Student, With Disabilities, Resilient Despite Bullying - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Student, With Disabilities, Resilient Despite Bullying

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A student with special needs at Plano West Senior High School is being tormented by threatening text messages. However, her resilient soul has not let the bullies take her down.

Shea Shawhan, 18, was born with a brain injury that has left her with the mental capacity of an 8-year-old. However, she can understand the text messages and it's really breaking her mother's heart. The mean and hurtful text messages have sparked a police investigation.

"Why are you still here?" one of the messages sent to her phone said. "Clearly no one wants you. You only have special needs friends and you're ugly and have terrible fashion sense. Honestly your clothes suck."

Another text read, "God doesn't like sluts. U need to be cleaned."

"People at West don't want her, that's the reason she has seizures because that's karma," another text to Shea read.

Shea's mother, Keri Riddell, tries very hard to shield her daughter from further onslaught. She even goes to school to sit with her daughter at lunch.

"When they referenced her seizures and said, 'I hope you have a seizure and die,' are you kidding me? How could you be so evil and cold," said Shea's mother.

She believes a group of teenagers are behind the texts. The texts are coming from fake numbers generated by web apps, which is making it a challenge for Riddell and Plano police to trace the senders.

"She's so sweet and I'm so frustrated I can't find out who it is. I just want to find that parent and say what did you do? Do you know your child is doing this?" said Keri.

Keri has changed Shea's number and blocked many of the fake numbers, but messages are still getting through. Sometimes, Shea would receive several nasty text messages a day for two weeks at a time.

Despite all this, Shea has been very resilient. She even sent a text to her mom saying, "I'm not popular and don't need to be, I only have 5 friends and that is plenty for me."

A Facebook page has also been created to support Shea. You can find it here. After her story aired last Thursday night, Facebook and Twitter exploded with support. She gained nearly 19,000 followers in 24 hours. The current page has more than 70,000 likes.

At Friday night's football game at Clark Stadium in Plano, family and friends and some students at both Plano East and Plano West wore "I'm With Shea" T-shirts. They made sure to show Shea and everyone else that they support her, not the bullies.

Many students also said they had no idea the cyberbullying was happening until the story aired.

Shea said she doesn't let the cruel words hurt her feelings and even has a message of her own for the senders, "It's not nice for you to do this to other people." In the text message to her mother Friday morning, she also wrote, "I won't let anyone tell me what I can and can't do. I will not let people bully me, I am strong. I have a disability but that doesn't mean I'm not smart. I am perfect, I am me and that is awesome."

On Friday, after the original story aired, she didn't receive one mean text message. Shea and her mom hope the text torture is over, but still want the senders to be punished.

Riddell and Plano police urge parents to report bullying to the school. "Parents watching what their kids are doing on their cell phones and online are more important now than before," said Officer David Tilley with Plano Police Department.

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