Daniel was 13 years old when he wrote that he had a “great life.” Just a few weeks later, he was dead.
According to his letter, Daniel’s “great life” spiraled out of control right after he started junior high. Five classmates had bullied him incessantly. And when Daniel tried to defend himself, fights broke out.
Daniel wrote that he had “begged and pleaded” with his teachers and the school’s principal to intervene, but they “didn’t do ANYTHING!”
The school denied any wrongdoing, but the bullying didn’t stop until … sadly … Daniel ended his own life.
Daniel’s story is tragic. The rest of us can’t overlook the important lessons spelled out in his own handwriting. When children say they’re being bullied, we have to listen and take action on their behalf.
According to some estimates, 160,000 children on any given weekday will stay home because they’re being bullied at school. That’s a number equivalent to the population of a city the size of Salem, Oregon or Springfield, Massachusetts. Most of these kids suffer with a litany of physical and psychological responses because they’re so terrified of the way they’re being treated.
I’m familiar with that level of fear. I well remember the bully who was after me when I was in third grade. My ability to outrun him was the only thing that protected me.
And my sister Kim. When she heard about my bully, she jumped out from behind the bushes along my path home and said, “Don’t bother my brother anymore.” He didn’t.
Every bullied child needs an advocate in their corner like I had. After his death, Daniel’s mom told the media, “My son shouldn’t have had to die to be heard.” That statement ought to be true for every child.
On today’s radio program, we’ll have an important conversation about how we can all reach out to children who need protection from bullies. Our guest is well-known author, Nancy Rue. As a former teacher and an accomplished speaker, she has interacted with thousands of kids and has heard their stories. I think you’ll find her insights helpful and empowering for you and your child.
On “Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies” we’ll discuss what leads children to bully, the signs your child is being bullied and how you and your child can respond. We’ll also give advice for parents whose child is the one doing the bullying.
I’d also like to hear from you as well. What have your experiences been with bullying? What worked and what didn’t? Comment below and share your perspective.