Education officials and a community are stunned after a 16-year-old student at a high school in Wilmington, Delaware was killed after a fight in a bathroom.
The sophomore, Amy Joyner-Francis, from New Castle, Delaware, was involved in a fight with two fellow students at Howard High School of Technology, which is part of the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District. She suffered injuries severe enough to warrant an airlift to a nearby hospital where she later died with he parents by her side.
Two students are being questioned by the Wilmington police, but no charges have been filed yet. Authorities believe that no weapon was used. After the incident, students were sent home for the day. Parents learned of the incident through a series of robocalls.
According to reporters from NBC News, students from the school said they believe the fight was started over a boy. “A lot of families were destroyed today,” Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams said. “I’m so upset that the young lady lost her life today. Things like this shouldn’t happen. My heart bleeds for the family, the kids that go to this school, administrators and our city.”
Police reported in a statement that officers were called to the school around 8:20 a.m. The girl was flown to A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital in critical condition. The specific cause of death remains unknown.
Reportedly, students were surprised to learn about the girl’s death. Most said she was not known as being a troublemaker, and the school itself has had relatively few problems throughout its history. In the last four years, the school reported no violent felonies. However, according to Brittany Horn of DelawareOnline, writes that there were 14 incidents of disorderly conduct in the high school last year. Some are beginning to worry that this incident indicates a rising level of school violence not only in Wilmington, but nationwide.
Indeed, friends of Amy said she was known for breaking up fights. The school participates in an anti-bullying campaign each spring. “She didn’t condone violence,” says Andrea Wisher, a close friend of the deceased. “She was a lover, not a fighter. That’s how she was.”
That Thursday night, a vigil was held attended by parents, students, and community members. Reporters from ABC News write that 16 blue balloons – Amy’s favorite color – were released in her memory. Classes resumed on Friday, and grief counselors were made available to all students in need. A Thursday night debate among Wilmington’s eight Democratic mayoral candidates was postponed. The topic of the debate was to be public safety.
A city councilman, Nnamdi Chukwuocha, said fights among young women are not uncommon. He said that many city programs and policymakers focus on fights between young men, particularly young black men. Thus, organizations often overlook the needs and consequences relating to young women.
“Some of the worst fights I’ve seen in the community have been with females,” says Chukwuocha. “We need to address the needs of the young women. As of right now, I do ’t think we’re doing that.”