WALNUT COVE, N.C. (WGHP) — The amount of bullying in schools has increased significantly over the past five years.

Data from the Boys and Girls Club of America shows 40 percent of children say they were bullied on campuses in the past year. Pre-pandemic in 2019, that number was only 26 percent.

One Stokes County father tells FOX8 he believes bullying is the reason his daughter took her own life.

Kallie Fagg was an eighth grader at Southeastern Stokes Middle School, who committed suicide less than a week ago only three days into a new school year.

Her dad Jimmy Fagg said she was a bright, artistic and kind girl, who never had trouble making friends. When she started middle school, he knew she was getting teased but never imagined it would get to this point.

Now this father is working to make sure other parents don’t have to experience the pain he’s going through.

“I just don’t want to see anybody else I know have to put their kids in the ground,” Jimmy said. “Nobody should have to do that.”

It’s a reality the dad never thought he’d be facing.

“We just wish she would’ve talked to us because if I’d have known she was hurting as bad as she was that day, I would have never let her out of my sight,” he said.

On Aug. 30, Jimmy told his daughter Kallie he loved her, not knowing it would be the last time.

“I just wish she could have seen how special she was while she was here,” he said.

The eighth grader told her friends and family this was going to be “her year.” She had won an art competition for a painting she created. She was nearly done making her own video game.

Her talent, potential and experiences she had to look forward to are the things her father is mourning most.

“That’s what I’m going to miss,” he said. “Walking her down the aisle, getting that father/daughter dance with her, getting to go to the hospital where she had her first baby and see my grandbaby.”

Jimmy wishes Kallie would’ve understood how beautiful she was before she made the decision to take her own life. But he doesn’t want her death to be in vain.

“I don’t want to see any other family go through this,” he said. “I don’t want to go through this. The next couple days are going to be miserable, but I don’t have a choice. Other families can if we can figure out a way to help them.”

He started #kindnessforkallie, which can be found on signs throughout Walnut Cove and in hundreds of posts online. The goal is to spread positivity and support for kids like Kallie who are victims of bullying.

“My daughter would be tickled at the amount of people who have poured out stories about her and how she’s touched them,” Jimmy said.

Kallie’s funeral service will be Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at First Christian Church in Walnut Cove.

FOX8 reached out to Stokes County Schools to see if district leaders are considering changing any policies or adding programs to prevent a similar tragedy and received the following statement from Superintendent Dr. Brad Rice:

It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts we share about Kallie Fagg’s death, by suicide. We are devastated by this tragic loss, and our thoughts and condolences go out to the family, friends, and all those affected by this incident. 

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During this challenging period, it is important for us to come together as a community. We encourage everyone to support and uplift one another, offering comfort and empathy throughout the grieving process. Our school counselors, staff, teachers, and administrators are here to provide assistance and offer guidance to all.  

In addition to providing emotional support, the school administration will review and reassess policies and procedures surrounding student safety and well-being.  We want to ensure that all students feel secure and protected within the school environment.

We would like to extend our gratitude to the community for their outpouring of support and kindness during this difficult time. Your understanding and compassion are truly appreciated by all of us at Southeastern Stokes Middle School and Stokes County Schools.

Superintendent Dr. Brad Rice