Bullying questions raised after TN 13-year-old commits suicide - WKRN News 2

Bullying questions raised after TN 13-year-old commits suicide

Posted: Updated: April 25, 2013 07:40 PM
COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. -

Coffee County is confronting a difficult, emotional question this week after the suicide of a 13-year-old girl.

Some parents and members of the teen's family believe that bullying from other students at a local middle school led the young girl to take her own life.

The issue has exploded on Coffee County social media with other parents sharing stories of their own sons and daughters being victims of school bullies.

One of those parents is Denise Rogers, who just started the Facebook page called "Coffee County Parents Against Bullying".

"I created the page so parents could come together to find a solution," she told Nashville's News 2 on Thursday at her Coffee County home.

In just four hours, it had more than 2,100 visitors with some sharing stories like what has happened to her own daughter on a local school bus.

"She is physically assaulted as she walks down the aisles, they intimidate her, and act like they are going to hit her again, they joke about it and say we should just punch her again," Denise explained. "They use her now because she has been bullied so badly, they call her names; slut, whore. She's 12!"

Denise says there's a link between her daughter and the 13-year old girl who committed suicide.

"My daughter shared with me last night that she shares a bully with the child that passed away this week," she said. "My daughter attends Coffee County Middle School like the other girl did."  

A family member of the teen who died told Nashville's News 2 that "it wishes for privacy now, but believes the suicide was because of bullying."
 
The issue is a troubling one for Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves, who said his department is talking to students about the 13-year-old's suicide and other incidents that parents describe as bullying.
 
"We have not spoken to a single kid, and we have more to talk to. that saw this bullying going on," Graves said.

"I am reading the same things on social media that parents are reading," he continued. "We hope we are able to put a reason for a 13-year-old to take her own life, but right now we don't have a reason."

Denise Rogers said school officials told her they would handle the bullying, but nothing has changed.

"People are really getting hurt and we need to stop it before another child loses their life," she said sadly.

The sheriff challenged parents and kids to tell him first hand what's being talked about on social media and around town.

"Come to us, we have got a school resource officer. That's what they're there to handle," he urged parents and students.

School officials at Coffee County Middle School referred comment to the schools director, Dr. LaDonna McFall.

A statement from Dr. McFall sent late Thursday afternoon to Nashville's New 2 said, "Our school family is devastated by the loss of [the 13-year-old]. She was intelligent, well liked, and respected by her peers and her teachers. We join our entire community in grieving for her family."

The school also sent notes to parents indicating that grief counselors have been made available to students at Coffee County Middle.

News 2 has chosen to not release the name of the student or show her picture per the wishes of the 13-year-old's family.

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