Mitchell: Bolingbrook teen apparently takes her life after cyber bullying
BY MARY MITCHELL firstname.lastname@example.org March 20, 2013 6:32PM
Kenyatta Parker, 15, committed suicide after receiving a barrage of negative posts on Facebook
Updated: April 22, 2013 12:20PM
Kenyatta Parker seemed to have everything going for her.
The pretty 15-year-old Bolingbrook High School student was an honors student and had recently won a speech contest.
Her mother, Yolanda Parker, moved from the West Side to Bolingbrook so that Kenyatta and her younger brother could go to a better school.
But on March 12, Parker’s world fell apart when her daughter allegedly hanged herself in the family’s garage because she was distraught over a barrage of negative posts on her Facebook page.
Lt. Michael Rompa, of the Bolingbrook Police Department, said Kenyatta’s death is still under investigation pending the coroner’s written report and toxicology results.
But Parker said her daughter left a 12-page suicide letter describing bullying behavior that apparently sent her over the edge.
“I opened the garage and I saw her. I said: ‘Why are you standing here in your tank top?’ ” recalled Parker, who added that she didn’t realize her daughter was hanging.
“The girl had wrapped a cord six or seven times around her neck. I ran into the kitchen and I got a knife thinking I could cut her down. She was dead weight and I couldn’t hold her. She fell on me with her eyes open.”
Parker said she doesn’t remember calling the police but when she looked up, police officers were there.
Rompa confirmed that a 12-page note was left.
“I cannot discuss the details of it though, due to the status of the investigation,” the police officer said in an email.
Parker said a few days before the alleged suicide; she discovered an “inappropriate text message” on her daughter’s phone and she took the phone away.
Apparently, Kenyatta had sent a video to someone of her dancing, and the video was circulated to others, prompting unflattering comments on the teen’s Facebook page.
“The images weren’t that bad. It was a video showing Kenyatta from her belly down,” the mother said.
(Kenyatta is fully clothed with only a slight section of her midriff showing.)
In the 12-page letter to her mother, she shared many of the comments that people left on her Facebook page.
“Someone said she was too dark. You’re too ugly. Stuff like that. People started saying, ‘you’re a ‘ho.’ In the hallways, people were calling her a ‘bust down’,” the mother said.
In her note, Kenyatta also revealed that she had been molested at age 7.
“My dad is already in jail, and I knew if I had told you, you would be in jail too,” Kenyatta wrote.
Kenyatta’s biological father is serving 25 years in prison for a drug-related offense.
Parker said she was stunned by her daughter’s revelation of sexual abuse.
With help from younger relatives, Parker was able to access Kenyatta’s Facebook page. She discovered her daughter went by “Kitty Kenyatta” and had 5,000 Facebook friends.
“I looked on her Facebook page, and people were still leaving nasty messages,” Parker told me earlier this week.
“I left a message saying I would appreciate it if you would stop leaving posts. For people to be saying this kind of stuff is not right. Kenyatta pretty much told me her life was ruined. This is not a joke,” she said.
The teen was laid to rest on Wednesday.
During the funeral at Lawndale Community Church, 3857 W. Ogden, four classmates described Kenyatta as always happy and everybody’s best friend.
But Corinthia Federick, a well-known figure in the hip-hop community, said cyber bullying can have a devastating impact on young people.
“As adults we apologize to you all for not paying to much attention to the effect that social media has on your lives. When you see things that are going on that is negative, you don’t have to be part of bullying,” Federick said.
The Rev. William Knox, pastor of Latter House Church, said he couldn’t imagine constantly being berated via text, or Twitter or Facebook.
“Social media was made to connect us with people, and to encourage and uplift, not for hurting and destroying and tearing one another down,” he said in his eulogy.
Kenyatta would have been Sweet 16 in June. Her mother had made big plans. A pair of diamond earrings had been in the lay-away for months.
“I have cried and cried,” Parker said. “I still don’t want to accept it.”