One of the benefits of homeschooling is not contending with school bullying. Not to say that bullying doesn't exist elsewhere. It does. But school bullying is a legislated and policy wonk expectation that is brutal and tragic. Anyone who is 'different' is a target. Ashlynn Conner's short life ended with a wish she could be homeschooled.
Being from a small town like Ridge Farm, Illinois that is also surrounded by corn and soybean fields, it was stomach churning to hear from an old school friend about 10 year old Ashlynn Conner's tragic death. This happened around our neck of the woods just down the road on Route 150. We in the homeschool community wish we had that phone call from her mother looking for local homeschooling resources and groups. We've had so many of those calls in the past from parents who could find no useful solutions within the school system. I can't imagine the pain Ashlynn's family must be suffering.
From the Chicago Tribune:
A day earlier, Ashlynn returned home in tears after being taunted by girls at school, and asked to be pulled out of classes to be home schooled, family said. Her mother told her she they would meet with the school principal on Monday.
Vermilion County Coroner Peggy Johnson said Ashlynn died of strangulation, but she cannot determine whether the death was a suicide until the sheriff’s investigation is done and her office has completed further tests.
Time is so pressing for kids sometimes. Ashlynn's unhappiness was weighing on her and apparently her mother's resolution to fix this wasn't fast enough for Ashlynn. From the Danville Commercial-News:
Sheriff Pat Hartshorn said investigators are investigating the angle of bullying because it was first reported by Ashlynn’s family members.
“We’ve interviewed the friends supposedly involved in it,” he said early Monday evening. “We haven’t uncovered anything so severe that it would result in someone taking their own life.”
The Sheriff seems to have come to a conclusion. I think that's unfortunate disregarding young Ashlynn's sensitivities.
So rest in peace, little Ashlynn. You just didn't realize how much you were loved. From the Champaign News Gazette:
Pastor Gerald McPhillips officiated Wednesday's service. He said 90 percent of the comment cards that people filled out about Ashlynn talked about her smile, "a smile that sucked you in."
"You couldn't help but like her," he said.
While visiting with the family on Tuesday, McPhillips said Ashlynn's family members expressed their desire that everyone at the funeral leave knowing who Ashlynn was. So McPhillips talked during the service about how the fifth-grader loved to clean, even at her young age, about her infectious smile, her happy attitude and the fact that she was a "hugger." He asked how many had been hugged by Ashlynn, and at least half of the audience raised hands.
Screen shot of Ashlynn Conner from ABC News
Read Parent at the Helm's article: Why You Should Say Yes If Your Child Asks to Be Homeschooled