Posted by on January 24, 2020 7:08 pm

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Categories: Local News

We’re learning more about the sudden death of a Branchdale teen earlier this month.

Fourteen-year-old Carter Larkin-Kukta took his own life at the age of 14 on January 13, 2020. He was laid to rest earlier this week.

carter larkin kukta

(Photo: Courtesy of Ken Eckert Jr.)

And according to a social media post purportedly from a family friend, we know that Carter was the victim of bullying. The post is going viral on Facebook right now. Thousands are sharing it and offering their sympathies and sharing their bullying stories.

Now, the parents and friends of Carter ask the public to refrain from sympathies and condolences. Instead, they say it’s time to take action against bullying.

We know that bullying happens in every school. You don’t have to search too hard to find a family with a child that’s living their lives in fear of a bully. And in every case that we’ve read or heard directly, it’s the “adults” in charge that fail to get ahead of the situation and take swift action.

Parents of Bullied Branchdale Teen Plead for Awareness and Change

Rather than action taken in their defense, the bullied often get the brush-off. That’s what happened to Carter.

Here’s the message family friend Ken Eckert Jr. posted on behalf of Carter’s parents.

Eckert writes in his introduction to the message:

I would like to share that we are in the process of having a custom sticker on my racecar this year, in memory of a very special young man, Carter Larkin-Kukta. Carter was the son of a long time good friend of my wife and I, Trish Larkin and Mike Kukta. Please take a moment to read about Carter below, written by his parents for us. It is not only heartbreaking, but powerful.

The Canary reached out to Eckert for permission to share this post. Here’s what Carter’s parents wrote:

Carter was a 14 year old kind and caring, smart, special needs boy. His passion for electrical and mechanical projects showed by the age of 2. He was actively involved in Boy Scouts, trap shooting, riding his ATV and he enjoyed hunting. He loved animals and didn’t care about the latest styles. He watched cartoons and read books based on them. He was looking forward to an upcoming Scout trip and VoTech next year.

Carter had the full support of his family in every aspect of his life. He chose to spend money on various types of light bulbs, electrical equipment and trap shooting items. He was only 14, but he already had a car. He spent his time with his family, his scout troop, and his trap team. He made an impact on the lives of everyone that truly knew him.

He was happy, except in one aspect of his life: School. Carter was bullied since 5th grade by a group of boys because he loved his pets; because he watched a “girly” cartoon; and because name brand clothes and shoes were the least of his concerns. These boys were “talked to” on multiple occasions but they were just “kids being kids”. The “talking to” only made the bullying worse. Carter would talk to us but he stopped giving names, for his own sake. He knew we couldn’t go in to the school without a name. We begged him to hit them, just once, but he was a rule follower. On Monday, January 13, 2020, after almost four years of this, our son ended his torment.

We don’t want your sympathies and condolences. We want awareness and change. Teach your children to be kind; to stick up for each other. Hold bullies accountable for their actions. We can’t save our son but we want to save the next family from experiencing this terrible pain.

According to Carter’s obituary, in his short time here on Earth, he was a busy kid definitely with an eye on the future. And it’s clear he had a passion for the things that interested him. He was a member of Boy Scout Troop 600, Llewellyn, the Williams Valley Trap Team and Muddy Creek Sportsman Club.

25 responses to Parents of Bullied Branchdale Teen Plead for Awareness and Change

  1. Trish Larkin and Mike Kukta January 24th, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing our son’s story.

    Reply

    • Lucille myro January 24th, 2020 at 11:44 pm

      I am so sorry for your loss. May heavenly father be with you all at this trying time.

      Reply

    • Donnarae corby January 25th, 2020 at 5:46 am

      Trish, I will never forget the text you sent me after me husband passed away and how much it meant to me. You made the comment about me being so strong….its been hell and a struggle everyday…losing a husband is one thing but I CAN NOT imagine losing my chilrden….YOU are one of the strongest person I know. To lose a child the way you did and to come forward to try and help other children and familys is amazing. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND THE TRUE FRIENDS CARTER HAD 💗 stay strong, take it one day at a time and continue your fight against bullying. RIP CARTER💕🙏🙏💕 DonnaRae

      Reply

      • Trish January 25th, 2020 at 2:20 pm

        Donnarae,

        Thank you. I still mean it. You are strong and raised amazing girls! We raised and are raising amazing boys and we know it! That’s what keeps us going.

        Reply

    • Maria Millet January 25th, 2020 at 11:11 am

      So sorry for your loss. The lack of accountability sickens me. It happened to me and now happens to my daughter. The more reports, the worse it gets. (((Hugs)))

      Reply

  2. Jessica ROBISCH January 25th, 2020 at 12:16 am

    Well said I totally agree with you and I also think the parents should be accountable for it too and the school thank you I support the idea 100 percent

    Reply

  3. Claudia January 25th, 2020 at 5:31 am

    May the bullies be tormented every day of their miserable lives as they recall memories of the treatment they bestowed on your son. You are strong in sharing your story and caring so much that another life may be saved. Lord, have mercy on the bullies’ souls and lift up all involved.

    Reply

  4. Sue January 25th, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Bullying is not ever nice in fact it’s hurtful please teach your children to have a kind word I am so very sorry for your loss he is a very special angel now God Bless

    Reply

  5. Amber January 25th, 2020 at 10:56 am

    It’s so sad and upsetting to see that other kids can hurt another so bad that it leads to this kind of pain.. lots of prayers sent to this family… If I could talk to every kid I would… Kids today are evil and very cruel…it’s time adults push back on the bullies … It’s the only way… Talking doesn’t help … It’s time to put in some action on these type of kids… Fine them get them locked up make them feel how it feels to be bullied …because one thing these kids forget there’s always gonna be someone bigger an tougher then them… I’m with you… ##fight against bullies##

    Reply

  6. Stacy January 25th, 2020 at 11:38 am

    We learned years ago that the bullies have all the rights NOT the victims😢

    Reply

  7. Ginny Kauffman January 25th, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My 3 sons were also bullied and nothing was really done about it except for “talking to” the bullies about their actions. As you stated, it only made the bullying worse for my boys. They stopped telling me it was still happening because they knew it would only make the situation worse. My boys never fought back either. My heart breaks for you and your family. I hope things change soon,I pray they make worse punishment for the people who are bullies so that maybe other children will refrain from ever becoming a bully if there is harsher punishments! Keeping you and your family in my prayers and thoughts, God Bless you all. 🙏❤

    Reply

  8. Deb B January 25th, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    So sorry to read this story on Facebook. May this young man RIP and the bullies think about what they did to this young man everyday for the rest of their lives. I hope the schools can soon figure out a way to stop this bullying.

    Reply

  9. Anonymous January 25th, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Apparently Minersville schools do nothing about bullying! This happened to my son 20 years ago, I used to be late for work every day for 2nd shift because I had to stand outside the school waiting for my son because the kids were after him every day. So if they didn’t do anything about bullying in 20 years I doubt if they ever will!

    Reply

    • Kevloni January 27th, 2020 at 11:29 pm

      They don’t I graduated from there in 2004 I was sexually harassed in gym class, I reported it and the teacher told me I didn’t see so I can’t do anything about it. On another occasion I had a teacher hit me with one of the lunch tables I had students constantly making fun of me and throwing food at me, I have been trapped up against lockers right next to the guidance office while I scream for help they ignored it. It was that way til my senior year. Mentally it caused a lot of damage as far as trust issues and being afraid to let anyone in. Always felt I was the outcast. This young man died over feeling like an outcast, my question is how many more before the school stops it where it starts? I have children and I tell them not to be nasty to people because you don’t know what a person is going through to begin with and also because I know how it feels to feel completely alone it isn’t fun and it hurts a person to the core.

      Reply

  10. Brenda January 25th, 2020 at 7:09 pm

    I am so sorry for the loss of your son Carter and everyone else who has lost a loved 1 from bullying. I think Parents should also be just as much in fault as there children. May God Bless you in this very difficult time and Prayers and Hugs to your family

    Reply

  11. Greg January 25th, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    Bullying happens when one person thinks they are better than another. Whether it is the clothes they where or how rich the family is compared to another, or if the person is just different from the rest of the class. Parents need to do a better job teaching their kids the golden rule. Do onto others as they would do onto you, or treat people like the way you would like to be treated. It would go along way. So sad.

    Reply

  12. Anonymous January 25th, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    Sorry for your loss. I just wonder how these bully’s sleep at night knowing they pushed hard enough to have a child take there own life. Shame on you grow up. My granddaughter got bullied so much she had to start Cyber school to get away from these rotten bullies it’s sad the victims lose and the bully’s keep winning it’s about time these schools start helping these victims not the bully’s. What’s wrong with ppl today..
    .

    Reply

  13. Iva Hallick January 25th, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    I am sooo sorry to see this happen to Your Family…My deepest Condolences and Prayers go out to You …This should never happen to any Child but sadly it happens in every School…Parents need to step up and take control of their Children and make them understand the consequences of what could happen to Anyone including them..Schools need to take action and make these Children aware that this will not be Tolerated…This is heartbreaking to know what this Child and many others have to endure everyday at the hands of these heartless Bullies…NO Excuse for this Behavior and Action must be taken Immediately…😪

    Reply

  14. Mona weaser January 26th, 2020 at 2:05 am

    If these parents of the bullies would concentrate on teaching their kids to be nice and kind as much as they concentrate on the phones, and dope there might be hope. Schools need to acknowledge the problem as well. I sure hope the names come out.

    Reply

  15. Carol Anne Kalinich January 26th, 2020 at 8:13 am

    I firmly believe that the school Districts all of them should bring in former Bullies and the Bullied, do a program once a month on this. Not enough time can be spent on trying to get through to assine kids who think this is funny until they are on the receiving end. This happened to my grandson and the Principal of Blue Mt. at the time thought it was a joke, even when I told him that he stated to me that he didn’t belong, he was sick of it and that he should just end his life. I remember crying hysterically in his office and he more or less told me to suck it up. My word, this is so serious, it’s like a plague and don’t the powers to be take great concern in stopping health concerns, well let’s get on the ball here, let’s start programs if the schools are lax, at least do something. This is awful, inexcusable and sickening.

    Reply

  16. Michele January 26th, 2020 at 10:05 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. My daughter was bullied at school 10 to 15 years ago and minersville rewarded the bullies. Minersville did nothing to help my daughter. We tried to help our daughter and we where reprimanded. I also feel that things will never change in minersville. God bless you and your whole family

    Reply

  17. Matt Joy January 26th, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Mike/Trish,
    First and foremost- I am very sorry to hear such sad news. I never had the pleasure of meeting your son Carter. However, if he was like his dad the way I still remember him around that age, I’d say he was probably a heck of a good guy and I’m sure he made a positive lasting impression on anyone he met. I hope you both can find peace and pull through this heart wrenching time.

    Secondly- I want to say that my wife and I support you both 100% with bringing the bullying to an end. Bullying creates extensive damage to not only the victim but the family as well. We both graduated from the same school as Carter’s. We still to this day remember the corruption of the school with them coddling the bullies rather than taking action. I was bullied from 3rd to 12th grade by punks, jocks and the “in-crowd”. If you didn’t have a certain last name, wear expensive clothes, play a sport, or you weren’t a cheerleader you didn’t exist to anyone and it was very clear. I personally remember being bullied so badly because of my differences in clothing, lack of ability to focus in class, a nervous condition, lack of a lavish lifestyle at home, being “way too jumpy” if someone was pretending to try and hit me and any other way to possibly “one up” me. It went on for so long that I would make my parents late for work on a daily basis because they would have to drag me out the door to get me to school. I used to fake being sick so i can go home as much as i could. All I ever wanted was to fit in like everyone else and feel accepted. I know what it is like to be bullied and it is nothing to smile about. When my mom would go to the school about it and inform those in charge, the school would “have a talk with the bullies” and turn the other way for those rotten pr!cks to get revenge on me every.. single.. time. 14 years ago I graduated from that school and I despise it just as much as i did my last day there strictly because of the negligence of the staff and ignorance of the jocks & snobs. I remember The teachers would even come up with snide remarks to make fun of my attention disorder and caused the kids to torment me with it endlessly. ‘Til this day, i still see the people who harassed me and I remember everything that they put me through. Bullying cuts deep and those wounds never heal. That school’s atmosphere and small town mentality has not changed one bit since we left it. They don’t take the time to observe what is going on and help end it. MAHS is a toxic environment.

    It is time to turn up the heat and bring the bullying to an end. We all know it exists. There is no excuse for anyone to take away a person’s self esteem especially to the extent they have done to your poor son.

    You guys have our support.

    We hope time will help to ease your pain.

    —-—

    If you see someone getting bullied, SPEAK UP and make a difference! You never know what a person is going through and what they may or may not me dealing with when they go home at night. Life is difficult enough for all of us the way it is… there’s no need to add more to it.

    Reply

    • Leiloni January 27th, 2020 at 11:44 pm

      Hey matt,
      I don’t know if you remember me, my name is leiloni Benjamin, I graduated minersville 2004. I never bullied anyone but I know how it feels. I’m with all of you on ending bullying. I was pushed almost to suicide at least 6 times in that school. I was dealing with all kinds of things, including sexual harassment and the staff did nothing and left it continue. Even though I survived it it doesn’t mean it don’t affect me today because it does. I have a family of my own now and I tell my children don’t bully other children because it leaves scars that never goes away.

      Reply

  18. Is Your Child's School Letting the Bullies Win? - Coal Region Canary January 30th, 2020 at 4:58 am

    […] Parents of Bullied Branchdale Teen Plead for Awareness and Change […]

    Reply

  19. Edward Dragan February 18th, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    Cameras need to be placed at every (and I mean every) angle of the entire school property and be tested once a week. If you see anyone being abused in any way SPEAK OUT, SPEAK LOUDLY, tell at lest (5) people, call the POLICE. The police are required to respond to all calls for help. Abuse is abuse, if you are 5 years old or 105 years old. Abusers (bully’s) are not just in schools, they are EVERYWHERE. If you are a staff member in ANY school and you witness a child being abused in ANY way and you DO NOT speak up or call the police, ‘then’ SHAME ON YOU. Working in a school and being around children is the ‘WRONG’ job for you. ALL children have a right to be SAFE FROM HARM while on school property. From the many posts that I am reading, it is time for lawyers to be involved. I understand that good lawyers costs quite a bit of money to hire. (BUT) if a large group of parents get together and all chip in, they could hire a fantastic lawyer. Once lawyers are involved, the school staff will now look at the situation a lot differently. Do not give up! Do not give in! Fight for what is right!

    Reply

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