Kelsey Frederick had just turned 13. As a child of divorce, she was excited to celebrate her birthday at both of her parent's houses. A double birthday means double the fun, right? But upon returning to her mother's home crying and with a very different haircut, it was clear that something had gone horribly wrong.
This Innocent Teen’s Birthday Present Ended In An Extreme Haircut And Viral Online AngerPublished 2 weeks ago
Kelsey Frederick, a young girl from Ohio, had just celebrated her 13th birthday and was unbelievably excited to be entering her teen years. To celebrate the big day, she changed something about her appearance and was excited about the brand new look. This was the first time that the young Kelsey had altered her look, and she was thrilled to be coming into her own.
Little did poor Kelsey know, the joy and excitement of her 13th birthday would soon turn sour. What seemed an innocent gift from her mother, was about to become a traumatic and humiliating experience that would take Kelsey years to recover from.
Kelsey's parents had divorced years earlier and shared the custody of their teenage daughter. The divorce had not been a peaceful one, but they wanted to give their daughter stability, and so agreed to raise her together. Being a child of divorce often means having to split holidays and birthdays between houses, and sometimes celebrating more than once.
As such, Kelsey was used to celebrating her birthday twice each year; once with her mother and then again at her father's house. Even with all the moving around, Kelsey got to have two celebrations each year, which kind of made up for it. But this year, it was not a joyous occasion as usual.
Many children of divorce struggle to get used to the new dynamic, and often the addition of step-parents can be a difficult adjustment. For Kelsey, this was not so. Sarah Murray, her step-mother, had met Kelsey's dad in a unique circumstance, and immediately became a big part of Kelsey's life.
Sarah Murray and Kelsey's father fell in love after they met while volunteering at the local fire station and married not long after. Kelsey was excited to spend the second half of her birthday celebrations, as she did every year, with her father and step-mother. But before she went, her mother surprised her with an amazing gift.
Kelsey's mother, Christin Johnson, had something wonderful planned for her daughter's special day. Kelsey had been growing out her hair for many years and as she was only young, had never had the opportunity to play with the color of it. As she was now going into her teens, Christin decided that it was time for her daughter to embrace self-expression and choose the hair that she wanted.
The idea made Kelsey very excited, she had dreamed of a hair upgrade for months, and it was finally happening! This was the best gift her mother could have given her, and she couldn't wait to show her friends at school. But unbeknownst to Kelsey, this upgrade was about to have some heartbreaking consequences.
Kelsey had had basically the same hairstyle since she could remember. Sitting in the salon chair, she was whirling with anticipation and couldn't wait for the outcome. After a few hours of professional styling and dyeing, her new look was ready to be debuted to the world, and Kelsey was over the moon.
She had traded her naturally medium-brown hair for a lighter look. The hairdresser added blonde highlights throughout her long hair, and the results were fantastic. Christin was so proud of her beautiful little girl, and immediately uploaded a snap of her to Facebook, to show Kelsey's family and friends her fresh hairstyle. Soon after, it was time for Kelsey to go to her dad's house to continue the birthday celebrations, but nothing could have prepared Kelsey for what was to come.
Kelsey went to her father and step-mother's house for several days to celebrate her birthday but came back sooner than she was supposed to. Kelsey showed up, unannounced, on her mother's doorstep in tears, and it was clear something devastating had happened.
Kelsey was mortified and, utterly traumatized, ran crying into her mother's arms. Her newly dyed hair was gone. It had been cut off just an inch from the roots in an aggressive manner, and nothing of her beautiful blonde locks remained. It was clear that Kelsey would not have done this to herself, so what had happened here?
Different parents have different ideas of what is right for their children, that much is clear, and divorce is not always a smooth transition. It's often the difference in parenting style that causes divorce in the first place, as many parents struggle to see eye to eye when it comes to raising children.
But what Kelsey's dad did when he saw her new hair is not a difference in parenting style, and the police didn't think so either. He and his second wife, Sarah, were shocked at Kelsey's new look. They weren't happy for their daughter, and instead, they became enraged. They wanted to teach Kelsey and her mother a lesson and did so in the most drastic way.
Kelsey's father and step-mother forced her to have her hair cut and did so themselves. They believed that it wasn't OK for Kelsey to have dyed her hair, and so forced her to chop it off as a consequence while she was visiting them for her birthday.
After the incident, Kelsey fleed her father's home and left all her possessions behind in the house. She ran immediately to the safety of her mother's home and into her loving arms. Christin was horrified when her daughters showed up on her doorstep and knew she couldn't just let this terrible incident go without consequence.
The actions of her ex-husband were more than Christin was prepared to deal with, and she felt this wasn't an issue that could just be swept under the rug. Livid and utterly appalled, Christin decided that the world needed to know what had happened to her little girl, she needed to share what her ex-husband had done. She decided to post before and after images of her daughter's hair to her social media, to show her friends and family the atrocity that had occurred.
The first image showed an elated Kelsey with her new hairstyle. The second, showed her in tears and distraught, hiding her face from the camera as it captured her newly hacked off hair and the remnants of her blonde highlights. Christin made a Facebook page to support her daughter, and the page almost instantly went viral. As the news spread and gained support, Christin took her child to another salon that would help Kelsey feel like herself again.
Though Kelsey felt great shame over the incident, she was lucky enough to be surrounded by strong female figures who helped to build her up once more. Haylee Ann, Kelsey's godmother, accompanied her to the Lady Jane hair salon in Toledo, Ohio, where she was able to pick out a wig to cover her hacked-off hair.
The staff in the salon were kind and patient with Kelsey and let her try on as many wigs as she liked until she found the right fit. At last, Kelsey began to heal from the trauma of the incident and began to feel like herself again. But her mother and aunt were not going to stop there; they needed justice for their little girl.
Kelsey left the salon feeling grateful and happy and finally felt like she had some control over her own appearance. Christin made a Facebook post thanking the ladies in the salon for their generosity and grace, and commented on the special bond that Haylee Ann and Kelsey shared.
The staff in the salon had gathered for a group photo after the wig had been chosen, and Christin posted it to Facebook to show her gratitude. The ordeal with her father had rocked Kelsey's self-esteem and being surrounded by so many kind women helped to build her up again. For Kelsey's father, the repercussions of his actions were about to begin.
The traction gained by Christin's Facebook posts quickly saw hefty consequences come for Schaffen Frederick, Kelsey's father, and Sarah Murray. The story was reported to the Wood County Police Department and to the local Child Services, who immediately got involved.
The ordeal was not taken lightly, and the police opened a child abuse investigation following the report. As a result of the investigation, both Schaffen and Sarah were put on forced leave from their positions as volunteer firefighters by the local firehouse chief. While all this was going down, something amazing was about to happen to the young Kelsey.
After the haircutting incident, Kelsey had fled her father's home, leaving many of her clothes and possessions behind. Neither she nor her mother ever wanted to enter that house again, and so they considered their options. They decided to set up a GoFundMe for Kelsey so that she could replace some of the things that she had lost.
They set the monetary goal at $1,000, with the hopes to replace some of Kelsey's belongings. The GoFundMe pages didn't get going right away. In fact, somewhat suspiciously, the first two pages that were set up were flagged as "scams" by unknown users and were shut down. But the third attempt worked, and their community began donating to Kelsey's cause.
Kelsey's aunt and mother had hoped to raise $1,000, so they could help Kelsey find stability in her life again, after the trauma she had been through. But the kindness of people is often limitless, and their online community began to take the page by storm.
As well as monetary gifts, patrons of the page offered salon appointments, wigs, hair extensions, and even offered to pay the oncoming legal fees in Kelsey's lawsuit against Schaffen. The original goal of $1,000 was exceeded quickly, with one person donating a massive $2,000! The family ended up with $3,738, and while they were happy for the help, it wasn't going to fix everything.
Christin posted the photo of her daughter's jagged haircut in late January 2018. At the time, she had just wanted to blow off some steam and let her close friends and family know of what had happened; she never thought it would gain as many views as it did.
The post took off in the months to come and quickly spread across the internet. It now has over 25,000 shares and 40,000 likes and reactions on Facebook alone. Many who saw the post were horrified and resonated with the struggles of children of divorce. For Kelsey, something had to change.
A big issue following the incident was that of Kelsey's schooling. Until the incident, Kelsey had been living primarily with her father and step-mother, as they lived closer to the school that she attended. But Kelsey was never going back to that house, and so, she had to find another way to continue her schooling.
Part of the reason that Christin had started the GoFundMe was to raise money for the gas expenses that she would now have, as she needed to take Kelsey to school. With little money, Christin worried she wouldn't be able to afford it and even tried to switch Kelsey to a closer school. And her father and step-mother? What did they have to say about all of this?
We know that there are always two sides to every story, but Schaffen and Sarah have remained silent over the matter since it happened. Because of the legal repercussions of the incident, likely, they cannot make public comment before the lawsuit is settled. However, two months after the incident, Sarah Murray did make one post on her Facebook page that seems to be related to the backlash.
Sarah posted a meme to her account that reads "People talk about me behind my back and I just sit here like, 'Damn. I got myself a fan club'." It seems that Sarah has received a lot of backlash from the public, but she doesn't seem to be apologetic about the incident. Kelsey's fame on social media didn't come without its repercussions either.
Although the wave of kindness and support that Kelsey and her family received was welcomed, it wasn't only kind and encouraging comments that the family received. Going viral is not always a good thing. Everyone has their own opinion, and so along with the positivity came some negative comments.
Many felt that Christin had done the wrong thing by publically sharing this story on the internet. Lots of comments addressed their concerns that Christin had been irresponsible in sharing the images of her daughter and her personal information online, as Kelsey is only 13-years-old. Kelsey gave permission for the images to be shared, but as Kelsey is a child, this was not good enough for many.
As we all know, the internet is a place often full of petty and unkind people who hide behind their screens and spread anger and nasty messages. Some people even took to Kelsey's GoFundMe, mocking her traumatic incident and saying that what she had gone through was not that bad.
Comments such as this fail to realize the tremendous effect that such events can have on a young person's self-esteem and self-worth, and the consequences of such. The incident scared the young girl badly, as can be seen from her reaction and subsequent estrangement from her father. Luckily, the positive comments and responses to the incident far outweighed the negativity, and Kelsey has been showered in love.
Incredible things can often come from horrific situations. The influx of support and love that Kelsey received helped her regain the confidence that had been unceremoniously stripped from her. From the trauma emerged a beautiful young woman who has a strong support system and is met with love at every turn.
So many young people go through similar ordeals, and the perpetrators are never bought to justice. It is lucky for Kelsey that she had such an amazing team of people on her side that stood up for her and made a terrible situation right again.
No matter how long ago they were, most of us can remember those dreaded teenage years and the brutal transition from adolescence to adulthood. At the age of 16, in Michigan, Ogemaw Heights High School student, Whitney Kropp, was probably grappling with the “transition of trauma” as well as anyone her age.
As if the normal rigors of that age weren’t challenging enough, namely, maintaining her self-esteem, managing her growing desire for independence from her parents, battling the allure of cyber addiction, peer pressure, and dating, something else happened that should have been nothing short of a wonderful experience. She was nominated for Homecoming Queen. Her first sensation was gratification, but she soon began to second-guess her good fortune. She didn’t have many close friends and she’d always felt that she really didn’t fit into the social flow of her school.
Kropp remembers that she first learned about her nomination for Homecoming Queen from an announcement over the loudspeaker during class. That didn’t seem natural, somehow. She also recalled that she heard some classmates giggling at her, following the announcement.
She overheard a couple of students admitting that the nomination was a prank and that some of her classmates had nominated her as a joke to make fun of her and to embarrass her. Combined with the fact that she’d been picked on in the past, the prospect of being embarrassed in front of the whole school took shape. But instead of giving in to negative speculation, she decided to enjoy the excitement and the moment at hand.
Whitney Kropp was joyous as she returned home from school the day of the announcement. Upon hearing the big news, her family was as excited as she was. On her Facebook page, she posted “In the Homecoming Court! Little nervous this is going to be fun.”
With her family’s encouragement, she knew she was doing the right thing in maintaining a positive attitude. She wanted to think of the Homecoming nomination as an opportunity, but it was difficult to do because her inner uncertainty buffeted her between alternative feelings of euphoria and despair anchored by a flurry of “what if’ moments.
Long before the Homecoming Queen nomination, Whitney knew she didn’t fit in with the rest of the students. For some time, she’d been dying her hair offbeat colors and listening to music that was not popular among the other students. In a newspaper interview, she stated “I was bullied as a kid for being tall, but then I wasn’t picked on until high school.”
Her initial reaction of surprise when learning of her nomination turned into understanding when it became clear that classmates who didn’t like her were setting her up for failure. Since she didn’t have many close friends among the student body, she knew she wasn’t a likely preference for Homecoming Queen.
One would expect that any prank in high school (or at any other school level) would be initiated by a few students and applauded by, perhaps, a few others. Whitney was distressed to discover that many in her class seemed to be participating in this prank involving the Homecoming Queen nomination.
This realization weighed heavily on her. In the past, students had tended to marginalize her since she was “different,” so if, in fact, the majority of her classmates were actively supporting this vicious campaign against her, the potential for emotional and psychological damage to her already fragile self-image was elevated.
She never found out if it was true, but someone told her that a male nominee for Homecoming King didn’t accept the honor because she was the Homecoming Queen. This torrent of negative input catapulted Whitney into the throes of depression. Was she the laughing stock of the school?
At that point in time, she hated her school. She hated her classmates. Her most pervasive thoughts were, however, how she hated her life and herself. Why did she have to be different from everyone else? Why couldn’t she just one of the girls at school and not be singled out? She didn’t understand the seeming ring of revulsion that existed around her.
During an interview with the Detroit News, Whitney said that she was elected Homecoming Queen for the single reason that hateful girls in her class “thought it would be funny if the popularity contest was won by someone who was unpopular.” After she was nominated, she returned home filled with rage and hatred, mostly directed inwardly at herself for trusting the girls in her class to be nice.
Speaking with the CBS affiliate out of Saginaw, Michigan, she said, “I had actually reached a point where I had thought about suicide for how bad this case was in. I thought I wasn’t worthy at Ogemaw Heights at all.” Then, things began to turn around.
Fortunately, Whitney Kropp has a loving and supportive family. When she finally told them what was going on and the depths of her emotional reaction to it, her family closed forces around her and provided a strong foundation for enduring the trauma.
Their advice was to accept the Homecoming Queen recognition as an honor and to attend the Homecoming game as a Queen. That took some convincing but that wasn’t the total battle plan. Whitney’s sister, Alivia had an additional idea about what to do.
So far, it seemed that Whitney and her family were outnumbered by the students who concocted the Homecoming prank. That changed when Alivia, Whitney’s sister, started up a Facebook group called Support Whitney Kropp. With the media interviews generating awareness of the situation, the Facebook page soon had 96,000 supporters.
The Facebook page turned the prank into a platform for bullying awareness with Whitney as the center of attraction. Her mother said that the flood of positive emails, letters, and Facebook posts that poured in did a lot to help her daughter regain her footing and a positive attitude about her potential. So many people wanted to see Whitney appear as the Homecoming Queen!
Outstanding response to the Facebook page ignited major local business support for Whitney. One business donated new shoes. Another donated her Homecoming dress in her favorite color of orange. Among the donations were a homecoming dinner and even a limo to take her to the Homecoming coronation.
Any school setting can be a "bubble" that survives and thrives solely on the personalities of the students who populate it. Whitney became a victim of the bubble of her high school class - and of her own reactions to what was happening around her. Her Facebook page and the media interviews that followed helped to attract support and positive opinions from outside her class bubble. In addition to the input from her family, these outside sources played a big part in helping Whitney maintain a balanced approach to life.
Shannon Champagne, a local hairstylist, donated the makeover and spiffy new homecoming hairdo to Whitney. In an interview with People, she said, “Every girl looks forward to being on the homecoming court and for her name to be called. For her to be so excited about that and then just to find out it was all a joke, it really touched me.”
Whitney notes that the outpouring of support caught her off guard. “I thought before, ‘Oh, no one cares about me, she said. “I thought not even my own brother and sister care. But they’re proving me they do care. The world is proving they do, well not really care about me, but they care about the situation. So, I’m happy. I’m really honored.”
Even though an overwhelming level of support emerged for Whitney emerged through the national news coverage and her Facebook page, she still felt a high level of anxiety about attending the homecoming football game and her coronation during halftime. Despite all the positive indications, she didn’t know how the evening would turn out.
Whitney’s favorite color is orange, so that was the color of her gown that had been donated by a local business. Orange T-shirts were in abundance in the spectator stands with the slogan “It’s not cool to be cruel.” That night, she revealed, “It's just so much right now for me." It was a very big night for the victim of a high school prank and it was a night that may have changed the rest of her life.
Whitney had a brand-new homecoming hairdo to go with her beautiful orange gown as well as new shoes for her walk across the football field at halftime. She was shocked to see supporters in the bleachers from both schools - Ogemaw Heights High School and its opponent, Cadillac High School, rise when she took the field. Her father proudly took her arm and the coronation march began.
"It wasn't right what they did to her," said Alexis Dahlstrom, a 16-year-old Cadillac junior. "We wanted her to know that there are people out there who support her." Dahlstrom and her friends learned about Kropp's story on Facebook. Ogemaw Heights High School Sophomore, Heather Oyster, said, “Whitney is strong. I don’t know that I would have had the courage to go.” Ogemaw Heights won the homecoming game, 24-21, over Cadillac, seemingly in Whitney's honor.
A mix of local and regional news teams was on hand to record the magic night. Whitney gazed in amazement at the thousands of people who had shown up to lend their cheers and applause in her honor. They were all focused on her, Whitney Kropp, someone she thought no one cared about.
Sharon Kotts posted the following comments on Whitney’s Facebook page, “When I saw your story on the news last night, I cried tears for you and for those who hurt you. I pray that they will learn from the strength that you have shown. May you continue to show the world the wonderful person you are. Great job for standing up for yourself and for the message you have sent to others. You have touched many lives.”
As her special night wound down, Whitney expressed an equally-special message to folks around the country, "The kids that are bullying, do not let them bring you down," she told reporters. "Stand up for what you believe in, and go with your heart and go with your gut. That's what I did, and look at me now. I'm just as happy as can be."
Whitney also expressed high praise for her high school in contrast to the negative actions of a few students. “The school is fantastic. They treated me so well here and I couldn’t ask for more,” she said. In the meantime, her Facebook page had exploded with more than 126,000 likes.
According to dailymail.com, Whitney’s mother Bernice Kropp said, “It is absolutely awesome to see her stand up. And it’s so cool to see emails we’re getting from parents and other students from all over the place telling her stories and how it helped them and it touched them. My daughter is out there as an inspiration to a lot of people, and it’s a really cool thing.”
Her sister Alivia saw how Whitney was suffering under the pressure of the prank that was played on her. Alivia stepped in, “I told her … you’ve got the courage, you’ve got the strength to go do it, so go do it and have fun.” Alivia continued, “It’s very hard to see someone hurt and upset, and you want to do everything in your power to make sure they’re not that way.”
The homecoming prank on Whitney has created fame and focus on Whitney and on the topic of bullying. She and her family have received thousands of emails, Facebook posts, and letters from around the country. Word is that the family has even received an offer to take her story to Hollywood in the form of a movie.
While Whitney’s family doesn’t particularly care for the fame that has come to their daughter and to them, they are thankful that increased awareness has been brought to the issue of bullying. And, of course, they are grateful that the experience has helped Whitney find her voice and her footing as a young woman.
Within a few months, Whitney Kropp transitioned from a young student questioning her role in life and in her school to a new foundation of self-confidence and purpose. Instead of the uncertain 16-year-old who was searching for an identity in September of 2012 in a small high school 140 miles northwest of Detroit, by December of 2012, she had a national following, a platform, and a potential new career path as an anti-bullying advocate.
Her momentous transformation wouldn’t have been possible without the love and encouragement from friends, family, and ultimately, a nationwide constituency that responded with compassion to a young girl in need.
Teens and preteens face numerous, potentially painful challenges as they transition from adolescence to adulthood: physical, emotional, and behavioral changes, educational stresses, threats of substance abuse, social problems, and peer pressure, to name just a few.
Fortunately for Whitney, her experience was publicized. The resulting response was tremendously helpful in recognizing bullying and in creating solutions to prevent it. Unfortunately for many, bullying experiences are kept private. Whitney’s story is a very positive account that will, hopefully, encourage others to bring their accounts into the proper sunlight.
There are five basic steps to report bullying or suspected bullying. First, report the bullying to school authorities. Second, if the school ignores your report, contact the School Inspection Authority in your local school system and submit a written report indicating that you’ve advised the local school system with no results. Third, to supplement your bullying report, arrange professional counseling for your child.
Fourth, make sure that the school system is very clear about the seriousness of your case. Parents of the victim can demand accountability from the educational institution since the law states that institutions are liable for damages caused to minor age children. Fifth, if you still don’t find a solution after submitting relevant paperwork, presenting evidence, mediating with the institution or the inspection authorities, file a legal complaint and enroll your child in another school.