tables turned

The 11-Year-Old Bullying Victim Arrested For Threatening To Shoot His Tormenters


Should 11-year-old Brenton Peraita make death threats — and suggest he wishes he had a gun — to deal with the bullies tormenting him at Riverbend Elementary in Yuba City, California? Of course not, and while calling in the police may have been a slight overreaction, I also don’t think it’s a terrible policy to take every precaution possible when it comes to students threatening bodily harm. But once we figure out Brenton’s punishment (he’s been arrested and charged with making criminal threats), how about we deal with the bigger picture?

Like the one where Brenton endures bullying whenever he’s at school, subjected to name calling (“Brentina,” “homo,” “fag”), having his glasses broken, and the usual threats that gay-perceived students face. Because Jose Peraita, his father, says they’ve complained to the school fifty times about the harassment, and nothing has been done.

“His reward for standing up for himself and saying, ‘I’m no longer going to be the victim,’ was a ride to the police department and a mug shot,” says Jose to Fox 40. No, that’s not true: Brenton was arrested because he talked about using a gun to silence his bullies, and that’s simply unacceptable. (Three other students involved in the incident were issued citations.)

But Jose and Brenton, who was also suspended, are right that more needs to be done to keep this boy safe in school. So what’s the school’s response? Here’s Bruce Morton, the school’s director of attendance and student welfare: “We understand that it does happen, and we’re not going to say it doesn’t. Let’s be realistic. But I will tell you when I heard ‘a year and a half,’ and there were ’50 times,’ I can tell you that number is way out of whack.”

Might Jose — who says his family doesn’t “have a gun,” as if that changes anything — be over-exaggerating in his claims of reporting bullying? Sure. But just one report should be enough to raise some serious red flags, where administrators realize they potentially have a dire situation on their hands. Brenton did something wrong, yes. The people responsible for keeping him safe, however, appear to have wholly failed him.


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  • christopher di spirito

    So, is the system telling the boy he should just stand there and take like a man? I hope we see more youngsters stand up and say enough.

    The system is failing these victims.

  • CertainPOV

    I work in a school and very often, usually after a student gets in trouble, the student or their parents bring up a laundry list of complaints that they say that they have made. Most of the time there no documentation or other evidence.

    If I am a parent and my child is having challenges at school, you can be darn sure that I have a copy of every letter (probably sent Certified Mail); and a log of every call and every meeting including who I spoke to on which date and at what time. I would be even more diligent if my child were being bullied or harassed. I’ll have my phone records to prove the calls, and I’m not opposed to taking a cell phone picture of anyone I meet with and emailing the picture to myself as proof.

    I hope that Mr. Peraita has all of his documentation ready and that he takes the school to task if they have not been responsive to his concerns. All of our communities have to take a stand to end bullying and school violence.

  • Kev C

    Less talking, more doing. Brenton, point out the bullies to your dad so he can smash them with a baseball bat. But don’t tell the cops because they’ll arrest your dad.

  • Francis

    These backwater, ignorant, rural areas aren’t gonna get the message nicely. That’s beyond clear at this point. They don’t care about gay folk, they don’t like us, and they dismiss us and pretend we don’t exist. While obviously this poor kid went too far with his actions, I’m surprised a story like this hasn’t happened sooner. These assbackwards school systems, towns and cities do not understand anything intelligent, of respect, or decency, so it’s time to hit them where it hurts. Sue these school boards and bankrupt them for their admission of homophobia.

  • Jim Hlavac

    Well, you know, as the schools are derelict in their duty, and many in society are urging on the violence and hate spewed at gay folks, and the Supreme Court just said it’s OK to do so 8-1, and the number of guns is pretty high, it’s a wonder that some poor young kid hasn’t taken matters into his own hands yet. I don’t advocate it, no. I sincerely wish it wouldn’t happen, just as so far it hasn’t. But when or if it ever happens I have the feeling the nation will wake up and smell some coffee. For when sissies fight back, it really scares the daylights out of heterosexuals.

    I can recall my own “anti-bullying” efforts in 9th Grade. Fortunately I was able to beat the living snot out of the two gang leaders — in well chosen moments and places, for maximum effect, while screaming “He calls me faggot one more time I’ll kill him,” as everyone around tried to pull this enraged young boy off of the rather shocked tormentors. I was not arrested. And then 10th through 12th grades weren’t so bad, either. And that was 35 years ago.

    Someone should set that kid up a defense fund. And I’d use the “free speech” defense, if I was the kid’s lawyer, quoting the Snyder/Westboro decision, and I’d throw in a 2nd Amendment right to self-defense argument while I was at it.

  • mike

    This kid did nothing wrong …

    he is 11 years old, and a policeman should have sat him down and explained why threatening someone with gun is not a good thing. And then the police should have arrested the bullies for assault and harassment!

    In this situation, the police and the school Principal are the ones who ought to have been arrested.

  • greenmanTN

    Yeah, yeah, threats are bad and all that, but I’d rather kids make threats than for one more gay kid to commit suicide. Unlike suicides, schools seem to actually pay attention to threats so maybe they’ll actually do something about the situation before it’s too late.

    Like CertainPOV says, parents have got to get better about documenting these incidents and their contacts with school officials! That goes for adults who are harassed at school or work too. It seems like half the country has a cell-phone surgically attached to their head and nobody can stub their toe without it ending up on Youtube, so why aren’t people using them to document harassment?

  • Joseph

    I think the school should to be blamed for cases like this.

  • Cam

    Schools always pull crap like this. MUCH MUCH MUCH easier to punish a good little kid, than to actually try to do anything about the bullying.

  • Riker

    @Jim Hlavac: The WBC decision is irrelevant, free speech has never applied to threats of violence.

  • stephennyc

    “Year and a half … 50 times” are examples of the nice round numbers often used as verbal shorthand to indicate a long time and a high number. More telling is the school official who said that 50 times was way off the mark, because it implies that the official, in fact, does know that the parents/kid have complained a number of times about the bullying.

    Since Columbine, zero-tolerance about weapons has become standard school policy throughout the US; I suspect that, here, the school was just following policy in referring the matter to the police.

    Unfortunately, most schools don’t have anti-bullying policies. Clearly, that’s something this school needs. Especially because there are, doubtlessly, more students suffering harassment.

  • Adonis-of-Fire

    I admire his courage, but he shouldn’t have even talked about it…
    He should have just done it :P

  • jeff4justice

    The Yuba City area is my hometown. It’s an anti-gay area where Prop 8 passed by around 70-80%.

    Even in CA there are still very anti-gay areas which are ignored by the big city gays and remain this way due to the fearful, apathetic gays.

    I started the first visible LGBT group there and led it ’03-’07. After I left the area, the group and LGBT visibility in the area disappeared sadly. There’s a population of 200,000+ folk there and yet no gay groups, no more openly gay public figures, no gay social scenes like a bar, and no proactively gay friendly church. The gays there escape to Sacramento and SF while the big city LGBT folk invest nothing in areas like that. All the equal right in the world won’t make those areas better for gays anytime soon nor will any 6-figure making executive director it seems.

    You can learn about my involvement in the area by checking out my It Gets Better For Adults vid series.

    The first one is at

    Keep up the good fight fellow activists.

  • QuestionAll

    Interestingly, I remember Yuba City has the largest Indian Sikh community in the U.S., though I don’t know if that has anything to do with the homophobia. Indians aren’t generally homophobic, but I don’t know about the Sikhs.

  • jeff4justice

    QuestionAll, the Sikh folk are pretty quiet on controversial political issues in the area.

    I have a vid of me trying to find marriage equality supporters at a Sikh festival in 2005 that I’ll add to my archive of vids of me doing activism in the area at soon.

    They certainly aren’t visibly proactively anti-gay.

  • HAL

    OK. So, as far as I can tell. The minimum age for criminal responsibility in California (as of 1997 though) is 14.

    Therefore… I’m confused. If he’s being charged by local police, then either that law changed, or they’re just being dicks until a judge throws it out.

    How lovely. Again, we can all agree that this wasn’t the right thing to do, but he’s 11. Yes, he should be suspended. Yes, he should have to go through mandatory counseling (possibly prior to returning to class). But charging him criminally doesn’t make sense… especially in this case as it doesn’t look like they CAN charge him criminally.

  • QuestionAll

    Thanks, Jeff, for the info. That’s sort of the impression I’ve gotten of Indians in general and various other Asian groups. Sometimes they’re moderately homophobic in a “stuffy” type of way when it comes to their own families, but not aggressively actively homophobic in judging what others do. That’s a generalization, I know, but..

  • Stefan

    I can totally relate to this. I went through somthing similar. I wasn’t arrested but was close to being suspended. The kid now tries to act friendly to me like nothing happened. I basically don’t give him the time of day.

  • Shannon1981

    Its the school principal/teachers/police who should be arrested, not this kid.

  • Brutus

    In 7th or 8th grade I told a kid in my class that I’d “blow him away with a pair of f*cking Uzis” if he didn’t shut up about taunting me for being gay. That was back in the ’90s, and all that happened was the gym teacher told me not to say such things.

  • Adonis-of-Fire

    As I said, one should not talk about killing, one should just do it, and make it appear an accident if possible.

  • Youtubinredneck

    The school should defianatly be punished the didn’t do crap to help this kid why should the child be punished for doing nothing wrong before the bullies did!

  • gorrain22

    The Illuminati, a secret global organization structure, has had a hand in this mess. Its two main sub-organizations are the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. In 1994, then President of the United States Bill Clinton signed into law a Gun Control Act to, amongst other things, provide for unreasonable Zero-Tolerance punishments meted out to hundreds of thousands of schoolkids like, for example, Brenton Peraita at Riverbend Elementary School, all throughout the United States of America. This is in concordance with the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx (1818-1883), which outlines arrangements for a total worldwide communist dictatorship. Those interested in finding out answers to why these schoolkid tragedies occur, as in the case of Brenton Peraita, amongst others, may visit the John Birch Society website at

  • violetb69

    I would of done the same thing as the father. As I myself as a mother of two just today my daughter came home in tears from being bullied I’m at my wits end. You hear these horror stories of teens being bullied to death and you wonder why? Nothing serious is being done about it. It really pisses me off. I mean whats it going to take do us parents really have to take a gun and take the law in our own hands? To protect our children? Land of the free? Land of opportunity? My daughter is a gate student straight A ‘s she’s a loner because she doesn’t blend into the ” so called gang type” we are not rich we can’t afford private schools and even that’s questionable? With a world with so much violence adults are raising children to be just like them! And our good kids are the ones suffering! It’s going to get to the point I’m going to have to pull her from school and home school her and I’m not that educated myself…

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