Claim: A young girl named AvaLynn sustained what appear to be serious injuries in a playground attack.
Example: [Collected via Facebook, August 2014]
On Tuesday, August 26, 2014, Lacey Harris was called go come pick up her daughter at Arlington Elementary School in Pascagoula, Mississippi, because AvaLynn had been injured in an accident. The sight Lacey found when she got to Ava's school was a parents' nightmare: her face swollen, cut, and bruised beyond recognition.
Lacey rushed Ava to the family pediatrician, 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.
AvaLynn informed Lacey that she was assaulted by another student: that she was kicked repeatedly in the face until she fell off of the slide on the school's playground. The school informed Lacey were no teachers present when the incident occurred, and because of that, no one could prove whether or not another student had harmed Ava.
After days of Lacey, friends, and family members reaching out to local news stations and to Facebook and other social media bodies, the school finally released a statement: AvaLynn was injured as the result of an accident, one that involved no other children. Although a police report was filed, Pascagoula Police Department states that they are not investigating the situation.
The school basically claims that Ava injured herself, as all the photos depicting her injuries will debunk. The local PD claims that there has been no criminal act, which the injury photos also disprove.
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.
[Collected via Twitter, August 2014]
— Bands That Save (@BandsThatSave) August 30, 2014
Origins: On the evening of 29 August, photos of a small girl began to trend on Twitter with the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn. However, the graphic images that went viral on Twitter lacked context in many of the retweets, leaving users confused and worried for the little girl depicted in the photos.
The Facebook page Justice for AvaLynn has accumulated more than 9,000 fans in the short time it has been live, and it features many pictures of the injuries allegedly sustained by AvaLynn in what her mother says was a playground attack.
In addition to the Facebook campaign to draw attention to AvaLynn's plight, a Go Fund Me page has been established for the girl's family, to help with "AvaLynn's medical needs, travel expenses, legal fees, etc. due to AvaLynn's mother's lost wages." Thus far, the page has raised more than $2,000 of a $10,000 goal for these expenses.
A local news site corroborates that a little girl named AvaLynn in Pascagoula, Mississippi was the subject of a police report. Mother Lacey Harris filed the report on Thursday,
Pascagoula Police Department Lt. Jim Roe told GulfLive.com that Harris filed a report, explaining:
"The mother alleges another child kicked her child on the slide ... Right now, there's no indication something criminal took place. I have spoken with school security and an assistant superintendent is investigating the matter."
In a statement, the Pascagoula School District denied the involvement of any other children in the injuries Harris says daughter AvaLynn sustained:
"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."
While the "Justice For AvaLynn" hashtag continued to trend, police in Pascagoula said there was no active investigation into the incident involving the little girl. But several days later, the local police chief said an investigation was ongoing:
Police Chief Kenny Johnson said contrary to earlier reports police are investigating.
But based the police report, "it wouldn't be a criminal investigation," Johnson said. "If a 5-year-old injures another 5-year-old, that's not a criminal act."
He said officials are working to determine what happened and if an adult was involved. But he said, "There is nothing indicating an adult was involved in the actual injuries."
He said the state Department of Human Services is participating in the investigation and will be doing comprehensive follow-up interviews.
Last updated: 3 September 2014