OKLAHOMA PARENTS COMBAT BULLYING, SUICIDE WITH ‘STAND FOR THE SILENT’
OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma father is on a mission to save young children who are planning to commit suicide after being bullied.
Ty Smalley was only 11-year-old when he committed suicide on May 13, 2010.
The sixth-grader from Perkins had been bullied repeatedly at school.
“They’d call him names. Shorty, Tiny Tim, shrimp. They’d shove him into lockers. Cram him in trashcans. Dumped chocolate milk on his head,” said Kirk Smalley, Ty’s father.
Smalley and his wife say they went to the principal several times, but the bullying persisted.
“The kid that mainly bullied him pushed him and Ty turned him around and shoved back, and he was the one that got caught,” he said.
He was suspended that day, which was the last time anyone would see him alive again.
“She found out that Ty didn’t do his homework. Instead, our boy killed himself on our bedroom floor,” he said.
Ty’s death sent a shock wave through the community.
“You are now God’s angel. Heaven is blessed to have you. I was blessed to have known you,” Kirk Smalley reads a letter from a teacher to Ty after he passed away.
In the days after Ty’s death, Kirk Smalley decided that he would make it his mission to stop other children from taking their own lives.
He partnered with students from OSU-OKC’s ‘Upward Bound’ program to start “Stand for the Silent” in 2010. It’s a nonprofit with the mission to end bullying in schools.
Since then, they’ve spoken to a million children in more than 1,200 schools around the world. They’ve met with President Obama and Lady Gaga and helped save many young lives.
“Those messages we get from those kids that say, ‘I was going to do it. I’m that one in four. I was going to do it tonight while mommy and daddy were asleep. I had it all planned out and I heard what you had to say and now I’m not going to do that and I want to help,’” Smalley said.
Kirk believes social media makes it easier for children to bully their peers.
“Do a little Photoshop work. They can make it look like you’re doing anything they want you to do. They can create a fake Facebook account and they can post that photo online and literally ruin your life with the click of a button,” he said.
He’s asking children to take a pledge to treat everyone with respect including themselves. Also, he says it is up to them to speak up if they see bullying.
“They’re the ones that can stop this. They’re the ones that can fight this,” he said.
There is a youth crisis help line children can call at 1-855-201-2121.
Norman and Edmond Public Schools say they have procedures in place for students caught bullying.
First Lady Melania Trump took a pledge to combat cyber bullying.