In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a father named Kirk Smalley is shouting loud and clear about bullying in this nation. His son, Ty, just 11 years old, committed suicide after being constantly bullied in his school. Ty was called names and was small for his age. He tolerated pushing and shoving, and eventually Ty decided to push back. Unlike the bullies who had tortured him, he was suspended from school. In despair, he took his own life. There are no federal laws. We as parents desperately need them.
I know how Kirk Smalley feels about the constant bullying. I do not know how it feels to lose my precious son over it. We took matters into our own hands. Here in Georgia, there are anti-bullying laws, but school districts will not adhere until you force them.
Our bullying episodes began when my son Harley entered kindergarten. Harley is a sweet, intelligent and peaceful child. These activities occurred at a Northwest Georgia semi-rural school. Parents are forced to push the state law when detached administration figures will not.
In kindergarten, he was bullied by two girls who were the daughters of teachers at the school. Wherever teachers teach here, their children are allowed to matriculate as a benefit to personnel. This stacks the odds against students whose parents are not school employees. Preferential treatment, turning a blind eye and unwillingness to correct a peer’s child results in bullying behavior.
Normally, most parents would not expect girls to be bullying boys. In our situation, this was the case. His food was stolen every day at lunch, his glasses were knocked off, and he was ridiculed. His teacher did nothing because the mothers were close friends and co-workers. When I finally confronted the situation-loudly-Harley was then continually punished and picked on in retribution by the adults involved.
We finally made it through that crazy year, and hoped for better times in first grade. Things were improved in the classroom, but not in the hallways. During this time, a family moved into a vacant house next door to us. The older son was very large, overweight and obnoxious. He would enter our yard and shout obscenities at my son.
At school, he would harass him in the pickup line, hallways, cafeteria, and at school-wide events. I visited the assistant principal and reported him, as the “experts” say. My complaints were ignored. Teachers stood by and watched it happen. Not until I began documenting every single occurrence in detail, quoting Georgia state law, naming teachers by name in writing, and threatening to secure restraining orders against the child for stalking did anything change. I sent these typed reports all over the county, printed on neon-yellow paper so they could not be ignored.
Faced with legal action, they paid attention, knowing they could be forced to testify in court. Because of major teacher cutbacks in Georgia, it was not conducive to be in the limelight. Written documentation is the only way to address bullying. Talking does nothing. Following up on visits in writing, addressing everyone by name, and sending a copy to every official in town does.
I moved my son to another school. He was harassed only a few times. I did experience the same distracted attitude from teachers. They feel it is not their job description to break up bully rings. I am now homeschooling Harley. Insanity in the schools is just not worth it. I refuse to allow bullies, most of whom are often jealous and sport low academic ability, to wreck my son’s future or self-esteem.
Sources: WALB-TV, CBS News