Bullies at Aolani Dunbar’s Roopville Elementary School in Georgia have refused to leave the 8-year-old alone after she came in with new hair extensions last month. The severity of Aolani’s torment came to a head when classmates tugged on her hair so hard that they ripped off part of her scalp.
"They kept pulling it and pulling it, especially on the playground," Aolani told WSB-TV. "Everybody got a chance, and I was in the gazebo sitting there crying because I have no friends to play with that will protect me."
Following a trip to the emergency room, the third-grader was forced to shave her entire head to prevent infection and may receive skin grafts to correct the damage. Doctors fear the area of the scalp where the young girl’s hair used to be may never grow back.
Aolani is now suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of the attack and has started the process of switching schools, according to her grandmother Dorris Bearden. Her attackers, on the other hand, face little to no disciplinary action with the exception of one boy who has been hit with an in-school suspension. According to Bearden, attempts to inform the school as soon as she discovered the wound fell on deaf ears.
"When I saw just the horror of it, I just started to cry. I cried as I unbraided her hair and the hair fell out in my hands," Bearden told WSB-TV. "It's not only a temporary effect. It's something that could scar for life."
Thankfully, with the support of her family, Aolani is working through the traumatic event and putting it behind her. Friends and family have volunteered to shave their own heads as a show of solidarity. They have also asked people for donations to Locks of Love so Aolani and other children receive the wigs they need to feel some sense of normalcy.
"We didn't understand the extent of the damage when all that happened," Aolani’s mother, Sarah Charles, told the NY Daily News. "Parents, please be diligent and listen to these kids! And schools listen to these kids. Bullying needs to stop."
Visit the Prayers for Aolani Facebook page to show your support.