Josie Leigh Herniman, 15, was found dead in a wooded area near her house this week. Herniman, of Somerset, Britain, is believed to have taken her own life. Her parents and classmates suspect she ended her life due to the relentless bullying she encountered at school.
“We are totally devastated by the unexpected loss of our bright and beautiful daughter and wonderful sister to Ellie, Daisy, Mya and Jordan,” her parents wrote in a statement. “Our bright light has gone out and we will never see her grow and achieve all the goals she had dreamt about. We would like to thank everyone who has supported us through this sad time and our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by this.”
Avon and Somerset Police have Herniman’s electronic devices and will be searching through them for evidence of bullying.
Friends and family members took to Facebook and shared memories and thoughts on Herniman.
“If it weren’t for those bullies you would still be alive,” her friend Jerry Jackson wrote. “You helped me through some tough times when I got bullied. You were the nicest, friendliest girl I had ever met. It’s so sad that we all lost you at such a young age.”
Friend James Carter believes schools lack the power to prevent bullying.
“I can’t believe that in today’s allegedly caring and educated society this is allowed to happen,” he writes. “Why is bullying in schools still regarded as something that has to be dealt with by the school? Surely a situation that results in this needs to be dealt with by the police. Threatening these cowards and brainless individuals with suspension from school or expelling them is no deterrent.”
Herniman’s school is troubled by allegations that bullying led to her death. Shelagh Pritchard, headmistress at Broadoak Mathematic and Computing College, says education psychologists will be speaking with students at the school in the coming days.
“We are getting help and expertise from education psychologists from North Somerset Council as we do all we can to support the whole school community over the coming days,” Pritchard says. “Josie was a popular and lively student who had been planning for a college career. She will be sadly missed by staff and students, but not forgotten.”
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