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Angela Suttner, Kenny's mom, talks to the WVPI

March 6, 2018

In a groundbreaking case that ignited the national conversation on bullying, a Missouri coroner's jury found in January 2017 that Kenneth Suttner's suicide resulted from harassment at work and school. 

 

Thereafter 17-year-old Kenny's former supervisor was arrested, booked and charged with manslaughter.

 

 Kenneth and Angela Suttner, (c) Suttner family collection.

 

 

Kenny, a high school junior at the time of his death on December 21, 2016, was and is the beloved son of Mrs. Angela Suttner, an American mother and staunch anti-bullying advocate. 

 

Angela kindly sat down with us to discuss Kenny and the national tragedy that is workplace and school-based bullying.

 

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Q:  Angela, I understand you are keeping up with reports of Americans who complain about being bullied and harassed in schools and the workplace.

 

What are your thoughts on the status of these issues in America today?

 

A:  I find each and every story very sad, heartbreaking and many hit so close to home. These tragedies seem to be on the rise and it is very alarming. The common thread is that people who are in the position to act against bullying in schools and the workplace do not do so for whatever reason.

 

I am outraged by how many parents have come forward and talk about what they have experienced, how many times they were brushed off by school administrators when the conversation of how their child was being mistreated was brought up. We all get told the same thing "we will take care of it" and then nothing ever gets done. 

 

This ugliness called bullying will continue. Children will continue to be mistreated- tormented for being different, the rise of school age children taking their lives will continue.

 

School shootings won't stop until people are able to come together, understand that they are all connected to the same problem and everyone does what we can to make a change.

 

How many innocent children will we have to lose as a nation to make a difference??? 

 

Our children deserve safety while learning.

 

School-aged working children and adults deserve safety in the workplace. 
 

Q:  I am very curious to learn how Kenny got the nickname "KennyBug."

 

Could you please tell us about this nickname and how Kenny acquired it?


A:  Kenny's nickname KennyBug started at a young age...he was a little water bug, and it just stuck with him... KennyBug.

 

His Dad { Michael} was also called Bug as a child by his siblings and still does. 

 

 Angela and "KennyBug," (c) Suttner family collection

 

 

 

Q:  To those reading this who don't know much about your son, what would you like them to know about Kenny?

A:  KennyBug was the best of all of us in one beautiful soul. He was kind, caring, nurturing, compassionate, empathetic, and wanted to so badly believe in the goodness of people. I have received messages from people who only met Kenny once but his kindness and smile was enough to remember him. He loved his family unconditionally, he was protective of his brothers, even me..... his Mom. To see someone hurt or sad crushed him and he would do what he could to make you smile. Kenny had the best smile and the most contagious laugh... and a wonderful sense of humor.


Kenny was very tall and big in size and he was very aware that he could very easily hurt anyone, especially the kids who taunted and bullied him.. but he was so gentle, his hugs, his play with his brothers, cousins, he would never hurt anyone for any reason. 


He loved art and was very talented, reading was his favorite past time... he loved to just sit outside on a nice day and read. 


Kenny was known as the baby whisperer, he loved babies..animals, nature in general. He loved being in and around water. 

 

As his mother I can not fully put into words how wonderful our son was... I could go on forever!

 

Kenny:  The kind and gentle"baby whisperer," enjoying a day of fishing nearby the water, a place he loved to be.  (c) Suttner family collection.

 

 

Q:  Angela you are an anti-bullying advocate and have said you never want another child or adult to suffer the tragic effects of bullying. What advice can you give to a person or the parent of a child who is being bullied?


A: The most important advice I would give to anyone being bullied or the parents of a bullied child is PLEASE report it, write down dates, what was discussed, what happened after you reported the abuse. We are too trusting with people in control or higher power.

 

If you are an adult in a workplace dealing with harassment and bullying...take the same measures... document what you can until someone listens. 

 

Q:  You are also a proponent of Senate Bill 791 which is known as "Kenny's Law" in honor of your son Kenny and which has been sponsored by Senator Jamilah Nasheed in Missouri.

 

Why do you support this proposed legislation?

A. I am very passionate about S.B. 791 Kenny's Law getting passed.

 

Under this act, involuntary manslaughter in the second degree also occurs when a person KNOWINGLY incites any person to commit suicide, including through the use of telephone or electronic communications,and such incitement results in the death of a person.

 

As of right now there is no clear cut law that allows the prosecution of a person who falls under these requirements.

 

I truly believe that this law will deter cyber-bullying, bullying by phone, and any and all social media bullying if these perpetrators know that they can and will be held accountable and punished by law.

 

 

Note:  In January 2018, the manslaughter charges against Kenny's former supervisor were dropped. However she is still charged with other crimes including assault, harassment and  stalking.

 

 

Q:  Last month you made the trip to Jefferson City and were in attendance when S.B. 791 was being addressed at the State Capitol. 

 

What was that experience like for you?

 

A: The experience of being in front of the Senate was very surreal. We as a family were not sure what to expect going in.

 

We walked in proud to support the bill, and in honor of our KennyBug but it was also very emotional and hard that we were even there asking for such a bill.

 

Senator Nasheed is a great support, (Special Prosecutor) April Wilson is amazing and spoke with brilliance, (Howard County, Missouri Coroner) Frank Flashpoler spoke of Kenny as he was anyone and everyone's son... and that is when we all broke down in tears.

 

In that moment I felt like for Kenny we were going to hopefully help so many just as he would want us to do. 

 

Missouri state Senator Jamilah Nasheed (Twitter) 

 

 

 

Q:  Is there anything else you'd like to say that we have not covered?

A: As I stated earlier KennyBug loved his family.. and we all loved him dearly. He was a Son, Brother, Uncle, Grandson, Nephew, Cousin and Friend and he is missed so deeply and painfully by us all!

 

 

 

"Hi Mom!" Stills from Angela's video of 11-year-old Kenny being picked up by her at the bus stop following a day at school.  (c) Suttner family collection.

 

 

 

 (c) Joseph Bonczyk 2016, Vice President WVPI

 

Read about Joseph from bullying victim to anti-bullying advocate here:  https://www.workplaceviolencepreventioninstitute.org/single-post/2017/05/30/A-few-words-by-Joseph-Bonczyk-on-Bullying

 

 

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