Perry Township family speaks out about bullying while officials battle suicide 'contagion'

PERRY TOWNSHIP, Ohio - A Perry Township family asked News 5 to conceal their identity because they were afraid of retaliation. They say one final bullying incident this winter led them to pull their daughter out of school.

On her journey through a few different communities in Ohio, one middle schooler in the Perry School District says it hasn't been all bad.

"It's very weird because we've never had bullying problems come straight to our house before," said the girl.

One of the worst days was Jan. 19, when someone sprayed ketchup and left sanitary napkins on the hood of the family's car.

The victim's father drove off after the person.

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"Basically just caught up with them, realized how young they were," said the father. "I mean there's not really much you can do."

He says the person who did it rode the bus with his daughter and until then, there really hadn't been any issues.

Perry Township police charged a juvenile with criminal mischief and an adult with obstructing official business after misleading officers.

Police say they only announced these misdemeanor arrests because of the curiosity about the case after six suicides tied to the community. Suicide prevention in the Stark County community is still top of mind, with faith leaders holding a prayer service over the weekend to show they're available to help. There's a talk about adolescent mental health scheduled for Thursday this week.

The family tells News 5 their daughter got help from the crisis center after saying she wanted to die because of the incident, and another student told their parent they thought the girl might hurt herself.

Now, she'll be going to school online.

"I'd be happy that at least I'd get away from some of the bad things that have happened," she said. "I'd be kind of sad because I'll miss some of my friends that were there."

The father tells us he's met with school officials a bunch of times and he thinks they're doing a good job. He's just concerned that there are other kids out there struggling to tell anyone else about their experiences being picked on.
 

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