Do you remember the last time your child fell down while outside? Maybe they scraped knee, scuffed their palms a little. Maybe it was a little worse. But ask yourself, did they look anything like this child?
The girl in the above picture is named AvaLynn; she’s a five-year-old who attends Arlington Elementary School. When the school was asked about the severe bruising, they responded that she’d fallen on the playground.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, AvaLynn has a different sequence of events: by her account, another child repeatedly kicked her in the face while she was on a slide. After several kicks to the face, she let go and fell to the ground.
Concerned friends and family of Avalynn set up a Facebook page called “Justice for AvaLynn,” to get documentation of the fight for answers and to spread the story to gain support. On Friday, the hashtag #JusticeforAvaLynn began trending on Twitter as people shared images of her face across the social media platform. The family even established a gofundme, to help cover her medical treatment, with little over $9,000 raised as of this writing.
Several prominent people picked up the story, including an author named Zane, who shared it with his nearly one million followers on Facebook. According to Zane, one of his readers claims to be from the same town, and appears to provide story that backs up the young girl’s claim:
I’m from the same town as AvaLyn my child attends the same school. He said at recess she was fighting another student. He was unsure of who hit who first he says a boy kicked her in the face and she fell off the slide. The school she attends is a great school. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the teachers negligent when they have 20 plus students to keep an eye on. Accidents happen this isn’t a case of bullying it’s 2 students fighting and 1 got hurt. I don’t know the child who hit her first nor do I know AvaLynn parents so I’m not taking sides. Calling for him to get expelled is a bit much. He needs to have consequences but explosion a bit much.
The account can’t be independently verified, because Zane withheld the name, but the story does seem to dovetail with the account that AvaLynn gave.
Her mother, Lacy Harris, filed a police report with the Pascagoula Police Department, but Lt. Jim Roe told Gulf Live it was going to be difficult to find fault, since it’s the word of AvaLynn against the word of the teachers.
And the school is sticking to its defense. In the first statement it released to parents, it noted that “school officials responded to the situation” and that “no other children were involved in the incident.” In a second statement released today, the school claims that there were four adults present during the fall, and that it had conducted an additional investigation into the incident:
“The Pascagoula School District has conducted additional investigation, which confirmed that a student was involved in a playground accident,” the official statement said this afternoon.
“The child fell on playground equipment, and no other students were involved in the injury,” the school’s statement said. “Four adults were present at the time. This matter has been turned over to our insurance company for further handling.”
They added that the school district was “committed to maintaining a safe environment for all of our students.”