Kirk Smalley’s son took his life in May of 2010. Ty Smalley, 11, was smaller compared to other boys his age. And, in the end, he could not go on dealing with the two years of abuse from bullies at his middle school.
Bullied children live in fear on a daily basis, and for Ty that type of existence was not worth the anguish. The death of Ty has turned his father into an advocate for those who cannot defend themselves very well.
Kirk travels around the Oklahoma City area discussing the negative impact of bullying to school audiences. He has made a promise in the memory of his son to help protect other children from being bullied. His mission has turned into an extensive campaign.
Kirk has found that the school districts have no uniform methodology for dealing with bullies and no uniform penalty for the disruptive behavior. He continues on, though, in hopes that he may help someone from the despair they may feel and be relieved from the stresses of bullies.
I remember middle school in St. Petersburg, FL, although you may call it junior high, depending on where you live. I recall hearing a teacher describe some of the children behaving unruly as animals and just plain horrible. Personally, I have never seen as many fights or children getting into one sort of trouble or another than I did in middle school.
One time at my school, a fight broke out, as they did almost every other day it seemed, which included three kids and two teachers. The image of my science teacher getting hit on the cheek and his glasses flying off is a vivid memory. Kids would always use fear to get their way and, if that didn’t work, then threats followed by physical aggression would start.
I can recall my little brother getting picked on by kids, name calling and threats of violence. Seeing him sad because of the way they treated him made me chase after the school bus one time. I just wanted to talk to the kids, of course, but the driver didn’t stop.
We all know that bullies are cowards on the inside. They prey on people they think they can dominate to make themselves feel stronger. Some children may have a troubled home life that leaves them feeling bad, so they vent their frustrations on someone else. Sometimes, kids just look for trouble because they are bored.
Regardless of the reasons for bully behavior, it should be controlled at schools. It is totally unacceptable for school districts to not protect all the children within the school’s perimeter. Bullies are not superior; they are opportunistic. If teachers and administrative staff are aware of a child’s tendency to act aggressively toward others, behavioral counseling must be given to the abusive child and the child being abused.
Many schools maintain a culture that does not tolerate bullies, citing that the school is a Bully Free Zone. This usually helps, but will not eliminate the problematic behavior. If left unchecked, children will behave as they always have, and sometimes that means they will shun what they do not understand. Therefore, parents must lead the way by personally educating their kids, preparing them not only to do well with academics, but to work well with others.
Hopefully schools and parents will teach their children the soft skills they need in life, teaching how to live together peaceably and not hurting others for fun. Because even if a bully is having fun, he/she may not know the pain they could be creating.
Tiongan, M. (2010). Father of Ty Smalley Continues Mission to Stop Bullying. Seerpress.com