"Bullycide" comes to Hannibal
Mon, 25 Apr 2011 21:54:08 GMT —
Kirk Smalley says, "Every kid that's in school now-a-days has either been bullied, is a bully, or they've seen it happen."
Kirk Smalley has seen what happens when the effect of bullying rears its ugly head.
On May 13th of 2010, Kirk Smalley and his wife Laura's lives changed dramatically.
Their eleven year old son Ty had been bullied for two years.
On May 13th, his bully started in again, this time Ty decided to stand up for himself and fight back.
A teacher saw the fight, Ty was sent to the office and suspended for three days.
His mom, who worked at the school, told Ty to go home, do his homework and chores, and she and his father would talk about what happened when they all got home.
When Laura got home late that afternoon, she found Ty in her bedroom...he had taken his own life.
On Father's Day, Kirk Smalley made a promise to his son to put an end to bullying in this world.
Kirk Smalley says, "Every pair of ears we reach is a pair of lips that spreads the message."
That message is plain and simple. I am somebody. Kirk Smalley brought his simple and straight forward message to sixth and seventh graders at Hannibal Middle School. More than 500 kids sat silently, intently listening to Smalley share the store of his boy Ty, who will be eleven years old forever.
Smalley says, "By the time we walk away from here, everyone of these kids will feel like they knew my son. You're going to see a big change. They will carry this message. It will last through the summer, and carry it into next school year, I promise you that."
And Smalley is a man to keep his promises. Smalley is a construction worker from Oklahoma. He starts the presentation saying he is not a public speaker. But he commands the room and the attention of every single person in the room.
Smalley says, "I gotta talk to the kids. I'll talk to any adults that will listen, but we gotta talk to the kids, that's where it begins. These kids will keep this alive. The adults will forget about this."
Smalley was invited to attend a community forum on bullying by some Hannibal parents. He agreed to come to the forum, but insisted on giving his presentation to the middle school, and the school district happily obliged.
Smalley says, "Most of these bullied children don't ask to be in this position. They can't help that they're overweight, or skinny, or scrawny, or wear glasses, or have red hair. They can't help who they are."
They are somebody. That's the number one point Smalley drives home in his presentation. He asks who in the audience has been bullied. They are somebody. He asks who in the audience is a bully. They are somebody. Smalley says by sharing his family's story, reliving that phone call he got from his wife, reliving that day over and over in his head is tough, but it's what he has to do to keep that promise to his son. He uses the international symbol for I love you. He shows the kids the symbol, and tells them all he loves them and he's got their back. He asks for the audience to reciprocate whenever they feel the need...especially when the presentation gets a little tough for him. That shows they have his back and will continue spreading his message that everyone is somebody.
Smalley says he never broke a promise to his son, and he doesn't intend on starting now.
After hearing of Ty's suicide, a group of students in Oklahoma City started an organization called Stand for the Silent.
The Smalley's got in touch with the group, and together they've started reaching out to schools all across the country.
Kirk Smalley says he works construction only about a day a week because he's spending most of his time talking to students around the nation.
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Watch this video produced by the students of Stand for the Silent.