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Monday, Mar. 2nd 2015

Why It’s Important To Fight Against Bullying

On that frigid winter morning on February 19th, a young man entered that lunchroom to complete a routine that is his norm. Gently placing his books on a chair to secure his place, he trotted towards the counter to obtain his breakfast. This seemingly IMG_3158innocent act should have been just that. A young man securing his place before going off to secure his food before returning to savor it. Unfortunately, other students had other ideas.

Upon his return to his place he was confronted with a conundrum. His books displaced, his seat filled by another he uttered words asking the student to get up. He was given a resounding refusal to which he asked the student again. At that point, in stepped his brother’s tormentor, and now his; intervening. Blake defended himself standing firm to the alleged bully, “It’s none of your business.” He said. The alleged bully asked Blake to repeat his response, to which he did. There began a series of actions which would change the trajectory of either lives. Smashing his head into the desk and body slamming him -breaking his jaw in the process, secreting Cerebrospinal fluid out of his ear. Unconscious and bleeding, Blake lay. 

Out rage producing actions, the reaction came at that time, and it was swift. An arrest for the tormentor who is subsequently facing charges of assault for his actions and the beating he inflected on his victim; a foot shorter and over 120lbs less his weight. In a school district which, has a “bullying free zone” notion, it’s safe to say that people were/are outraged by what happened in the Liberty School District that gelid day.  

I am a great believer in “things happen for a reason.” We must learn from this and make this a learning situation. Exploring a two-strike rule or even passing a bill, I believe will go a long way. Consequences need to be more severe and consistent across the board, for those caught bullying. I am old school myself, but in light of the current zeitgeist, if one is caught bullying pending a full investigation, there should be a suspension for at least a week, or negating of responsibilities if the bully is linked to athletic teams or any type of activity, etc. If one is caught bullying again, straight explosion from school, work place, etc. If a bill is passed, that opens the door to stiffer consequences. Only then will children and adults alike think this more a serious issue if there are harsher consequences.

Have there be an “anonymous” tip station that is checked daily; email, text number, etc to encourage bystanders to speak up should they witness bullying, which can then be investigated. If schools have already adopted reporting systems and there are continued breakdowns serious questions should be asked about the utilization and efficiency of the systems. Finding where the breakdown is, making reporting safer and conducive to students lifestyles in fitting in with the zeitgeist can only be positive strides towards conquering this epidemic. 

60% of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying. Chances are, if you haven’t been affected by bullying, you know somebody either a loved one or friend who has. In 2013 over 41k deaths were reported as people who committed suicide. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. 

There are many charities currently working to raise awareness about this epidemic. We partner with Stand for the Silent (SFTS), an anti-bully organization originating in Oklahoma. Their founding was born out of a personal tragedy, when Ty Smalley took his own life to escape the scrutinizing advancements of a bully. He in fact reacted after years of relentless bullying deciding to take a stand, and unfortunately ended up being punished by his school for standing up for himself. He saw suicide as his only way to end his pain.

His parents Kirk and Laura Smalley have since dedicated their lives to traveling around America and the world speaking out against bullying and bringing awareness to their audiences about the devastation that it causes.

The world is harsh enough as it is. For the longevity of humanity it is important to fight against bullying and it’s effects. It’s important to educate, because education brings rise to wisdom, and wisdom puts out the fire of ignorance. Maybe, just maybe the world can become wise to ignorance, the importance of validating human beings, so that the need to feel worth through someone else’s demise; can actually become a demise.

Freedom Shoe is committed to this mission, to validate and empower. To inspire positivity and create a wave of positive vibes. As part of our faith in this mission we donate 7% of our sales to SFTS; and we provide a donate button so that donations can be made to this magnificent cause without having to purchase any of our items. Social responsibility is important. We are all human beings, all God’s children. Let us treat each other that way.

-Pamela Williams



Kansas City, MO

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