I can't get this heartbreaking story by Carrie Goldman out of my head. An 11 year old boy, Michael Morones, attempted suicide because kids at school made fun of him for liking My Little Pony.
My son is bullied. He is teased for not being good at sports.
I've talked to his concerned teacher and she suggested he write down on a Post it note each time this kid, we will call him Sam, hits, punches or pushes him face down in the snow for example.
The problem is my boy won't do it. He worries that Sam will be meaner to him if he tells on him. He explains, "Sam says he will be my best friend if I don't tell."
"Why do you want to be best friends with Sam?" I respond. "He is not nice to you."
"Sometimes he is."
This is where bullying is so complex. Most kids that are getting bullied are scared to speak up.
I told my son about Michael. Although a serious story, I thought my intelligent eight year old could understand the severity in it.
His response. "I don't think Michael made a smart choice. He could have just stayed home from school instead of hurting himself."
I showed him Michael's picture and then dropped the subject.
My husband pointed out that my son's case is not as extreme as Michael's situation. I agree, but am confident Michael's parents thought the same thing.
To us adults it is simple, make new friends and don't hang out with toxic people. To kids being liked by peers they spend seven hours a day with is everything. I remember, I was bullied.
I will do whatever it takes to make sure my son doesn't suffer the same pain that me, Michael, Katie, and many, many, too many other kids have.
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Check out my 2014 photo project How Quickly They Change.