How One Malicious High School Bully Turned A Texan Town Upside-DownBy Precious I
Traditional bullying has always been an epidemic that has unquestionably afflicted our society. And bullying can affect countless people at any point in their lives, from kindergarten through college. It even happens as adults, though it’s often a bit more…subtle. The unjust, vindictive acts of bullies can be frightening and traumatizing, as anybody who has experienced it will attest.
This story about bullying in schools and the destruction it causes its victim is heartbreaking and filled with emotion. Fortunately, bullying is a topic that many of us are now aware of, and the practice of confronting bullies and receiving support from others is becoming more prevalent. Whether it’s happening to you or someone you know, we encourage you to seek help and put a stop to the distressing acts of others.
A Safe Space Or Not?
To put it plainly, schools are institutions in charge of imparting knowledge and culture to future generations. Given this, it is anticipated that students will feel safe and secure at school and that they will receive respect and kind treatment.
However, it appears that only a minority of students are actually able to coexist peacefully with their schoolmates. Too many encounter violence in their varied learning environments. One such example is that of Hannah Combs, whose inspiring tale deserves to be heard — or in this case, read.
For Hannah, going to school was a delight. She would participate in several extracurricular activities after putting in a lot of study time in class, which made the school day pass quickly. In addition, Hannah had a naturally ambitious personality; she was constantly striving for more and engaging in worthwhile endeavors.
The young lady decided to enroll in their school’s Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program. Hannah thought that the information she would acquire would enable her to succeed in life. Yet, at the same time, Hannah’s ambition attracted some sketchy personalities.
What A Day To Be A Freshman
It was September 14th, a regular day at Harker Heights High School, in Killeen, Texas. Fifteen-year-old Hannah Combs, who was confident and sociable, was settling into her new surroundings as a freshman. The teenager was chatting with friends when she noticed two other kids experimenting with super glue.
Suddenly, a bigger bully crept up behind her and poured glue all over her head. She was initially startled; she had no clue who he was, what was in her hair, or what was happening. She wasn’t paying attention to her surroundings, something she later admitted was her “first mistake.”
Ten Times Worse Than A Sunburn
The freshmen group was in complete disbelief when the kid who had put the super glue on Hannah’s head vanished swiftly. It took the innocent girl a few seconds to grasp what had happened. But then it hit her. Her scalp was on fire and the burning sensation told her something was wrong.
Hannah was picked up from school and rushed to the emergency room where medics spent a half-hour attempting to scrape the adhesive off her scalp. She described the awful sensation as “a sunburn multiplied by ten.” They could tell she was in considerable pain but she managed to endure it.
A Chemical Burn
Eventually, Hannah relaxed and was being treated when they confirmed that her scalp had a first-degree chemical burn. While the other friends searched carefully for the bully, one of Hannah’s friends assumed the responsibility and called the poor girl’s parents.
The nurse had attempted all means at her disposal to assist Hannah, administering first aid to her scalp where the super glue had caused considerable damage. Sadly, the hair on the right half of Hannah’s head was already matted and damaged and required a shave.
Negligence At The Institution
According to reports, Hannah’s school did not discipline the bully until Hannah’s father, Christian Grimmer, showed up and threatened to dial 911. The Killeen Daily Herald reports that the retired soldier said an assistant principal confronted him and advised him to “carry the attitude elsewhere.”
The school authorities seemed almost unbothered, despite the degree of the incident. However, the girl’s father was infuriated with the school officials for what he saw to be their negligence. Hannah’s mother, Jessica, was just as upset by the bullying.
Hannah’s parents called the superintendent of the Killeen Independent School District, John Craft, demanding to know how the bully would be disciplined, but they received no response. When the local newspaper contacted the school system, officials claimed that they couldn’t release details about a student’s punishment because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
After being identified, the bully was essentially let off the hook by the school, receiving only a slap on the wrist as punishment. However, he received an “in-school suspension (ISS),” which was equivalent to getting a few days off from school.
Hannah’s parents were morally outraged at the way the school handled the circumstance. Their daughter had to shave her head after she suffered a first-degree burn, and this nasty little bully only received a meager in-school suspension. These two “consequences” clearly didn’t match up.
Even though Hannah returned to class while still nursing her physical and mental wounds, the penalty was insufficient for Combs’ father, who wanted the boy moved. While the courses and lunch hour that the two shared had been shifted, Hannah was still terrified of seeing him in the corridors.
Terror In The Classrooms
After the teenager returned to class, Hannah stated that she grew concerned and terrified throughout the first period because she had the same second-period class as the boy. Finally, she contacted her father and had him pick her up and drive her home.
Hannah’s father came to pick up his daughter and was furious when he learned that the boy was in school — sharing a classroom with her, no less! Finally, the principal addressed Grimmer and told him he had to leave.
The protective father simmered as he signed his daughter out of school and waited for her arrival. However, a police officer was called and Grimmer was forced off the premises for tresspassing. Hannah was not released from school until her father got to the parking lot.
Grimmer was not informed of the boy’s class schedule change until after he had picked up his daughter from school. Even then, he was totally dissatisfied with the way the school handled the incident, calling them reactive rather than proactive.
Justice For Hannah
Being a teenager is hard, and finding something you like about yourself is even more difficult. For Hannah, she took pride in her hair. Losing it brought her to tears as she felt like she lost a part of herself. Every reflection reminded her of what happened that fateful day.
Hannah’s predicament turned out to be more critical than they had anticipated back during triage at the nurses’ office. Hannah and her friends were resolved to tell the authorities their story as intense sentiments of unfairness started to surface. Her mother, Jessica, joined social media and created the Facebook page, “Justice for Hannah.”
A Solid Support System
“Other people find different ways to bring you down. If you let them bring you down, you’re letting them win.” This was Hannah’s motto. Meanwhile, the Facebook page was thriving, and it didn’t take long for suppport to come pouring in.
Hannah admitted that the support from the media had motivated her to assist others. She claimed that folks who had been unable to advocate for themselves had reached out to her, which made her want to assist other victims. It was incredible how people rooted for the teenager.
Filing Assault Charges
Still, her father was livid. He saw the injustice in Hannah being punished for the cruel actions of another. He sought to see the boy expelled, stating “he gave up that right to go the Harker Heights High School when he assaulted my daughter.”
According to Grimmer, the boy had been charged with assault by KISD Police. Additionally, he requested that the student code of conduct be revised to safeguard the victims of assaults better. To make matters worse, the superintendent never responded to his texts or phone calls.
Social Media To The Rescue
Jessica Grimmer, who was upset with how the school system handled the situation, posted about the incident, including a description of the incident and pictures of Hannah’s new hairdo. To her astonishment, the post began to gain traction not only locally but also internationally.
The post about Hannah’s story had gotten almost 7,600 likes by the following week, and the page “Justice for Hannah” had gathered over 450 likes. Her mother, Jessica, was stunned by the feedback. She noticed that there was global support for her daughter.
A Free Makeover
With the buzz on social media, Nikki, a local beautician, offered Hannah a free haircut. Fixing the young girl’s hair after the traumatizing incident was something Nikki was proud of. So many people could only voice their support, but Nikki could make a tangible impact.
Since the affected area wasn’t uniform, Hannah needed only one side of her head to be shaved. Nikki was not put off by the task and made the most out of it. Since then, Hannah has been holding her head high and hopes to utilize her experience to help others overcome the same obstacles she has.
Was It Really An Accident?
Hannah’s family is sure that none of the threats against the boy are acceptable. However, they insist that the unnamed bully admits to purposefully pouring the super glue on her, and dispute that this was an accident, as it clearly didn’t seem like one.
Hannah’s family also shared that they wouldn’t have created such a stir online in the wake of the tragedy if the school system had done more in the beginning. Instead, the Grimmers took the tale to Facebook after the youngster returned to class following only three days of in-school punishment.
Two Sides Of A Coin
There are usually two sides to every story, and the unnamed boy claims that he was only clowning around with another student at the time of the event. His mother spoke up in defense of her son, saying that he didn’t deny the incident happened.
To her, things just “got out of hand” as the backlash came in. The boy in question also noted that he wasn’t aware of how bad the incident was — the chemical burns and Hannah needing to shave half of her head. According to him, he cried upon learning this…
It Was Only A Joke
According to KCEN-TV, the 14-year-old was fooling around and pretending to put glue on Hannah. The child claims that the second time he did the prank, Hannah shifted and her movement caused the bottle of glue, which was hovering above her head, to tip over.
The question remains: why did he do it in the first place? If he never indented to spill glue on her, he should have left the cap on. And, to make it worse, this was not his first time attempting the prank.
The bully and his mother told the media that they would rather their identities be hidden due to the response and violent threats. They both agree that he needs to be punished, but she feels enough is enough. They had had to put an end to the revenge threats.
The boy’s mom alleged that the assistant principal phoned her and told her it would be best if her kid did not attend school because it was unsafe. In addition, they had received several disturbing from adults, even after they admitted that he had done something wrong.
A Transfer For Safety
The unnamed bully’s mom filed a report with KISD Police due to the Facebook posts and other kids approaching her son at school. She claimed that the administration was actively contemplating the possibility of moving her kid to a different school for safety reasons.
The Grimmer family was contacted after the conversation with the boy’s mother. They maintained their claims that the boy intentionally put the glue in her hair. However, Hannah’s mother also assured everyone that she would never tolerate violence or threats directed at the boy and that every student deserves a secure learning environment.
Hannah’s wound took a few weeks to heal, but she will always have the scars. The wounds left in her heart, though, would last longer. Hannah couldn’t fathom why the kid picked on her. She had always tried to be nice, and the idea of hurting anyone made her feel horrible.
Hannah may not have all the answers, but she will never forget what happened to her. She has a spot on her head that will always be bald, constantly reminding her of the tragic event. But despite the anguish and tragedy, Hannah’s tale did result in something positive.
Bullying, A Recurring Epidemic
It makes no difference if you are a parent, teacher, student, or community member. Everyone may play a part in stopping bullying in schools. However, most individuals have directly or indirectly engaged in, seen, or been the victim of bullying in schools.
Antagonistic actions have to fulfill a few criteria to qualify as bullying. These include malicious purpose, power imbalances, recurrence, anguish, and provocation. Bullying at school can happen inside or outside the classroom, but it is always the result of connections formed there.
Proactive Institutions, A Necessity
The individuals who have been bullied may have poor self-esteem, which can cause depression. In addition, bullying in schools can cause some victims physical, psychological, or emotional pain. Sadly, these bullied adolescents are more likely to develop depression as adults.
Unfortunately, some kids experience regular bullying several times weekly, and most victims do not have a voice. This is more frequent in schools and can result in missed school days. To stop long-term harm from bullying, institutions must step in and act.
A Voice For The Silent
The kind-hearted Hannah had recently gone through a terrible ordeal. She had many unanswered concerns, a broken heart, and a charred scalp. However, she also received an outpouring of sympathy from total strangers on the internet, which she could never have anticipated.
Fortunately, Hannah was so emotionally moved by the support that it motivated her to discover a new goal. Finally, she was going to speak for those who couldn’t speak for themselves and was sure of what she wanted to accomplish.
The National Statistics
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a third of all children between the ages of 12 and 18 reported being harassed at school in 2007, with some experiencing it nearly every day. Students have directly observed bullying of some kind at school 56% of the time.
About 7,066,000 American children aged 12 to 18 (or 28.0% of all such students) reported being harassed at school in the academic year 2008–09, while about 1,521,000, or 6.0% said they have experienced cyberbullying of any kind (i.e., on or off school property).
Many parents had growing concerns regarding how the school dealt with Hannah’s bully. One thing was apparent when her account was made public: the bully had gotten off easy. When questioned, the school acknowledged that they were still looking into what had happened.
It is only normal that parents at the school are worried that the boy may still hurt other kids. The police, in the opinion of several parents, ought to have been called. The boy’s conduct can worsen in the years to come if he is not taught how to alter it.
The Code of Conduct
Everyone continued to wonder about the legality of what happened to Hannah due to the absence of suitable punishment. The Texas Education Code, according to the school district’s code of conduct, considers assault to be a “severe violation” that carries both an in-school suspension and a campus probationary period.
The code states that severe physical bullying (defined as an assault with bodily harm), like what Hannah experienced, results in the student being removed from campus. And not just that. She offender is to enter a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP).
A Courageous Teenager
Hannah overcame the hardship and pain she had experienced from the incident by becoming stronger and more capable. She was doused in superglue, which burned her scalp and destroyed her hair, but she was able to turn the situation around.
No one should ever have to experience what Hannah did. Still, regardless of how long or short her hair is, she is a stunning young lady with a caring family. She has also gotten the backing of the Internet and, most importantly, the courage to speak up for herself.
The Silver Lining
The attention the Facebook page generated was mind-blowing. The family received an overwhelmingly positive response. Of course, everyone was outraged at the boy’s inadequate punishment. Still, they were well aware that they should never retaliate violently. In fact, they found the satisfaction they were hoping for.
According to the family, they have gotten the necessary assurance from the school, informing them that the problem has been fixed and Hannah may return to school without fear. Despite being the target of bullying, she was able to find a silver lining and effectively pursue justice.
To all the bullies out there, this is a lesson. Remember Hannah’s tale if you ever consider bullying someone. Of course, Hannah didn’t need to exact physical retribution. Still, the way this story spread on social media and the public’s fury at the bully and sympathy for Hannah was on another level.
Although social media may have made situations like this more widely publicized, Facebook and its “younger siblings” are always on the watch for stupid conduct. We can only hope that the bully learned his lesson and was sufficiently frightened, never again bullying anybody.