Bethany Thompson

Parents say school officials ignored bullying that pushed cancer survivor daughter to suicide: Lawsuit

Radiation treatments caused nerve damage to 11-year-old Bethany Thompson’s face—something her parents said led to relentless bullying

The parents of an 11-year-old Ohio girl who took her own in October 2016 have sued the school district, accusing officials of ignoring reported instances of bullying that led up to her suicide.

In a federal lawsuit, Bethany Thompson’s parents said their daughter was bullied for years and subjected to physical and verbal harassment, name-calling, and being pushed in hallways, classrooms, at recess, and on the bus.  About a month before her death, the tween told a friend she was “done with bullies” and planned to kill herself—to which the friend informed her father and he, in turn, alerted the principal, according to WCMH.

According to the lawsuit, then-Triad Middle School principal Duane Caudill said he was monitoring the bullying but never informed Thompson’s parents of her alarming comments, despite saying he would do so.

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“Bethany’s friend’s father did the right thing. He called the school. He told them about the ongoing bullying and the suicide threats. No one listened to him,” attorney Natasha Wells-Niklas told The Columbus Dispatch.

Reports indicated that Thompson survived brain cancer as a toddler but radiation treatments she underwent damaged nerves in her face, giving what was described as a “crooked smile.” Before, Wendy Feucht told CNN that the disfigurement was the catalyst of much of the bullying that pushed her daughter to kill herself.

A previous article by WCMH indicated that, while traveling home on the bus, Thompson told her friend that she wanted to die. The friend reportedly told Thompson that she loved her and called Thompson’s mother but it was too late. The 11-year-old had already retrieved a gun in the home and fatally shot herself as her stepfather slept in another room.

Now, the late tween’s parents are suing Triad Local School District and several of its employees, including the former principal. They’re seeking unspecified damages and requested the school district to change how they train employees and students about bullying and discrimination.

Their attorney told WCMH, “In this case, Bethany’s parents have lost their daughter but they hope that through this tragedy they can at least bring about change that will prevent this from happening to another child.”

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[Featured image: Bethany Thompson/Facebook]