Posted by Rachel Leigh - email
PORT ST LUCIE, FL (WFLX) - The family of an 11-year-old Treasure Coast girl who hanged herself last week are speaking out, after police said an investigation determined bullying did not lead to the girl's death.
Here is the statement from Celina Okwuone's family: "We are disturbed by the police department's findings in their investigation that there was no crime against our daughter. We know that harm was done, whether it can be proven in a court of law or not."
"We called our daughter, Celina, our supernova, our shining star. She was vibrant and active and so wanting to be liked as is most every 11-year-old girl. Thursday night her death left our hearts broken."
"In the hours before her death, she spoke of being excited for her father's birthday that weekend, and even went to our bedroom to kiss us each good night."
"What happened last Thursday in school, and then that night over the phone, with text messages, and online —also what lead up to that night over the past two years was nothing short of bullying. The night Celina died, we know students texted her nasty messages, mocking her fondness for her favorite musician, her weight, and calling her names like ugly, blacky, and bitch."
"In the months leading up to Celina's death, we met frequently with the teachers and principal to discuss the students and even teachers' treatment towards her. We believe the school could have done more to intervene. We even researched changing schools after the end of the semester."
"These are not your traditional bullies we as parents remember. They do not knock your books out of your hands walking down the halls. The tormenting is more emotional and personal, verbal and sometimes electronic--but meant to hurt and embarrass."
"Adults may not be able to stop bullying from happening once, but they have a responsibility to create an environment where it is unacceptable on a daily basis with zero tolerance for both adults and children."
"Nothing can ever bring our daughter back, but we can make changes. Parents need to speak up, not fear that talking will make it worse, as so many parents warned us. All incidents should be taken very seriously and reported to police, in every public and private school. It is time for change to happen at St. Anastasia's and schools across the country who do not take a more active approach to bad behavior."
"Maybe, one day, we will understand what made her make a horrible, irreversible mistake. We do not believe she had any idea the impact her death would have on so many, and she would never do anything to hurt those who she loved the most. Every parent knows this is our living hell -- to lose a child we loved so dearly and tried so much to keep her happy and strong. Celina made friends with the wrong people and had no idea how many other children here loved and cared about her."
"We love you, Celina. We will miss you forever until our hearts no longer beat. Please God let no other child suffer like our little girl."