Parents of McKenna Brown, Teen Who Took Own Life After Allegedly Being Bullied, Want Justice
“She lit up a room when she walked in," Cheryl Brown said of her daughter McKenna. "People gravitated towards her. She was funny, witty, intelligent... We feel broken and we hurt. We miss her incredibly."
Three Florida teens have been suspended from their high school hockey league for allegedly harassing a teammate who took her own life, according to the teen’s parents.
McKenna Brown was 16 years old when she took her own life in August after allegedly being harassed and bullied online by three girls on her hockey team and one girl not on her hockey team, all of whom had been her friends for years, McKenna's mother, Cheryl Brown, told Inside Edition Digital.
The three girls on the same hockey team as McKenna, who have not been identified, have been suspended from the Lightning High School Hockey League pending the outcome of an investigation. But Cheryl does not believe there will be justice for her daughter's death.
“The girls go to four separate schools, under four different bodies, so there will be no repercussions at school," McKenna's father, Hunter Brown said. "Cyberbullying is not a crime in the state of Florida, so they'll face no repercussions legally. Hockey's a privilege and it's the only repercussion or consequence that these girls may suffer."
The girls went from being friends to trying to "cancel" and humiliate McKenna, who had been talking to one of the other girl’s exes, according to Cheryl.
Cheryl told Inside Edition Digital that Mckenna asked the girl whose ex she spoke to if it was OK if they hung out and talked prior to speaking with him to avoid an awkward relationship with her friend. Although McKenna said she had got the approval from her then-friend, "it very clearly wasn't OK in the end, with her talking to him, even though (the other friend) had (by then) another boyfriend," Cheryl said.
"These four girls were accusing her of breaking the girl code, accusing her of talking to one of the girls' ex-boyfriends from two years earlier," Cheryl said.
According to Cheryl, McKenna apologized to the friend, but they allegedly became upset and took to social media to tell people to cut McKenna off. Online, McKenna's former friends also shared that she had been the victim of sexual assault, her mother said.
“They'd gone online on Snapchat and Instagram and tried to cancel her on social media. These texts, they included the information that she had been raped,” Cheryl said.
Messages McKenna received during this time included, "You've done all of us wrong" and "I hope I never see you again," according to messages Cheryl shared with FOX 13.
After McKenna took her own life, her family held a funeral in her honor. Three of the four girls who allegedly bullied McKenna attended the service, Cheryl said. They did not speak to McKenna's parents, Cheryl said.
As they grieve their daughter, Cheryl and Hunter are seeking to speak out about what McKenna and they have gone through to highlight the dangers of bullying and in the hopes that parents heed their warning to be mindful of their children's activities both in person and online—and what's at stake of being lost.
“I mean let's face it, parents are in the dark with platforms… that’s hard to monitor and control," Cheryl said. "I think it does really come down to having, two-way communication with your kids.”
“She lit up a room when she walked in," Cheryl said of McKenna. "People gravitated towards her. She was funny, witty, intelligent... We feel broken and we hurt. We miss her incredibly."
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