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What parents don’t know about bullying could be hurting their children
bullying art

There are many consequences of being bullied, most of which leave a lasting impression on the person and family members. While it can lead to poor self-esteem and withdrawal from school and everyday activities, it may also lead to self-harm and suicide. What they don’t know about bullying could be hurting their children or, at the very least, not helping them get through it healthily.

“We all know that bullying exists but most of us are not sure how to identify it or what to do about it,” said Kirk Smalley, co-founder of Stand for the Silent. “We have to improve as a nation in preventing and addressing it so that our children don’t suffer.”

Smalley knows all too well the suffering that bullying can lead to. His 11-year-old son committed suicide due to bullying, which led him to start the organization to help raise awareness for other families. The facts surrounding suicide and our youth are eye-opening and something that everyone should be aware of.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is a severe public health challenge. It is the second leading cause of death in those ages 10-24, making up 15 percent of all suicides. From 2000 to 2021, there was a 52 percent increase in the number of suicides among this age group, and there is also a high rate of emergency department visits for self-harm.

Parents, teachers and others must know how to recognize bullying, what actions to take when they identify it, how to discuss it with their kids, and where to get additional support. Stand for the Silent offers the information parents need to help navigate the situation, including giving community talks and seminars and offering downloadable guides on their website.

Here are crucial signs that your child may be being bullied and what to do about it:

• Sudden changes in school attendance, avoiding recess, or being withdrawn;

• Complaints of headaches, stomach aches, or a loss of appetite before going to school and returning home;

• Difficulty concentrating, displaying signs of anxiety or depression, or talking about running away or suicide;

• A noticeable difference from other students or a learning disability;

• Lacking the ability to be self-assertive or has insufficient social skills and body language, reflecting low self-esteem.

• Injuries for which the child does not provide clear explanations of how they occurred.

If a child is being bullied, be prepared to take action. First, ensure the child is okay and remove them from the situation. Ensure they know they are supported and cared about and in a safe space. Next, get the facts about what happened and document them. Then, take action to report the bullying to the school and possibly authorities and monitor the response that is being taken. If not much is done, take it further up the chain of command until something is done to address the situation. Some families may also consider taking legal action, depending on the situation.

“We have to all come together to end this problem in our country,” said Smalley. “Parents, teachers, community members, and students should all be aware and work together to prevent and address it. We help people learn how to do that.”

Smalley and his wife, Laura, turned their pain and loss into a mission of helping others. He travels the country giving presentations about bullying to schools, providing bullying prevention, giving out scholarships, offering intervention strategies, and more. Those interested in getting involved can start a chapter of the group in their area, obtain a free K-2 bullying prevention curriculum  or cyberbullying handbook for parents, host a presentation at their school, intro of how all started video, and donate to help support the cause. To get more information, visit

About Stand for the Silent

Started in 2010, Stand for the Silent is an organization on a mission to help eliminate bullying nationwide. Kirk and Laura Smalley founded the group after their child took his own life due to bullying. They offer free resources for parents and educators and travel to schools to host presentations. They have been to over 6,025 schools and spoken with more than 4.15 million students. To get more information, visit the site at: