The parents of an elementary school student who took her own life want to help other parents avoid dealing with such loss.
David Petee said that his 11-year-old daughter, Hailey, took her own life on Sunday morning. He said that she just no longer could deal with the bullying she encountered.
“She was daddy’s little princess, who I’ll never get to hold again, never see another birthday,” David said. “I won’t get to see my little girl grow up.”
David described his daughter as bright, adventurous and someone who aspired to sing.
Behind her beautiful smile, though, was a deep sadness and fear, her parents said.
Mother Melinda Groce said that her daughter, a fifth-grader at London Elementary School, was tormented by her peers before and after school.
“She would cry every day coming home from the bus stop, every day she was crying, she didn’t want to get on the bus,” Melinda said.
Melinda said that Hailey was constantly bullied because she wore glasses and struggled with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Despite Melinda’s efforts to stop it, the bullying continued for more than a year. She said that her daughter just gave up Sunday morning.
“I saw her light on, so I thought she was awake, and I opened the door, and she was just hanging on the bed, and there was nothing I could do,” Melinda said.
The parents said that their daughter tried to stop the bullying. A few weeks ago, they found a piece of artwork that read, “Stop Bullying, Free Zone.”
We found this, she made a couple of weeks ago in school, for the reason of she wanted to put a stop to it,” David said.
Melinda, who said that Hailey was not bullied while in the school building, said that they would fight for other bullied children whose voices go unheard.
“This is not a joke,” Melinda said. “If these kids think it’s OK to do this to other kids because it’s funny to them, it’s not funny when you’re hurting another family. It may not be you, but you’re taking a kid away from someone else.”
School officials said that they were unaware of any recent bullying complaints involving Hailey but that such behavior at school is strictly prohibited and would not be tolerated.
The school planned to have grief counselors on hand on Monday to help other students deal with the loss.
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