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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • 'I need to do more' to prevent bullying

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  • Plainview students are looking to Stand for the Silent.
    Kirk Smalley's son Ty committed suicide after being suspended from school for retaliating against a bully who had been harassing with him for two years.
    Smalley, who is from the north central Oklahoma town of Perkins, spoke Tuesday at both the Plainview middle school and high school.
    "We're going to fight bullying forever, because our Ty is going to be 11 forever," he said.
    Middle school counselor Cynthia Hamilton had a friend who teaches at another school who recommend Smalley and his organization. It was a two-year process to book the speaker, and according to Hamilton, worth the wait.
    "He was incredible. Our kids, I think, got a lot out of it," she said.
    In 2010, an Oklahoma City Upward Bound group heard about Ty's story and created Stand for the Silent. The students spearheaded the effort by creating awareness videos and graphics. They also wrote a pledge for anyone to sign that emphasizes the anti-bullying message and the lesson that "I am somebody."
    Smalley travels the world sharing his story and introducing students to Stand for the Silent.
    The group uses the American Sign Language sign for "I love you" as its symbol, with ImL representing the sign in text messages and social media.
    Materials were left with educators to start their own chapter of Stand for the Silent.
    "Teachers have volunteered to head it up, and kids asked about it," Hamilton said. "The kids are pretty fired up and very receptive. They were so enthralled because the message was powerful."
    Freshman Hannah Keyser is excited about the idea of a Plainview chapter, and plans to make videos and write posts on Facebook to share her story with others.
    "It struck home, struck my heart," said Keyser. "I've been bullied. If everybody takes a stand, we can stop it."
    Instruction was also given for finding the group's website and Facebook pages, which students were anxious to go home and check out.
    "I used to think bullying was bad, but now I need to do more [to prevent it]," said sixth-grader Zachary McCann. "I thought it just happened occasionally, but it's every 7 seconds."
    McCann is 11 years old, the same age Ty was when he died.
    "If I were to see him (Smalley) again, I might give him a note about how I support him and am sorry about his son. If I'd known Ty, I'd probably be his friend," McCann explained. "I've only been bullied a little, so to think he's been bullied enough to commit suicide. I just feel sad for him."
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