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.

Ashlynn Conner
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


Wishes — 4 Comments

  1. Hi Susan. I met you a few years ago at a conference in Bloomington. I was getting ready to move from OH to IL and was going to start homeschooling my son, now 13.  We did for 3 years. He went back to public school this year, by his choosing, and is in 7th grade at a small town school even closer to Ridge Farm than you are.
    The socialization aspect is the worst part of school so far. He has been bullied. He reported a little over a month ago to his gym teacher that another kid was hitting him every time he passed him when they were running. Teacher did nothing. I got a call a week later from the school nurse saying I needed to come get him and take him to get stitches. The kid had pushed him, my son pushed him off to defend himself, and the kid punched him right above the eye, requiring 4 stitches.
    The kid got suspended. And the school has been very quick to respond to everything since then. The teacher was reprimanded for ignoring my son when he first reported the bullying. I don't know that there's anything else that the school could be doing in this case.
    But the parents of the kid, despite the fact that my kid isn't the only who has reported bullying, are convinced that everything's fine, and refuse to back up anything at home. Their kid has issues that need to be dealt with, but they won't even consider the possibility.
    I am upset that the school didn't immediately respond to my kid's reports, but I am glad that they have since taken action.  However, I am much more upset at the parents who think it's just normal jr high behavior to punch a kid.

  2. Hi Mary,  Wonderful to hear from you again!  I'm glad the school is responding well now, but can't imagine your frustration before they took real action.  I imagine you were having lots of discussions in your mind with administrators while driving to ER.

    I can't remember if I told you why we started homeschooling.  Our son was riding the bus back and forth 10'ish miles to grade school. The Bus Bully was causing problems for our son and when we spoke to the principal, he said he wouldn't do anything.  His reasoning was we would drive our son back and forth to school so he didn’t need to contend with the Bus Bully.  Since the principal’s conclusions was the other boy's parents would not get him to school if he was banned from the bus, he felt the situation was resolved.  ??!!  The boy was given carte blanche and found other victims.

    We pulled our son out in the middle of that year and our daughter soon followed after she had this strong suspicions her brother was having way too much fun.  

    I don't envy teachers' jobs in contending with angry kids and clueless parents, but I wish staff and administrators would not give a brushoff to engaged parents.  No one notices that more than the kids themselves and that is awful.

    I'm sure all else is going well with your son's schooling, knowing you're an empowered parent.  🙂  Glad to hear from you again!  

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