The moment that 15-year-old Hannah Combs felt the super glue reach her scalp, the pain was excruciating and the humiliation was worse. However, the inspirational fallout from the incident was more about strength and compassion than vengeance.
This all happened when Combs was in her freshman year at Harker Heights High School in Killeen, Texas. And just like every other teenage girl, Combs was doing her best to settle into life after middle school.
She loved to draw, she had a nice group of friends, and she had even joined her school’s Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. On September 14, 2015, however, everything in her life would change.
On this day, Combs was speaking to one of her friends at the school gate when a boy sneaked up to her. Then, almost without warning, Combs had super glue poured into her hair, and her scalp felt like it was on fire. It seemed to her that it just another horrible display of contempt and bullying.
After all, Combs had suffered at the hands of bullies for years. And yet this time it seemed that her tormentor had taken it a step too far. Indeed, Combs was in agony, and the damage to her scalp was serious.
“It instantly started burning,” Combs said in an interview with KHD News. “It felt like my head was on fire. It was horrible.”
Combs was, then, rushed to the school nurse’s room to get her head looked at. And, as the pain was so severe that Combs could hardly speak, one of her shocked friends called Combs’ parents.
When Christian Grimmer – Combs’ dad – turned up, he was understandably furious. That’s because, from his point of view, staff at the school weren’t doing much about the incident and the perpetrator hadn’t been taken into custody.
Therefore, Grimmer took his daughter straight to the doctor’s surgery. Shockingly, Combs was diagnosed with first-degree burns to her scalp. But that wasn’t the worst of it for Combs.
“I realized I lost my favorite thing about me. I loved my hair,” said Combs. “My hair was the only thing I liked about myself, honestly. I lost it for no reason.” Indeed, Combs’ mom Jessica later took her daughter to have her head shaved.
As well as it all being thoroughly humiliating, though, the fallout from the incident would carry on for days. In fact, Combs was still in pain over a week after it happened.
As a result of the ordeal, Combs and her mom decided to start a Facebook community page called Justice for Hannah to address the issue of bullying. The page certainly struck a chord, too, as it has garnered more than 55,000 likes to date.
And Combs has been incredible throughout. “Bullying is wrong,” she wrote on the page. “Sometimes it’s the bully that really needs the help… maybe this has made him see that he has been doing things the wrong way.”
And what of the boy who caused her such pain? After the incident, he received three days of in-school suspension. To many, it seemed like a small price to pay given the pain that Combs went through.
Needless to say, Combs’ parents were very unhappy. Indeed, they kept their daughter out of school until the boy had been transferred to another institution and Combs could return without fear of seeing him.
But they didn’t stop there. Combs’ dad further demanded that the school review the student code of conduct. Assault charges were filed against the boy through Killeen Independent School District Police, too.
But the boy and his mom, who both preferred not to be named, had a very different story. Apparently, they said, it was all an accident and he never meant to drop the glue onto his victim’s head.
“He did something wrong, yes,” his mother told ABC News 13. “But he is a kid and these are adults talking about bashing his brains out or getting a baseball bat and beating him so bad that he’s hanging by a thread.” Such adults are clearly missing the point about bullying being bad.
What’s more, the Killeen School District has come under a lot of heat since the incident. Indeed, in February 2016 the father of another girl filed a lawsuit against it claiming that it had failed his daughter and that she had been bullied.
In the end, though, it’s Combs who will win out. She’s an inspiring young woman, after all, and she surely has a great future ahead of her. “I’m just a normal kid with strong beliefs,” she told MTV News. “When it comes to bullying, I stand up for people.”