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Pascagoula, Mississippi playground beating: Outrageous beatdown of 5-year-old?

Pascagoula, Mississippi playground beating: Outrageous beatdown of 5-year-old?
Facebook / Justice For AvaLynn

A Pascagoula, Mississippi playground beating of a 5-year-old girl left one kindergartner’s face scratched up, swollen and purple with bruising – almost to the point that her mom barely recognized her. The fuming mom blames school bullies and a lack of supervision. The school is blaming… the beat-up girl?

Writes the Huffington Post: “The mother of a Mississippi kindergartener claims that her daughter was attacked by another child at the school playground, but the school district says the girl was hurt on her own. Lacey Harris filed a police report with the Pascagoula Police Department on Thursday after her daughter, AvaLynn, came home from school with her face swollen, cut, and bruised beyond recognition.”

A Facebook page called Justice for AvaLynn recounts the family’s side of the story, saying that on August 26, Harris was called to the Arlington Elementary School in Pascagoula to pick up her daughter. Writes the site:

Lacey rushed Ava to the emergency room on Tuesday afternoon, and took her to the family pediatrician the following day, who burst into tears upon seeing the Ava's battered visage. Fortunately, the doctor determined that it is unlikely that Ava would have any permanent physical damage. Mental and emotional damage is another story altogether.

According to AvaLynn, she was physically assaulted by another student – kicked repeatedly in the face while on the slide at the school’s playground. Unfortunately, no teachers witnessed what happened, leading the school to stand behind their position that AvaLynn did this herself.

The school issued a rather nonchalant statement, generalizing what happened with:

A student was injured while playing on the playground at Arlington Elementary School Tuesday afternoon. School officials responded to the situation. The parent was contacted and the student received medical treatment. No other children were involved in the incident. The Pascagoula School District remains committed to the safety of all its students.

The family filed a police report, but the Pascagoula Police Department have said they have already closed their investigation, leaving the matter in the school’s hands.

“The mother alleges another child kicked her child on the slide,” Pascagoula Police Department Lt. Jim Roe said. “Right now, there's no indication something criminal took place. I have spoken with school security and an assistant superintendent is investigating the matter.”

AvaLynn’s social media site encourages all to share her story in order to assist in getting answers, though it's unclear what steps the family is taking to do so.

So now we've taken this to Facebook, asking everyone out there to please share this page, to please share AvaLynn's story. We need this to reach as many people as possible so that this little girl will not go without justice. Please share this with your friends, your relatives, and all your local news outlets. Please help us get the answers and the justice that our little angel deserves.

The family also has set up a GoFundMe account with a goal of $10K to cover AvaLynn’s “medical needs and travel expenses, etc.” As of the writing of this article, over $8,000 had already been raised.

No further details are available. According to the Daily Mail, Harris "has retained the services of a lawyer, who has insisted she make no comment to the press while they press for a police investigation."

The SpreadIt is reporting that "a few skeptical voices are saying that the Pascagoula, Mississippi playground beating may be a hoax. Those skeptics believe that AvaLynn did fall but the rest of the story was cooked up." Disbelieving comments posted to the site's Facebook page confirm that some think there is more to this story than has been released to the media.

UPDATE Sept. 9 2104: reported on Sept. 3 that family attorney Jesse Mitchell “has not responded to multiple phone messages seeking an update on the condition of AvaLynn nor has the family responded to email requests for how the girl is faring or more about her injuries.”

Per Gulf Live:

On Tuesday, the Pascagoula School District issued another statement, reiterating that the girl fell off playground equipment and no other children were involved.

“The Pascagoula School District has conducted additional investigation, which confirmed that a student was involved in a playground accident,” the official statement said.

“The child fell on playground equipment, and no other students were involved in the injury. Four adults were present at the time. This matter has been turned over to our insurance company for further handling.”

UPDATE Feb. 2015:

There has been little in the way of updates from this story that continues to trend. The Justice For AvaLynn Facebook page shows the last post, specific to AvaLynn, from mom Lacey Harris was in October, where she posted a picture of her daughter surrounded by toys, and wrote:

We've been very busy with moving, changing schools, doctor's appointments, and just trying to get back to some semblance of normal.
I just wanted to post a quick picture with AvaLynn and some of the gifts she has received and say thank you again for your support, prayers, and generosity! You all have helped put a smile back on my sweetie's face and we are truly humbled and blessed!

In September, the Pascagoula School District announced they would spend $15,000 to install security cameras at all the district's playgrounds. In response, Harris posted:

Thanks, you guys! We did it! While the school has not been entirely forthcoming with their responsibilities to what happened to Ava, at least the installation of cameras on the playground will ensure that, if another child is harmed on the playground, there will be immediate answers available for the parents!

What are your thoughts? Sound off below.

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