A 14-year-old New Jersey high school student took her own life just days after video was posted online of a group of girls attacking her. Her father believes that longtime bullying was the primary factor in her suicide.
Adriana Kuch, who attended Central Regional High School in Berkeley Township, was found dead at home two days after being assaulted on Feb. 1, police said.
The alarming video saw several students attacking the teen and hitting her with a water bottle while she walked with her boyfriend in the school hallway, local outlet Patch reported.
In the 20-second clip, a person is heard yelling: “That’s what you get, you stupid a— b—!” The attackers are seen punching, kicking, and pulling the girl’s hair while others laugh and record the assault, according to ABC 7.
“They think it’s fun to attack people and take videos and post them,” Adriana’s devastated dad, Michael Kuch, told the station. “Getting hit with a water bottle didn’t hurt Adriana, what hurt her was the embarrassment and humiliation, they just kept coming at her.”
“My daughter actually blacks out and they don’t call an ambulance, they take her to the nurse’s office,” Kuch told ABC 7, adding Adriana had “never been in a fight before, she’s 98 pounds, 5-2 and she loves everybody.”
A report on the incident:
News 12 New Jersey reported that three girls have been charged with third-degree felony assault, while a fourth was charged with disorderly conduct.
The school district’s Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides told the news outlet police were not called after the attack, citing school policy.
“I don’t believe a police report was done. We normally just suspend. If a parent wants to press charges, they can with the police,” he said, adding, “We’re not going to double-whammy a kid where they are suspended and then police charges as well.”
Kuch, meanwhile, was stunned and outraged by the school’s response, telling NBC New York: “A kid is assaulted with a weapon and their policy is not to call the police or file a report.”
Kuch later posted images of the assault on Facebook.
“These 4 girls planned and executed an attack. If you watch the videos I have, they are laughing while talking about what they are going to do,” he wrote, adding he “had to take my daughter covered in blood to the local police station.”
“If the school contacted the police and filed a report and conducted an investigation, these videos could have been discovered immediately,” he wrote. “I want the entire world to know what these animals did to my daughter. I will not sleep until their family has to watch them stand in front of a judge and plead guilty.”
Kuch also demanded accountability from the Ocean County school district, due to the harassment and bullying that his daughter reportedly suffered for a long time.
On Wednesday, more than 200 students at Central Regional High walked out of class in protest of the incident and demanded action over what they called a pattern of bullying which the district ignores, ABC 7 reported.
“Adriana took her own life because nobody at the school was able to help or care or step in,” sophomore Roman Valez told the station. “I would actually like to teach the people who bully what they’re actually doing and how it affects.”
The district mentioned Adriana’s death in a note on its website, saying that crisis counselors were available for students, but they claim they were not made aware of that.
“Nobody was supposed to know Adriana killed herself,” student Lance Jones told the outlet, adding that word spread about the tragedy.
Students and parents in the district also claim that Adriana wasn’t the first victim of bullying. Last April, a student was attacked in the school cafeteria, suffering an injury that left her unable to fight back, her mom previously told Patch.
Other students shared similar accounts, claiming that they or people they knew had been bullied but that the district had done nothing in response.
The district posted a letter on its website saying that “we fully understand that students, staff and the community are hurting for the loss of such a young lady with a bright future.” It said a moment of silence was held outside before the students’ rally.
“To ensure the health, safety and well-being for all students, there will not be any rallies in the future without prior administration approval otherwise action will be taken in accordance with policy,” it said, adding: “It is time to start the healing process and we want to send our thoughts and prayers to the family.”
Parlapanides defended the school’s response to the bullying:
“If a situation warrants it we’ll call (police), but in this case the students were suspended immediately,” he said. “We address every incident of bullying, but some of it is on the internet and we aren’t privy to that. We’re not the internet police but we don’t put our head in the sand.”
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