The dad of a bullied 14-year-old New Jersey high school student who committed suicide after a video was shared online of a group of girls beating her has denied that the attack was racially motivated — insisting that the theory about the vicious assault was “garbage.”
The tragic teen’s father, Michael Kuch, blasted the speculation surrounding the death of his daughter, Adriana Kuch, who was found dead at home on Feb. 3, two days after the sickening caught-on-video assault in a hallway at Central Regional High School in Berkeley Township.
“Adriana was beautiful and she loved everyone, she did not care about race, the world would be a better place if everyone was as colorblind as she was,” Kuch wrote on Facebook Thursday, responding to speculation that race played a role in the beatdown.
Kuch posted a screen grab from an Instagram story of what appears to be a rally held to protest the incident.
Over the image, an Instagram user wrote, “They are protesting about that white girl.”
“Nah, cuz wtf why does black people do that to the white girl,” the user continued, claiming that “black people know that white [people] hate them still.”
Kuch’s daughter is white, but the race of the assailants in the disturbing footage was unclear.
He responded to the Instagram story, saying, “People are sending me garbage like this, I am not here to make it about race.”
Kuch has repeatedly insisted that bullying played a role in his daughter’s death.
More than 6,500 community members have signed on to a petition on Change.org titled “Stop the Violence at Central Regional High School.”
The petition was launched by Racheal O’Dea, who wrote that her daughter also was “jumped and physically assaulted by MULTIPLE girls” at the school in January 2022.
“She had reported threats and their previous stalking to the school weeks before it happened and NOTHING was done! The attack was recorded and sent across social media,” O’Dea wrote.
She said the family has filed a lawsuit against the district “due to their negligence and involvement.”
“Now here we are almost a year later, and we have now lost a beautiful 14-year-old soul who was brutally attacked at Central Regional HS just days before taking her own life. A life stolen way too soon. Parents our kids are not safe!” O’Dea wrote in the petition.
“This school is too busy trying to save their own asses than do their job! The bottom line is the violence at Central Regional needs to STOP! There needs to be a change in administration, there needs to be more security, the school should not be able to solely label these incidents,” she continued.
O’Dea claimed the district describes incidents of violence as “hallway disturbances” to avoid calling police.
“Students do better… stop hurting each other and if you see someone being hurt call 911! It is not a fight, it is not an altercation, its not a hallway disturbance…..ITS CALLED ASSAULT,” she wrote.
In the footage shared online, Adriana was seen being attacked with a water bottle as she walked in the hallway with her boyfriend. A person was reportedly heard yelling: “That’s what you get, you stupid a— b—!”
“They think it’s fun to attack people and take videos and post them,” her dad told WABC.
“Getting hit with a water bottle didn’t hurt Adriana, what hurt her was the embarrassment and humiliation, they just kept coming at her,” Kuch said.
“My daughter actually blacks out and they don’t call an ambulance, they take her to the nurse’s office,” he said, adding that Adriana had “never been in a fight before, she’s 98 pounds, 5-2 and she loves everybody.”
Three girls have been charged with third-degree felony assault and a fourth was charged with disorderly conduct.
Schools Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides on Thursday defended the school’s response to the bullying after citing its policy of not reporting incidents to police.
“If a situation warrants it we’ll call (police), but in this case the students were suspended immediately,” he told The Post, adding the students involved face criminal charges.
“We address every incident of bullying, but some of it is on the internet and we aren’t privy to that,” he said. “We’re not the internet police but we don’t put our head in the sand.”
Maureen Brogan, a counselor who leads the Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth at Rutgers University, told NJ.com that research shows that bullying alone is not thought to cause suicide but can be a contributing factor.
“What we know in the field is that suicide is an extremely complex issue,” Brogan, who sits on the state’s Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board, told the outlet.
“It’s multi-faceted. It’s not one thing causes it, but it is a combination of risk factors,” she added.
School districts in New Jersey reported 18,576 incidents of violence, vandalism, weapons, substance use and bullying in the 2019-20 school year, NJ.com reported, citing data from the state Department of Education.
In 2019, one of six New Jersey high school students, or 16.4%, reported being bullied on school property, while 13.8% reported being cyberbullied, according to data culled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Friday morning, Kuch’s father shared a post opening up about the grief of losing his daughter.
“Last night I was so tired I honestly could not cry. I slept for almost 5 hours and now back to tears. sleep may have been a bad idea,” he wrote.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.