Friends, Administrators Differ Over What Sparked Student's Death

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Her name was Yamilex. Her friends called her Yami. She was just 14 and now she's gone. Last week, Yamilex Garza's mother went into her bedroom early in the morning because she hadn't shut off her alarm clock.

"Her mom really didn't see it coming," said Candace Wattson, a family friend. "One of the major things we've been trying to discuss is signs. When you see signs, don't worry about breaking a promise. You need to say something."

Wattson has four children of her own.

"One of the major things was that she was being called short," said Wattson. "Something so little like that. But she was so gorgeous, very beautiful."

Wattson is thinking about trying to set up a support group for parents and children who have dealt with bullying. She hopes local schools can figure out how to do more.

"I know there's not much that the school can do off school grounds, but I believe if we managed it at school, then it wouldn't take it as far," said Wattson.

In the Wichita School District, spokesperson Susan Arensman says there is a Speak Up program where kids can email and text information anonymously. School staff had no indication that anything might have been wrong in Garza's life.

"We wish that we would have known more about it," Arensman explained. "If there was some trouble, we wish we would have known about it, because maybe we would have been able to help."

Police say bullying can be a criminal matter, but nothing can be done if no reports are made.

"It doesn't matter whether it's a suicide or homicide or ongoing," said Lt. Doug Nolte, "we want to look and see if there was any history. Do we have anything that we can go back and look at to give us any kind of indication that there were issues?"

Garza was laid to rest yesterday. About 300 people attended a vigil at Orchard Park, near where she lived. You can also find more resources on bullying by clicking here.

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