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Student death in California highlights bullying issue

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A 13-year-old California boy has died more than a week after being punched in an attack by two boys that was caught on video.

The middle school teen — who has been identified only by his first name, Diego — was pronounced clinically dead on Tuesday night, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. Diego had been hospitalized since the Sept. 16 attack at Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, Calif., roughly 65 miles east of Los Angeles. The sheriff’s department said Diego’s family will donate the boy’s organs “to transform this tragedy into the gift of life for other children.”

Families in the 33,000-student Moreno Valley Unified School District reacted with grief and outrage after the attack. Parents and students gathered last Friday in a “Ditch for Diego” protest that went from a nearby community park to the district’s registration office. Diego’s death Tuesday night prompted more memorials, vigils — and heated confrontations with district officials whom some parents and students accused of mishandling what they call a pervasive bullying problem.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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