As the community is mourning the death of an 11-year-old girl, other victims of bullying met on Wednesday to figure out how to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.
Community members gathered at the Crossroads Community Church to pray for those affected by bullying less than a week after 11-year-old Hailey Petee took her own life.
Her parents said that she did so because she was a victim of constant bullying.
Courtney Lemaster, 14, said that the start of high school for her in the fall was actually the beginning of a nightmare.
“They threatened to beat me up, all the time,” Lemaster said. “In October, I tried to kill myself, and then after that, I tried to go back to school, and the bullying got worse, and in November, I tried to kill myself again.”
Lemaster’s mother, April Lemaster, said that the school tried to intervene, but her daughter decided to transfer schools.
“It takes a village to raise these children, and I think as a village, we need to stand up and say, ‘We’re done,’” April Lemaster said.
Pastor Thad Gifford of Crossroads Community Church said that the meeting was necessary after the death of Petee.
“We don’t have the answers, but hopefully we can come up with something that is going to help somebody somewhere, so this doesn’t have to happen again,” Gifford said.
Some attendees were as young as 9.
“They wrote bully-free zone on their hands, and every time they got bullied, they would show their hands,” said one young student.
Community leaders said that they planned to compile a list of suggestions from the meeting and present it to the district.
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