On the Horizon: Bully Pulpit

Over my career I have interviewed presidents, celebrities, and some of our world’s greatest thinkers. But I can tell you, none of those interviews were any more powerful than the one I had this week with Kirk Smalley.

Mr. Smalley is the father of Ty Smalley, the 11-year-old Perkins, Oklahoma boy who committed suicide in response to repeated bullyings at school. One can only imagine how devastating such a tragedy could be, but rather than retreat into the pain and remorse of his son’s death Kirk Smalley started an anti-bullying effort that is growing worldwide.

I can’t imagine a more effective spokesperson on bullying…because he is what he is… a good ole’ country boy from rural Oklahoma, who had his life turned upside down. His story is a tough one to watch, but one I believe every child, parent, grandparent, and teacher should.

~Rob McClendon

(Part 1 of 2)

(Part 2 of 2)

Editor’s note:  I appreciate Oklahoma Horizon TV and their focus on bullying this week.  I was a victim of senseless bullying as a high school student in the 80s.  It started with me simply being the target of small pranks, but worked up to shoving me against lockers and verbal threats in the halls within close proximity to teachers and administrators who, from my perspective, chose to look the other way. Several times I would be driving to school only to have my car cut off by the bully and her friend group pulling out of a side road in front of my car, slowing down then flipping me off and screaming threats from their car. There were some days, just when I thought I was to school safely, they would pull out from behind a building and ride my bumper.  My car? A 1963 MGB.  Her car? A full sized sedan, always filled with three of her friends.

The one time I tried to report the issues to a high school counselor/advisor, she asked what I had been doing to become the target.  To this day, I still don’t know why the bullying started but as an adult, I know how to handle it now.  But I AM an adult now. At the time, if it weren’t for my best friend stepping in at one point – basically throwing down the gauntlet to say, “put up or shut up,” I’m not sure how the process would have ended. 

Bullying is never okay.  And if you ever find yourself in a situation where someone has reported it to you, I hope you listen. Thanks,