Students at the Kiamichi Technology Center received the message about bullying loud and clear Friday. During two sessions on Friday, Kirk Smalley spoke to students about the effects bullying can really have.
Smalley’s son took his own life at the age of 11 after being sent home when he stood up to his bully.
He told the story of how his son was sent home and how his wife found their son when she got home that afternoon.
He told of how his son’s best friend was beat up for defending his son while classmates made jokes about his death.
Since then, Smalley and his wife Laura have teamed up with Stand for the Silent to speak against bullying. Stand for the Silent was started by a group of 64 high school students in a program called Upward Bound.
Smalley said these students had had enough bullying and decided to make a stand. He said the kids in the group don’t always like each other but they show love and respect for each other.
Smalley told the students that it is not for his son’s sake that he spreads the message because his son is not bullied any longer.
It is for the sake of those still bullied and future children that he makes a stand.
The message of his speech centered around one thought: “I am somebody.” He shared how one person can make a difference in the fight against bullying.
Smalley quoted: “I know it takes a lot of strength. It takes a lot of courage just to be the one in a group of our own friends that can stand up and say ‘you know what guys that’s not right.’”
He said it is easier to laugh with everyone else.
Smalley said that more than reading, writing and arithmetic, it’s time we all learn respect for others, tolerance for differences and how to be the difference in somebody else’s life.
He shared the stories of several bullying victims who took their own lives, the youngest of them being only six years old.
Smalley said he knows of 55,000 children in the past seven years who have taken their own lives because of bullying.
He informed students that this number is higher than that of the soldiers lost in the Vietnam War. Smalley also told the students of the actions being taken to stop bullying.
Smalley said not only has he met Lady Gaga and Oprah who are supporting the cause of Stand for the Silent, he also met the president and first lady.
When a bill the group tried to get passed was killed by lawmakers, Smalley said the Stand for the Silent group began making a lot of noise and contacting the White House.
This led to a meeting with the first family and a meeting of minds which included the heads of companies such as the Cartoon Network, Facebook and MTV.
These people were invited by the president instead of lawmakers so that the issue could be resolved by people in touch with children, who according to Smalley, are the ones who can stop bullying not the adults.
Several students attending the presentation said they plan to sign a pledge to stop bullying. Students at the Kiamichi Technology Center have created a Stand for the Silent chapter in the area.
The chapter has planned several upcoming events to raise awareness about the fight against bullying.
Events include a poster contest for today’s event, entering a float in the Durant Christmas Parade, donating of over 240 new prom dresses to be distributed to those who need them, a movie day for KTC students showing anti-bullying movies and going to local elementary schools and reading books and doing presentations on anti-bullying.
For more information about Stand for the Silent and ways to help visit www.standforthesilent.org or visit the official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SFTSorg.