Santa Ana police are investigating whether a 10-year-old girl who apparently killed herself at home was the victim of bullying. According to a KTLA news report, officers responded to the Santa Ana home after the child, Allison Wendel, was discovered dead by her 9-year-old sister the night of Oct. 13. Police said her death appeared to be a suicide and that she did not leave behind a note. Family members said her death came as a shock. Detectives are working with the Orange County coroner’s office to determine precisely what led up to the girl’s death.
Investigation into Bullying
Police launched their investigation after hearing rumors that there may have been some bullying involved. Wendel was a student at Hazard Elementary School in Santa Ana and the Garden Grove Unified School District is helping with the investigation. Police will look into the girl’s electronic devices and social media, and interview her friends to determine if she was bullied.
Students at the school told KTLA said they knew Wendel and knew she was being bullied because it was posted on social media. Police say if bullying is determined to have been a factor in Wendel’s death, they would have to determine who did the bullying and take age into factor before they can file any charges. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to raise money for the girl’s funeral expenses and for counseling for her 9-year-old sister.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family members and friends of Allison Wendel for their heartbreaking loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
The Scourge of Cyberbullying
According to recent research, only 16% of parents are even aware of cyberbullying incidents involving their child. Children might hide these occurrences because they are embarrassed or because they may be worried about their parents’ reaction. Some of the common warning signs that your child is being bullied online include mood swings or uncharacteristic behavior after cell phone use; avoidance of activities that the child previously enjoyed; drop in grades; and refusal to go to school.
Here are a few tips for parents whose children are being bullied online:
- Teach your child not to respond to or engage with bullies.
- Track all incidents of harassment toward your child, especially if it’s threatening. Monitor the progression of bullying incidents and collect evidence. Make sure you print hard copies of all posts or messages that involve bullying.
- Talk to your child if you suspect he or she is being bullied.
- After you have documented the bullying with screen shots, photos, and written logs, it may be time to block the bully from seeing your teen online and vice versa.
- Report cyberbullying to your child’s school or the bullying child’s parents. Take action.
If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, you can get help through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, which provides free, confidential help 24/7. You may also call 911 or get help by talking to a loved one or a member of the clergy. If your child has been injured as a result of bullying that was not prevented or stopped by school officials, please contact an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer to find out how you can get positive results.