Kirk Smalley says, “I will fight bullying forever because my son will be 11 forever.”
Three years ago 11-year-old Ty Smalley took his own life. Ty had been a victim of bullying, and after over two years of torment Ty retaliated against his bully, got caught, and was suspended for three days. His father Kirk Smalley told CNN,
They called his mama. She went and picked him up, took him home … She told Ty to do his homework, told him to do his chores, told him we’d talk about it when we got home that evening. When Laura came home … she found out that Ty didn’t do his homework. Our boy didn’t do his chores. Instead, he killed himself on our bedroom floor … One month and seven days after Ty killed himself, it was on Father’s Day. I couldn’t sleep … and that day just loomed and loomed on the horizon and when it finally came, I knew I had to do something. So I made a promise to Ty on that day that I was going to stop bullying in this world for him and for all the other kids that are suffering from it. I don’t break promises.
Kirk and his wife Laura, along with a group of students from their local high school created the anti-bullying organization called Stand for the Silent whose main purpose is to “inspire students to be the change they want in their schools.” The Smalley’s life has become a mission to stop bullying, and youth suicide. Kirk now spends his days telling his son’s story at schools around the world. He has told Ty’s story at more than 500 hundred schools and has talked to hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, and school administrators since Ty’s suicide nearly three years ago. He said,
We do it because we don’t want another family to live our nightmare. Laura doesn’t ever want another mama to find her baby the way she found ours. We don’t want another kid to ever feel the way Ty felt, that that was the only option. We’re not doing it for Ty. We’re doing it for all the other kids out there. The main part of our message is not to stand silent and watch it happen and that’s addressing the bystanders. If we can empower those kids to be willing to stand up and say ‘you know what – this isn’t right. It’s not funny,’ then we’ll greatly outnumber the bullies. One kid, one voice can make a difference.
Kirk was featured in the 2012 documentary “Bully,” and thanks to the attention that film generated Anderson Cooper 360, in a partnership with Cartoon Network spent a year filming “The Bully Effect,” which also features the Smalley’s story. “The Bully Effect” premieres on CNN on February, 28, at 10 p.m. EST.