BERKELEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (PIX11) – A New Jersey family warned school officials of bullying for more than a year before a 14-year-old student took her own life after four other students allegedly attacked her.
Racheal O’Dea said there are disturbing similarities between how Central Regional High School handled the bullying her daughter experienced and how they handled the bullying 14-year-old Adriana Kuch endured in the days before she killed herself. Kuch’s body was found on Feb. 3.
“My daughter was the one that contacted me after she was assaulted. The school didn’t call me,” O’Dea said.
The school has been in the hot seat since video emerged of Kuch being attacked. O’Dea’s daughter, who transferred out of that same school after she was filmed being beaten by another group of girls, knew Kuch.
“Pretty traumatizing. It’s just hard to see anyone go through that, especially if you know them as well,” O’Dea’s daughter said. “And just seeing people watch it happen and having joy and excitement as that happens to someone else, they think it’s funny. It’s just hard to watch.”
O’Dea said her pleas to school administration about bullying fell on deaf ears. Her daughter said she she told the principal and assistant principal she was being threatened, but nothing was done to protect her before, during or after the attack. She is not alone. There are Instagram pages dedicated to showcasing videos of fights that appear to be filmed on school grounds.
“These kids come with their phones ready to tape. They want the notoriety. They want to further humiliate their victims. It’s not bad enough they get assaulted. They have to deal with the humiliation that these videos are viewed by their peers and kids across the country,” said Jonathan Ettman, the O’Dea family’s attorney.
The family is suing the school district for what they call negligent policies. They also launched a petition calling for the district to adopt stronger repercussions for students who engage in bullying and physical attacks.
The school board’s superintendent stepped down in the wake of Kuch’s death.
Kuch’s dad, Michael Kuch told PIX11 he would no longer comment on his daughter’s case but thanked the school community for its support.
The four girls accused of attacking Kush are now facing criminal charges, including harassment, aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. They were also suspended indefinitely from school.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). It is a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within your state.