The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

September 11, 2013

‘I’m here to tell you what happened to Ty’

Father of bullied youth talks to Emerson students about the suicide death of his son

ENID, Okla. — Hands raised in formation of “I love you” in sign language were a frequent sight as Kirk Smalley spoke Wednesday afternoon to about 400 students at Emerson Middle School.

The Perkins father and founder of the organization “Stand For the Silent,” shared with the students the painful details of the last day in the life of his son, Ty. Wednesday was 1,227 days after Ty committed suicide in the Smalley home.

“I’m here to tell you what happened to Ty, in the hope that this doesn’t happen again to another family,” Smalley said.

The day started like any other day, with Ty going to school.

“On that particular day, Ty was sitting in the gym with his best friend,” Smalley said. “This kid that had been picking on him for over two years started picking on him again.”

Ty, who had finally had enough, retaliated. And, as it usually goes, Smalley said, it was Ty who was seen by the teacher and got sent to the office. He was suspended for four days.

Laura Smalley, who worked at Ty’s school, drove him home and told him to do his chores and they would talk about it when she got home. She drove back to work. It was when she came back home she discovered Ty had committed suicide. But Ty is far from the only kid who has taken his life after being bullied.

“I’ve got a list of over 55,000 children who have taken their own lives because of bullying — 55,000 families destroyed,” Smalley said. “The youngest one on it, he was only 6 years old.”

Listening to Smalley, some students cried. Some patted each other’s shoulders. Some hugged their neighbor. But mostly, they signed, “I love you.”

Smalley said every seven seconds, a child somewhere gets bullied. But they can change that.

“These days, more than reading, writing and arithmetic, I think it’s time we all learn respect for others,” Smalley said. “I’m not going to pretend to stand here and tell you that you’ve got to like everybody. But everybody has a right to be here.”

Smalley asked how many of them had been bullied. Nearly every hand went up. He asked how many were bullies. A smattering of hands went up.

“You can make this stop,” Smalley said. “Take a stand.”

Students recited the Stand For the Silent pledge at the end of Smalley’s presentation.

Smalley also appeared at Cimarron Public Schools Wednesday morning.

Theresa Sharp, family support navigator for Oklahoma Family Network, said his visit was made possible by donations from Enid AM AMBUCS, T&J Industrial and 101 Rodeo Foundation.

Edwin Fair Systems of Care Garfield County also collaborated in bringing Smalley to talk to the students.

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