Grieving Parents Fight to Stop Bullying After Their 16-Year-Old Daughter Takes Her Own Life
Parents of a teenager who was bullied so viciously that she took her own life have spoken out about their grief and are campaigning against the unwanted, aggressive behaviour.
Joanne and Michael Piva said their daughter Breannah Lee Piva took her own life in 2015 when she was 16 after she faced years bullying on a daily basis at Ayr High School in north Queensland, Australia, reported 9News.
Breannah not only suffered from verbal abuse but also dealt with “physical altercations and telecommunication bullying,” according to a GoFundMe page set up to fundraise money for the Piva’s campaign.
“Breannah was thrown in front of a car, belted up on numerous occasions, hospitalised on multiple occasions. She lived in fear from the bullies,” the page read.
Michael said the Piva family made multiple complaints to the school over the years. The Pivas also discovered through information obtained by freedom of information laws that Breannah had made more than 20 complaints to the school over a period of three years.
“But nothing was done,” he told the news station.
Some of the complaints which were handwritten by Breannah detailed separate incidents of physical abuse.
“[Name withheld] threw a bottle of iced coffee at me and then came up behind me and rubbed marshmallow over my face and collar of my uniform,” one complaint read, reported 9News.
“All year she has given herself permission to hit me across the back of my head with either her books or her hand as hard as she can and even when I tell her to stop she says she has her own permission to do it,” another read.
Breannah also received serious verbal threats to her life.
“Yesterday I was walking home and a group of kids from AHS started calling out to me saying ‘oi forget we’re gunna bash you, we’re gunna kill you’ and I walked into Coles to avoid them,” the complaint read.
The Pivas have now taken legal action against the high school over the intense bullying their daughter had suffered.
The family’s lawyer Sarah Sarinas said Breannah was “struggling to cope.”
“She was reaching out for help and support and she was let down time and time again by the school. They were aware of the problem and they didn’t fix it,” Sarinas told the news station.
“There are a pile of incident reports there and that’s what makes this case all the more shocking that nothing was done and it has led to tragic consequences for this family,” she added.
Joanne said her daughter had come home with bruises and black eyes on several occasions, reported 9News.
“I have taken her to the hospital and to the police, but the police say they can’t charge anyone because they’re under 17,” she told the news stations.
“She got one message from a boy on her phone saying if she didn’t kill herself he would kill her. But police say they couldn’t prove who exactly sent the message as the owner of the phone blamed someone else.”
The circumstances surrounding her report to the police are unclear. According to the website Lawstuff, it is considered illegal to engage in bullying and if the bully is over 10 years of age, they can be charged with a criminal offence that may carry a jail sentence.
Breannah’s younger sister Michaela said on the night her sister died that Breannah had received a number of abusive text messages.
“She just went really quiet and asked me to leave her room,” Michaela told 9News.
“The next time I saw her she was dead.”
The Pivas have set up the Do It For Bree foundation “to offer free workshops to our youths,” according to the foundation’s website.
“Our goal is to attend schools throughout the region and eventually Queensland and Australia-wide to run free workshops that deal with bullying, depression and youth suicide,” the website said.
It also aims to stop bullying, prevent youth suicides and raise awareness about depression.
The crowdsourcing page set up for Piva’s foundation is fundraising $10,000 for the cause.
Last week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote to every school principal across Australia to join a national effort to stop bullying.
“We believe all students have the right to be safe at school,” Turnbull said in his letter to schools, reported Newscorp.
“This is our chance to stand together. Together we can reduce the incidence of bullying, whether inside the school gate or online, and eliminate it wherever we can.
“Bullying and violence has no place in Australia.”
The letter also urged schools to sign up for the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence on March 16.