The parents of a Colorado fifth-grader who killed herself blame it on bullying, and they say her school could have done more to intervene.
Ashawnty Davis, 10, died Wednesday after being taken off life support at a children’s hospital, two weeks after she was found hanging in a closet at home.
Her parents said Ashawnty was bullied after a video of a fight she was in at her school in Aurora in October was posted on an app. Ashawnty confronted a girl who had already been bullying her, her mother said, and the fight was recorded on a cellphone and posted to an app called Musical.ly.
“She was devastated when she found out that it had made it to Musical.ly,” Latoshia Harris, Ashawnty’s mother, told CNN affiliate KDVR. “My daughter came home two weeks later and hanged herself in the closet.”
The Davis-Harris family has not returned CNN’s requests for comment.
A spokesperson for Musical.ly told CNN the company learned of Ashawnty’s death “through news reports.”
“We are absolutely heartbroken to hear about this. Our hearts are with the Davis family in this unimaginably painful time,” the company statement said.
Parents wanted school to do more
If her parents are correct, Ashawnty is the latest victim of “bullycide,” which is bullying that leads to suicide. It’s happened in a number of cases involving teens over the past couple of years.
Ashawnty’s parents say the Cherry Creek School District should have done more to stop the bullying that led to her death.
Abbe Smith, director of communications for the Cherry Creek School District, told CNN that the students were talked to about the fight, parents were called and the cellphone video was sent to the Aurora Police Department.
But Ashawnty’s parents say that was inadequate.
“There was nothing done about it. When I got the call telling me that my daughter had been in a fight, they never gave me the opportunity to meet with the other parents to come to the bottom of the line,” Harris said.
If they had been able to have that meeting, her parents say, Ashawnty might still be alive today.
Smith said the school didn’t know about any bullying.
“The school did not receive any complaints from students or parents that the student was being bullied,” Smith said. “We do not tolerate bullying of any kind in our schools and we have a comprehensive bullying prevention program in place at all of our schools for grades K-12. The safety and well-being of students is our highest priority and we strive every (day) to ensure schools are safe, welcoming and supportive places that support learning.”
Smith also stressed that the fight, while taking place on a school field, did not happen during school hours.
The district described Ashawnty’s death as “heartbreaking.” Smith said counseling was being provided to students who needed it.
“We are very much focused on supporting the students and school community as they navigate this heartbreaking situation,” Smith said. “This is a tragic loss that has shaken the whole school community. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the family and everyone who knew the student.”
Ashawnty’s mother said she wants to hold school administrators accountable for the bullying that goes on inside their schools.
“With the last breath in my life I’m going to make sure that the unfortunate kids are able to go to school comfortably and learn,” Davis said.
In January, 8-year-old Gabriel Taye hanged himself with a necktie in his Cincinnati home. After his death, a Cincinnati police homicide detective reviewed security video at Gabriel’s school from a few days before the suicide and saw an incident in a bathroom. The detective said he saw “bullying” and behavior that “could even rise to the level of criminal assault.”
Eighteen-year-old Brandy Vela killed herself in November 2016 after being relentlessly bullied about her weight. She shot herself in the chest in her room in front of her family. Vela had changed her phone number and reported the bullying to police, but was told they couldn’t help her.
In 2010, nine teens in Massachusetts were charged for their involvement in what was described as a months-long bullying campaign that led to the suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince. She was found hanging in the stairway leading to her family’s second-floor apartment. Officials said Phoebe had been subjected to verbal and physical abuse.