By today’s standards, there’s a fair chance that many of the adults you know, myself included, suffered through some sort of bullying as children. Maybe you were too short, or too tall, had a crooked hairline, went to ‘the wrong’ church, or you wore clothes that the ‘cool kids’ deemed uncool. No matter the reason, getting pushed around or picked on during some period of childhood for something which was beyond our control is probably a place many of us have been. Drawing the line between the formative ‘lumps’ and the out and out harassment of a bully was not something our society was as good with then as we are now. Even still, vigilance in this area is needed. As a parent and a professional whose clientele is primarily comprised of children, be assured that my radar is always tuned to the possibility that a child is being picked on.
A few months ago, a local television station ran the story of Peyton James. Peyton was a local kid, an 8th grader, who after suffering the wrath of some of his bullying classmates for months on end, came home one October afternoon and committed suicide. For all you parents reading this, please be aware of the pit currently residing in your stomach, as there was certainly one in mine as I wrote that sentence. At the time of his death, Peyton was just 13 years old. Please take a few moments to read more about Peyton here.
In the two months since his passing, Peyton’s mother, who is a teacher at the school he attended, has shown incredible strength and drive to help other kids who may be suffering from bullying. An admirable feat considering that in her shoes, I doubt I’d even have the motivation to get out of bed every morning. Yet she has turned her anguish and pain into an amazing campaign, one which came to my attention recently through a friend, and one that I am proud to share with you.
In memory of her son, Peyton’s mom has started a “Kindness Matters” campaign. Her hope being to spread the word on the importance of caring for one another, and to help prevent having other kids go through the pain her son experienced.
As a profession that works primarily with children, specifically children who struggle in school for a myriad of reasons, my feeling is that this is something we should always be aware of both directly and indirectly. Many kids coming to your office, and mine alike, may have become easy targets for bullying thanks to their struggles. As trusted adults who they may be inclined to share with, it’s important that we always consider bullying as a possibility, and perhaps even take an hour during the next staff meeting to review the warning signs. You never know when a child may be ready to open up.
If you are interested in helping Peyton’s mom spread the word, please visit the Facebook Page she has created in Peyton’s memory. She is selling t-shirts and bracelets (as pictured above) to help spread her message that kindness really does matter.
During this week’s staff meeting, I’ll be sharing Peyton’s story and proposing we purchase a bracelet for all of our VT patients. It is my sincerest wish that you’ll consider doing the same.
Update – Two hours after this was posted, I received the following message from Peyton’s mom:
Robert – thank you so much for your beautifully written piece. I’m truly touched that you have taken your time to spread Peyton’s message and to help other children who might be in a situation similar to his. I also wanted to tell you that any proceeds from the sales goes toward establishing a memorial scholarship at Texas A&M University school of Veterinary Science, where Peyton hoped to attend. Again, thank you for your kind words.