The family of ten-year-old Ashlynn Conner, who committed suicide on Friday night, has said that while they are not pointing fingers, they hope her tragic death will urge the authorities to identify and deal with bullying in US schools.
Speaking to the Georgetown-Ridgefarm School Board, in Illinois on Monday night, Lucas Connor, the young girl’s uncle said “No one knew how Ashlynn felt. She is giving us all strength to move forward and help stop this problem.”
Last Thursday Ashlynn told her mom, Stacy, that she wanted to be home schooled, that she was being bullied about her weight and that she had been called a “slut”. Stacy said she would speak to the school. Less than 24 hours later Ashlynn was found dead in a closet.
Her emotional uncle, speaking at the board meeting, urged children who feel they are being bullied to speak up and get help.
He said “We have to do something with this, we cannot let her life be in vain, this is an opening to help others. This was not an isolated incident, it has been going on for years,” reported Commercial News.
The family has cited bullying as the reason for Ashlynn’s suicide and they are urging the school board to tak action and implement anti-bullying programs.
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The Vermilion County Sheriff’s Department is investigation the allegations by the Conner family that bullying led to Ashlynn’s suicide.
Sheriff Pat Hartshorn said told Commercial News “We’ve interviewed the friends supposedly involved in it. We haven’t uncovered anything so severe that it would result in someone taking their own life.”
Ashlynn’s friends and family continue to be questioned as part of the ongoing investigation.
President of the school board Cheryl Kestufskie read a prepared statement. She said they were “saddened by the loss” and had “made counselors available”.
She said “We have cooperated fully with law enforcement officials and are awaiting the results of their investigation.
“We know there is a great deal of discussion about what role “bullying” may have played in this tragedy. We are confident that the police will shed light on this matter.
Kestufskie continued “[we] work extraordinarily hard to ensure that all of our children feel safe at school. We will continue those efforts and ask the community to assist us…If any child feels that he or she is being harassed, bullied or intimidated they should talk with his or her principal. If the child is not comfortable doing so, the child should tell a parent and the parent should contact the principal.”
Georgetown-Ridge Farm Superintendent Kevin Tate said everyone at Ashlynn’s shool is dealing with this loss. He said “Not only students, but staff are just devastated…We’ve had students die of illness and accidents, but this is different,” he said. “For a student as young as she was, it’s different.”
A vigil was held for Ashlynn at the Friends Church in Ridge Farm in Ashlynn’s memory. Her funeral is taking place on Wednesday. Her school Ridgefarm Elementary School will be closed so teachers and students can attend the ceremony.
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