The next time another person tries to tell you that bullying is mere child’s play, make sure you point them to the story of A’layah Weatherspoon, a beautiful nine-year-old Michigan girl, who committed suicide after being tormented by other students at her school.
The Oakland Press recently reported that on Jan. 4, A’layah’s little brother found her hanging from a leather belt tied to her bunk bed. The third grader, who attended Cooley Elementary School in Waterford, MI, died two days later.
Charles Weatherspoon and Charity Wade believe the intense bullying that started when she entered the second grade led to their precious daughter’s tragic death. According to them, other students would “call A’layah names and make fun of her braids, the texture of her hair, tell her she was ugly and that nobody liked her.”
When she entered the third grade, the bullying escalated, but her parents admit they never reported it to school officials because they didn’t believe it was taking a major toll on A’layah. That, and the school never called home to discuss the bullying with them.
In their eyes, A’layah was an outgoing child who claimed she was coping with how her peers were treating her, a notion her father now believes wasn’t the case. However, he told the newspaper that during the holidays he saw his daughter changing–she has become more withdrawn and was spending more time by herself.
“I had asked her before if she needed to talk to someone and she would say ‘No daddy.’ I think she was embarrassed. And then on New Year’s Day, she said she really, really needed to talk to me,” Weatherspoon told the Oakland Press.
“We were going to go out to eat that day to talk about everything…She did it that morning.”
Now Weatherspoon wants for all parents to be more vigilant in talking to their children about their mental health, their feelings and what is going on at school.
“We didn’t know she was hurting that bad and she was hurting so, so bad. She’d have this blank stare on her face … She was a strong kid, strong-minded, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she had a strong heart. I think her heart was broken and that’s why she’s not here anymore,” he said.
“It’s too late for her, but it’s not too late for someone else’s kid. Talk to your kids. As parents, we can think everything is okay and it’s not. A little girl that was full of life is gone.”
Yet, he is determined to make sure his little girl’s death will not be in vain.
“Every moment in my life now will be bittersweet. I will not let her story go down in silence.”
Just tragic. Sending love and light to this family.
Learn more about bullying and how it impacts our children at stopbullying.gov.