Mother’s Day: Bullying Nearly Claimed My Daughter’s Life

May 13, 2018

The bullying just would not stop. The taunting. The tormenting. School had become a literal hell on earth.

So this past Monday night, 10-year old Hailey tried to stop it the only way she knew how. She found sleeping pills and overdosed. She didn’t want to go to school another day to face a bully.

Bullying came very close to claiming her young life.

Today, Hailey is home from Sacred Heart Hospital, celebrating Mother’s Day with her mom, Shawna Motala. It will be a very emotional day as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

“The teacher was unable to stop it. Her principal (at Jim Allen Elementary) was unable to stop it,” Shawna said. “My sweet baby girl tried to stop it. I am so grateful that God was watching over her and wasn’t ready to call her home. It kills me to know that this is how truly broken she has felt, all because of the cruelty of others.

Shawna knew the bullying was going on, and she had worked every way she knew how to stop it since the beginning of the school year, including multiple contacts with school officials. She believes the school’s efforts fell short.

“She’s very lucky to be alive,” she said. “I felt very helpless. I felt like I failed her; the school failed her. It breaks my heart to know that she was that broken.”

“I tried to talk to her (Hailey) about it, and we prayed about it every day on the last mile or so on the way to school.”

Monday night, Hailey told her parents that she did not want to go to school on Tuesday.

“She was very sad and felt like no one could help her teach the negative people. She loves everyone, a very loving child. She’s the kind of child that that always wants to help others, always want to give food to the homeless at a red light or help the people she sees on the news. That’s just the way she is.”

Some of the abuse was physical by another fourth grader, Shawna said, adding that she addressed it with the teacher and principal, but nothing ever happened. “I finally told Hailey to punch him in the face, called principal and told her this. Hailey reacted with a big, beautiful smile.”

“This is going to be a long and emotional road but I know God is in control and will get us through it. I want to ask that everyone also pray for the kids who have been bullying her. Turns out one of them is also being bullied by kids on his bus. My heart breaks for him. We are so quick to judge but everyone has a struggle. Everyone needs love and compassion. We need to stop hating and start loving each other.”

Shawna said there has been a tremendous outpouring of love and  support for Hailey and the entire family since Monday. Her classmates even made personal get well cards.

On this Mother’s Day, Shawna said plans to  continue speaking out against bullying, and she’s encouraging all moms (and dads) to talk to their kids and really understand what is going on with their lives at school.

“Stand up and fight for your kids. Don’t let your child feel they have only one way out.”

Pictured top: Fourth grader Hailey recovers Tuesday at Sacred Heart Hospital. Pictured insets: Hailey visitor’s included Superman and Escambia School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas. Pictured below: She reads get well cards from her classmates at Jim Allen Elementary School. Pictured below: Haley after her release. Photos for, click to enlarge.


43 Responses to “Mother’s Day: Bullying Nearly Claimed My Daughter’s Life”

  1. Randi on May 16th, 2018 6:31 am

    See this is exactly why I homeschool. I shouldn’t have to, but since people can’t be bothered to teach their kids respect and compassion or pull their little bullying butts out of school if they can’t handle the privilege of being around other human beings, my child won’t be there among them. I still socialize her. She is still around other kids. But not 30 at a time with the kind of minimal supervision that can be expected at any school. You can call me helicopter mom, overprotective, whatever. This is real people. This beautiful, sweet girl almost lost her life over it. It isn’t kids being kids. It isn’t something she should have to learn to cope with. She shouldn’t have to slug someone in the mouth just for the right to go about her day in peace. We don’t have to do that as grown ups. They shouldn’t have to do it as kids. It’s wrong and if they can’t stop it in the schools (newsflash… ain’t happening – they’re outnumbered and underfunded) then school is not where mine will be. This mamas foot is all the way down. Sad that it comes to that. Even sadder because I know not everyone has the option to make that choice. Be unapologetically and beautifully you, sweet girl. I swear it gets so much better, love. They’re what’s wrong. You’re perfect.

  2. Kim on May 15th, 2018 5:09 pm

    I am so sorry this young child has to go thru this. This is a bigger problem then some people think. !) Did the school get a hold of the kids parents? If so and it did not stop then the parents need be accountable. 2) If the boy was being bullied then there is a bigger problem and the school district should have stepped in and took over. 3) Come on parents wake up. Talk to the teachers and everyone you can at your child’s school.

  3. Colby Burkett on May 15th, 2018 3:09 pm

    Awe, that is so sad :( Glad she is alive now I can hug her :)

  4. Mom2 on May 14th, 2018 11:24 pm

    I have been in and out of a lot of schools at In Escambia County. Yes it it a shame that children bully each other. My observance indicates most behaviors are learned at home. Teachers do their best to teach right from wrong and then educate them all in a day’s work. Parents, it is up to YOU to instill these characteristics and the teachers job to instill education while continue to enforce these positive characteristics that must first be instilled at home. As far as the staff at JAE, they are one of a kind and are truly caring and compassionate. I would most certainly put my kid at JAE when the time comes. Let’s not point fingers folks. Start with YOU…teach your kids right from wrong at home and set good examples.

  5. Pat on May 14th, 2018 11:11 pm

    The parents of the kids that are bullying should be held accountable. Arrested and taken to jail for failing to teach their children how to respect and treat others. It’s one thing to pick on someone, that’s just what kids do and have ALWAYS done. It is now to the extreme.
    If it were me, I would hire an attorney, file suit against the school system and the parents. JMO

  6. Cjm on May 14th, 2018 10:38 pm

    I hate this is happening and being ignored. But, I am not surprised. My granddaughter had been bullied at Ransom. It was reported not only at school but also via the bullying reporting website. My gdaughter was assaulted and given a bloody nose. She was punished for taking up for herself. My gdaughter is no longer at school. We are home schooling her. Victims of bullying find themselves between a rock and hard place, especially when the school officials deny it is even occurring. When are the people in charge going to quit gaffing the victim ( and the parents) off and do something. This has to stop!

  7. April on May 14th, 2018 5:30 pm

    @ Ransom parent you are not alone. They seem to pick and choose who they want to believe. It is really sad when you have to watch a child see for their own eyes no one can be trusted.

  8. John on May 14th, 2018 4:18 pm

    All the EWMS say is go report it on the Website that’s not how u handle stuff

  9. Mark on May 14th, 2018 4:01 pm

    I hate bullies.

    Unfortunately, in today’s society the bully seems to have more rights than the victims do. The schools won’t publish the names of those accused of bullying, because it is “hearsay”. So what are we as parents to do?

    If we get involved, either confronting the bullies ourselves, or their parents, we put ourselves at risk for litigation. In my experience, most parents of bullies could care less, even telling you “your kid needs to toughen up”.

    I swear, if I had a kid in school this girls age, and I found out my kid was getting bullied, I would probably pay a bigger kid to give the bully a little of their own medicine. I know, you are not going to quell violence with more violence, but when those in charge will not lift a finger to help, what are we as parents supposed to do?

    I’m surprised the parents of this child do not sue the parents of the bully for harassment. There has to be SOME witnesses to the bullying!

  10. Msawyer on May 14th, 2018 3:24 pm

    This is not the first case reported at JA and no one’s complaints have been taken seriously!! And YES the school district was aware of others and ignored. Ask how many kids that school has lost this year because parents complaints of bullying was ignored and they had no recourse but to pull their kids out to keep them safe. This district need not wonder why they are so low in state grading because we have complete and full tolerance of poor behavior with no consequences for those students while good kids struggle due to those with poor social behavior.

  11. Gary on May 14th, 2018 2:56 pm

    What did we expect to happen when Jesus was expelled from the school system? There is no good without Him.

    Hailey, if you are reading this, know that you are loved more than you can imagine. Stay strong, let your light shine and don’t let them define you; let love define you.

  12. Kane on May 14th, 2018 12:53 pm

    My son was bullied at Ransom to the point he hated to go to school. We talked to the school no action was taken because they couldn’t prove anything. The bullying finally boiled over to assault with witness. I had the chance to press charges but decided against doing so. I did not want to send a kid to jail…that is a decision I regret deeply. Not only was the bully suspended so was my son who did not even defend himself yet he was still punished for getting bullied. If you have the chance to press charges take it also a restraining order might work.

  13. Bewildered on May 14th, 2018 12:08 pm

    One comment was on the right track. Kids need to be able to report a fellow student or person who is tormenting them. Then a camera could track the culprit and hold them accountable without legal implications. (Sort of like crime stoppers). It’s sad – every student knows who the bullies are, but…. Silence.

  14. Nana of 16 on May 14th, 2018 12:06 pm


    It was NOT at Earnest Ward, it WAS at Jim Allen Elementary.
    PUT the Bully in the public’s eye. Let us know who he/she is.
    Something has to be done publicly about all of this…..

  15. Howie on May 14th, 2018 10:29 am

    If the school doesn’t know about the bullying, then they can’t solve the problem. Have your child tell the bus driver if that is where it’s happening. Or you the parent/guardian make it a point to be at the bus stop to speak with the driver. Have your child tell the teacher each time they are bullied.. Document all that and call the school to set up a meeting with the school officials and teacher. If that don’t work then call Malcolm Thomas’ office. Simple documentation is proof that the right persons were informed. Something has got to stop these bullies. Their parents probably don’t know about it or simply don’t care. Suspension with a plan to retain the bully in the same grade if all else fails. Some children are bullies and will always be bullies. Most will end up in the County Road Prison to start then move to larger Prisons. My niece is a student in 8th grade and has been bullied for 2 years now. My niece will not be going to the same high school as this bully next year.

  16. Jen Ramsey on May 14th, 2018 9:14 am

    You young lady are loved. From around the world. I’m so glad you are still with us. Hugs to you and your family.

  17. Karen on May 14th, 2018 9:02 am

    Name the bullies,, the families, and teachers let the community know who is doing the bullying maybe if a few are made examples of this bull would stop or slow way down. And yes I was bullied and made fun of most of my life

  18. northendbratt on May 14th, 2018 5:02 am

    Earnest Ward was mentioned twice in these comments, if a parent or gaudian had brought a situation like this to the attention of, let us say, the front office there,it would have been dealt with.

  19. My thoughts on May 13th, 2018 10:40 pm

    What about now? Will something be done now? To the bully? To the adults that couldn’t or wouldn’t stop it? If she were my daughter she would never set foot in that school again. Home school!

  20. Charlie Mike on May 13th, 2018 7:45 pm

    My oldest was getting bullied in elementary school. Went on and on. Same story, no one in authority could resolve it. I told my child the next time the bully laid hands on her to turn around and punch her as hard as she could, right between the eyes. My kid got suspended, but guess what? The bully followed her around like a puppy dog the rest of the year, trying to be best friends. The sad thing is the bully had a terrible home life, and was acting out at school. While I felt sorry for her and her home life situation, school was no place to be acting out. At least not with my kid. She was never physically bullied again in school. Kids can be utterly cruel, and parents can be utterly clueless.

  21. Brady Kathy on May 13th, 2018 7:25 pm

    The teacher should be fired,she could have done more.if this was my daughter that teacher would feel my child’s pain.

  22. Concerned mother on May 13th, 2018 7:04 pm

    I have a daughter that has 5 more years at Jim Allen. I myself went there and was bullied by other kids consistently every year. As a parent now.. What am I to do if my child is being bullied by a teacher? My sister and my middle child has been bullied by this specific teacher. My sister graduated from high school in 2010 so that kind of gives you a time span because my middle child is a going to 6th grade next year. As a parent I know what I want to do to protect my children.

  23. Rebel on May 13th, 2018 4:10 pm

    This story breaks my heart because I know just what this little girl went through. I had to transfer to a new school in the seventh grade, where I was bullied unmercifully. An absent father and a disinterested mother couldn’t have cared less, I literally had nowhere to turn. I too though of suicide many times, just to escape the torture.

    Then one fine day I was walking along a dirt road, minding my own business, a mile or more from home, when I met two of my bullies face to face. One grabbed my arms and pinned them behind my back, the other started pounding me. That’s when I fully understand that old Kenny Rogers song, “Tommy”. Like Tommy. I finally had enough. I came out swinging, after the first good punch to the nose the one holding me ran away. The other couldn’t get away and I broke her nose and swelled her eyes shut before I was done.

    When we all went back to school, I didn’t have a mark on me, but both of the other girls were black and blue. I never had any more problems in school. Today? If I’d done that I would have probably ended up in juvenile court. Zero tolerance and all that. Kids are afraid to take up for themselves because of legal consequences. But sometimes you have to. Just sayin’. Support this little girl, let her know she has the right to say enough is enough!!

  24. Nancy Perry on May 13th, 2018 3:45 pm

    @ Joyce, please all me tomorrow at school. I will hsndle this!!

  25. John on May 13th, 2018 1:36 pm

    My heart goes to to Hailey and her family I have three kids two at EWMS and one in Elementary this is so sad to here the school has not done anything. My two boys tells me they hate it at EWMS to . I hope this family gets it stop and fast good luck god bless you just don’t ever give up keep fighting

  26. Linda Harding on May 13th, 2018 1:21 pm

    This precious girl is my cousin. What she has endured is horrific. We came very close to losing Hailey all because of bullying.
    What Hailey, Shawna, and the rest of her family decided to do, going public with Hailey’s story, is incredibly brave and important.
    Way to go, cousins!

  27. Danni on May 13th, 2018 11:47 am

    Hailey, I am sorry you felt you had no other choice. I am so glad you are still with us. You are a strong young lady and I hope your love spreads like wild fire to those who are also hurting, And to those who feel they need to bully. Keep up the good fight young one. Love the smile.

  28. Kelly Mask on May 13th, 2018 11:42 am

    Hailey,keep you head up. This is just a small bump in the road for you,this will only make you stronger. I hope the remaining years that you have left in school will be great for you. I pray that you go far in life,and never let this bully’s destroy the beautiful person you are. I do think you should maybe give martial arts a try just just so you would be able to defend yourself if you need to in the future, I do hope you won’t but safety first. And everyone involved at this school, down to Malcolm Thomas should have to answer alot of questions and be held accountable for this child. We need someone with a big voice to to bring alot of attention to the issue of bullying in our school’s and how to stop it before a child does die. Shame on everyone who did nothing.

  29. Danni on May 13th, 2018 11:39 am

    The bullying has got to stop. Whether the youth thinks it is funny and harmless or it is done for the intention of harming someone. My son currently has a swollen nose and a headache due to another student on the bus pushing a seatmate into him on Friday. We just went to court over him being stabbed with a pencil by anther student, just for asking his classmate next to him if he was okay from being stabbed by the same student.

  30. Carl & Sylvia Godwin on May 13th, 2018 10:33 am

    I just feel so sad for Hailey. I hope they will try to stop the bullying at her school and other schools as well. Hailey you are a beautiful little girl. Hold your head up sweetie and don’t let them get the best of you. I will tell you like I told my boys when they went to school, you are as good as anyone. This hate needs to stop and I pray God will be with all the ones that are being bullied.

  31. np630ss on May 13th, 2018 10:21 am

    My heart goes out to this child. After several attempts to stop the bullying of my daughter, I went a different route. I chose martial arts training. It gave her the confidence and greater ability to defend herself. I DO NOT promote the use of violence, but self defense was a must. She is now happily married with 3 children of her own. The most confident and self reliant person I know.

  32. Elnka on May 13th, 2018 10:07 am

    I’m so glad she is going to be ok! How many more will have to feel this way before Escambia does something? My child is also being bullied at Ernest Ward, nothing is being done about it. They made me think they would handle it, yet my child came home saying he was told to file a report on the computer. It’s sad our kids can’t feel safe at school. Now my child hates to go when he once loved it.

  33. EMD on May 13th, 2018 9:37 am

    The darkness hates the Light, but cannot put it out. On the other hand, Light can put out the darkness. Shine pretty girl. Jesus was perfect and was hated by most of those He died to save. You and One are a Great majority, when that One is Him.

  34. Joyce on May 13th, 2018 9:35 am

    Poor child!!! My grand daughter is constantly being bullied at Ernest Ward and no one will do anything about it either…..sometimes I think that the school officials just really don’t care…..its just a job….but to these children you are suppose to be helping the parents prepare them for life!!

  35. Marcelle Perritt on May 13th, 2018 9:18 am

    Hailey you are a special young lady who was probably put on this earth to make it a better place for all.. The bullies are only bullies with nothing to give but their stupidity. I am so sorry this happened to you but you hold your head up high and be proud of who you are.. Pray for God to change the bullies hearts & minds…You are in my prayers and I just know you are going to rise above all of this and be the happy girl you were meant to be!

  36. Ken on May 13th, 2018 9:08 am

    Why was these bullies not suspended! If this has been going on since the beginning of school, the principal, Malcolm Thomas or the police should have put a stop to it! Both of my kids have been bullied in Escambia County Schools, and I forced them to put a stop to it! I cannot believe that someone in the position did not punish via suspension or anything to these bullies before it got to this point. If she reads this, tell her that we love her and wish the best for her and for her to ignore these bullies.

  37. Doanie Ashby on May 13th, 2018 9:04 am

    Dear Hailey, I am so glad you are getting better. I know the pain of being a young girl and just wanting it to go away. You are stronger than you think and it sounds like you are a beautiful person. Remember this mean old world needs people just like you to make it better. Obviously, God has a plan for you. I pray for you and ask God to help you cope with the difficulties you have been facing. You are loved little sister!

  38. anne 1of2 on May 13th, 2018 8:33 am

    God bless Hailey and her family, hat Mother’s Day story! A 10 yr old wanting to die? I know it is a whole different world now. This sweetheart needs a private school. How about a go fund me page to get her there by next fall? I do not want to hear from these schools our hands are tied! I haven’t been in school in a lifetime but when I was, the offender would have been whipped by our principal and we all knew it! Then we would have gotten the same at home. If our laws forbid this, then our laws need to be changed where our children are concerned.

  39. Jake on May 13th, 2018 8:32 am

    Mom, if you see this, please tell your beautiful girl that she is a one of a kind type of special. I am sure happy that she has got a second chance to see the amazing life she has ahead of her.

  40. Concerning on May 13th, 2018 7:49 am

    Thank God she is ok and hope she will use this experience to rise above the bullies and show them who is she is … STRONG. Hold your head high honey, God has got has got your back!

  41. Mom of a target on May 13th, 2018 7:47 am

    Prayers to this young lady for healing in her mind body and soul. And give strength to the family to help her get through it.

  42. Miriam Sawyer on May 13th, 2018 7:14 am

    She is beautiful and hope she knows that! God creates beauty!! And she is loved by her creator!

  43. Sharon Blanton on May 13th, 2018 4:43 am

    Poor child! I pray for her. I was completely surprised to hear it was Jim Allen school. If it is in fact true that this was reported and nothing was done about it, heads need to roll!

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