Bullying-Prevention Activist Uses Tragedy to Empower Kids

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 15, 2018 | Go to article overview

Bullying-Prevention Activist Uses Tragedy to Empower Kids


Byline: Marni Pyke mpyke@dailyherald.com

After two years of being bullied, Ty Field-Smalley faced his tormentor in the school gym.

"Ty finally had enough. He retaliated," father Kirk Smalley recalled Saturday to a sometimes tearful audience at the Hoffman Estates Police Department.

"It seems it's always the second guy that gets caught," Smalley said. Ty, 11, was suspended and brought home by his mother, who wanted to stay with the sixth-grader but had to return to work.

"He didn't do his homework. He didn't do his chores. Instead my boy killed himself on my bedroom floor," Smalley said.

The Oklahoma construction worker took that moment of devastation and turned it into a anti-bullying crusade. Since Ty's death in May 2010, Smalley and his wife Laura have stood before 1.3 million kids and had them repeat, "I am somebody, and I can make a difference."

Last week, Smalley brought his message to 3,500 middle-school students at Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54.

"Bullying is an issue and it's one we need to acknowledge as a community and as a society," District 54 Superintendent Andy DuRoss said.

About 28 percent of U.S. students in grades six through 12 experience bullying but, only one-third or less tell an adult about it, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website stopbullying.gov.

"Kids who are being bullied learn to hide it real well," Smalley said. …

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