tatum.

The abundance of phone calls has triggered city officials to start a dialogue between parents and kids to discuss ways to prevent bullying moving forward.

“We’re not here to bash, it’s not going to be a bash session,” said Mayor Tatum. “There’s going to be some information passed out, but it’s going to be basically to find out solutions.”

Mayor Tatum says the goal is to prevent another death like Goodley’s from happening again, and to let children know they have someone to confide in.

“We need to develop some kind of plan, something where they know that they can turn to us as an adult or even a peer,” explained Mayor Tatum. “There needs to be something in place that they don’t feel so hopeless and they feel that death is the only way out.”

Through Goodley’s death, the mayor wants to stress the importance of coming forth with information and not waiting until it’s too late.

“They know about it, but no one says anything, then immediately after something like this happens then everybody comes to the forefront and says ‘well, yea I knew about it’ and ‘I heard about it’, and no one came forward,” said Mayor Tatum.

The forum will take place tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the city council chambers at Opelousas City Hall. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Mayor Tatum says he invited St. Landry Parish Schools Superintendent, Patrick Jenkins, as well as school board members to attend the forum.

The mayor also says this will be the first of many forums on this particular topic.

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