SOUTHGATE (WWJ) - The first weeks of school are now underway and students are starting to make new friends. As a parent, have you asked if your child is being bullied -- or being a bully? The consequences of not asking the simple question can be devastating, and in some cases deadly.
WWJ's Mike Campbell recently talked with a local father who wishes he would have asked that question and acted differently, perhaps more effectively.
Jim Nicksich is still trying to get over his 15-year-old daughter's suicide. Nicksich said his daughter, Courtney Hood, hanged herself in the basement of their Southgate home.
"Ever since first grade in school, she's gotten picked on," he said.
Nicksich said Courtney became overwhelmed with all the abuse and taunts she was getting on her phone and on social media.
"Several hundred text messages just, you know, 'you worthless b****' and 'you're ugly' and just crazy stupid stuff," he said.
Nicksich said he talked to the parents of the teens who were doing the bullying and even changed his daughter's high school, but admitted he was reacting the way his parents might have.
"The difference between our generation was it was face to face, you know? If I was to sit here and try to belittle you, I would see your response and if I struck a nerve, I would know it. You don't have that interaction now on Facebook or texting," he said.
It was the taunting online that was especially hard for Courtney to deal with, Nicksich said, because everything was out in the open for all eyes to see.
"Kids will post something on Facebook or something like that, and what drives me nuts is that somebody can post something negative and then there will be people that can tag it saying they like that comment, and I don't understand that," he said.
After Courtney's suicide, her dad found further evidence of the bullying, self-described by Courtney in her personal journals. He has since turned those writings, along with Courtney's computer and cell phone, over to police. While Nicksich isn't sure if anything can or will be done about his daughter's abuse, he hopes other parents who hear his story can hopefully learn from Courtney's tragic death.
"Don't be afraid to pry, don't be afraid to snoop," he said. "I mean, we found her note after the fact, we found her journal talking about the fact that she got picked on all the time. My advice would be don't be afraid to pry, don't be afraid to snoop. You've got to be a parent before you can be a friend."
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