DEMOPOLIS, Ala. (CBS Local) — The mother of a 9-year-old girl who took her own life says her daughter had been bullied by a group of classmates because she rode to school with a white family.
McKenzie Adams, 9, was a fourth grade African-American student at U.S. Jones Elementary School in Demopolis, Alabama. Her grandmother found her Monday night at their home in Linden after she had hung herself.
Adams’ mother, Jasmine Adams, said race played a factor in the alleged bullying.
“Part of it could have been because she rode to school with a white family,” Adams told CBS affiliate WIAT. “And a lot of it was race, some of the student bullies would say to her why you riding with white people — you’re black, you’re ugly. You should just die.”
The girl’s aunt, Edwina Harris, told WYFF that Adams’ friendship with the boy she rode with to school was behind much of the ridicule the family says she faced. “She was being bullied the entire school year, with words such as ‘kill yourself,’ ‘you think you’re white because you ride with that white boy,’” said Harris.
Jasmine Adams said she told her daughter’s teachers and her assistant principal she was being bullied a number of times.
The Demopolis City School System offered its condolences to the family, but says its own internal investigation concluded “there have been no findings of any reports of bullying either the student or family.”
Jasmine Adams feels the school system let her daughter and her family down.
“Our trust was in them that they would do the right thing,” Adams said, “And just it feels like to me it wasn’t done”.
Funeral services for McKenzie Adams will be held Dec. 15 at U.S. Jones Elementary School in Demopolis at 11 a.m.
This was the second suicide involving a 9-year-old child in Alabama in the last few months. Madison “Maddie” Whitsett took her life in Birmingham in November. Whitsett’s stepfather said he believed that bullying by children at school might have contributed to her death.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers 24-hour support for anyone who needs to talk to someone at 1-800-273-TALK, or text 741-741.