The letter written to the Wilhelm family from Sarah Booth Riss.
Print-out of harassing text messages.
Folder filled with harassing messages.
By Talia Kaplan
St. Louis (KSDK) - Bulled to the point of suicidal thoughts. That's how one teenage girl describes her life during the last few years.
Sydney Wilhelm of Webster Groves says for two years a group of girls tormented her both physically and verbally. At the time, she says taking her own life seemed like her only way out.
Sydney says her life changed dramatically when she was in 7th grade. That's when she was bullied by a group of popular girls at Hixson Middle School in Webster Groves.
"The group of girls would stalk my house. They would watch my house, they would call my phone at all hours of the night, they would throw food at me during lunch, they started rumors, and turned lots of people against me," she said.
She says the rumors spread quickly especially because of things like Facebook and MySpace.
"Because of all of it, my self esteem went down," she said.
Her parents, Michelle and Chris, say their outgoing daughter transformed into an introvert.
"She was depressed, very withdrawn from society, wanted to keep it within. She stuck her head in the sand," said Chris.
"The bullying was so bad that it made me think about killing myself a lot. I started cutting," said Sydney.
"We had to admit her into the psychiatric outpatient. I think that was an eye opening experience for all of us. And I knew at that point that it had affected her more than I ever knew it had or could" said Michelle.
The Wilhelm's reached out to Tina Meier with the Megan Meier Foundation. Tina's daughter, Megan, committed suicide five years ago after receiving cruel messages on MySpace. Now, Tina dedicates her life to fighting bullying.
"We took this to the district with Tina Meier in hopes of some change. The district promised a lot of things and never came through on any of the things that they promised. Thank god for Tina Meier on our team. Tina has been with us the entire journey and has helped us get through this and continues til this day," said Chris.
Sydney says Meier helped her overcome her darkest days.
"She made me stronger because she shared her story with me and I realize and I saw what it did to her and so I don't want to do that to my parents," said Sydney.
Sydney now plays an active role in the foundation and has found the courage to share her story.
"Seeing her blossom into this girl who is bubbly, and smiling, and willing to step out of who she was before definitely shows how much she has grown," said Meier.
"Even though the bullying settled down in the past couple of months, I still I live with it every day. I hope bullies realize it's bad and it needs to stop," said Sydney.
NewsChannel 5 reached out to the Webster Groves School District but they said they cannot comment on specific cases.
For more information on the Megan Meier Foundation, visit them online or call them at 636-777-7823.
Here is a full transcript of the letter letter Sarah Booth Riss, Superintendent of Schools, wrote to the Wilhelm's on April 29, 2010:
"Thank you for meeting earlier this month with Jason Heisserer, Gayle Hennessey and me. I'd like to update you on some actions we've taken at Hixson. Our goal is to put students first and ensure that our school environment supports learning to the highest degree possible.
"First, Ms. Hennessey is working with Dr. Heisserer to develop a plan to improve student behavior. The specific student behavior you shared with us was addressed and appropriate consequences issued shortly after our meeting. Counselors will receive anti-bullying training in May and one counselor will attend an anti-bullying conference. Ms. Hennessey will also develop a district-wide Safe and Respectful Students Committee to review discipline policies and assist with anti-bullying plans. This committee will include staff, parents and possibly students. In addition, Ms. Hennessey has met with several agencies to discuss additional resources for anti-bullying efforts.
"Dr. Heisserer and I will continue to work with the Hixson team to help them better handle challenging situations. The Board of Education Policy Committee will review policy related to bullying. Please know that we take such situations seriously. We expect all individuals to be treated with respect at all times and by all people in our schools. If you have any questions or would like further information, please call me or Ms. Hennessey at 961-1233."