When my son Encore was severely bullied for having a rare condition called “Achondroplasia” a fancy word for dwarfism, my heart sunk. Encore is a very happy and positive child with lots of love and drive but when he began to come home every day with scratches and hungry, I knew something was immensely off. He made excuses saying he “lost his money or he bought lunch for a friend.” In addition to his evasiveness and excuses, he came home with missing skin on his chin and told me a child kept purposely stepping on the back of his shoe to make him fall because he was little.
Moreover, he told me“the children stared, pointed, laughed, called him a freak, ugly, monster and purposely held things above his head so he could not reach them.” That was the day I decided as a mom hearing his story was not enough but becoming proactive was something that was not only my duty for him but for all children who are bullied. After a few months of research and forming our non-profit “Tiny Be Mighty” to combat bulling, I stumbled upon mothers who lost children due to suicide as a result of bullying. Mothers who had children as early as 7 years old taking their own lives by hanging or shooting. I was flabbergasted and air was literally removed from my lungs as I read story after story. I was so moved, I began to reach out to them. The meetings were nothing shy of disheartening and devastating. To learn that they found their own children in their rooms completely dispirited me and made me question our schools as well as the protocol they had in place to protect our kids from this unmet epidemic and horror.
Hearing these stories invoked and inspired a flame for getting to the bottom of bullying and doing something about it. Through my research, I discovered that about 4,400 children take their lives each year and a half are related to bullying! I also learned that 160, 000 middle school children skip school every day in the USA because they are afraid to attend school and everything started making sense as to why my own son had stomach aches daily and missed school. This absolutely shook me being a behavioral and developmental therapist; I knew we had to team up and speak up! Encore and I began to speak all over the US at a variety of venues to educate and empower. Encore started speaking at 8 years old to peers in different schools about how hurtful and traumatizing it is to be bullied. We came up with a resolution! The resolution was not only to inform people of what they already know but to move them in the direction, to be commanders of their communication, and to provide a way to ensure safety and reporting. Hence, the birth of “Bullying Buddy” took place to save lives.