When his son was bullied, a Wisconsin dad decided to take action on Facebook.
Matthew Bent posted a photo of himself standing behind his son Shiloh in a show of support. He holds a handwritten sign that reads:
“I stand behind my son in the fight against bullying. Please ‘like’ and ‘share’ to send a message loud and clear that bullying needs to stop now. Tell school districts that protecting bullies by turning a blind eye is wrong. Shame on Kaukauna area schools for protecting a bully in their school.’’
Bent wrote on his post that a bully body-slammed Shiloh three times and stole a necklace that Bent had given to him as a gift for his first year of Little League. He added that a police officer told him that he couldn’t do anything since Shiloh had voluntarily entered the “lion’s den” where the bully was.
The post has gone viral, with over 460,000 likes and 470,000 shares.
“The Facebook page has been unbelievable," Bent told TODAY. "I’ve heard from people around the world. Some amazing stories on the good with people from all around the country — teachers in Florida, business people in Massachusetts to coaches in Oregon. Then you hear the heartbreaking stories, tens of thousands of emails that have poured in of it happening to their kids, (and) that it’s going on everywhere.”
Shiloh said that the post has lessened the bullying in River View Middle School, where he is in the sixth grade.
“It was a really hard thing for me to tell my dad because it was like on one side, is it really bullying?’’ Shiloh said. “I worry about that question and I worry, 'How is it going to end?' The first day, what really happened was I went to school, I got into class, and people said, ‘Hey why did your dad put that post up?’ And then some of the people that actually saw it started to explain it and now it’s all over my school.’’
Plus: How to Prevent Bullying
The police school liaison concluded that no crime had taken place. Mark Duerwaechter, the Kaukauna Superintendent, said that one teacher and eleven students were questioned about the event.
“We, as a school district, understand the deep frustration that the father, the mother and the son, as well as the community, are feeling about an incident like this, as well as perhaps others,’’ Duerwaechter told TODAY. “However, it is not fair to say that River View Middle School and the Kaukana-area school district are protecting bullies and ignoring the victims.”
Experts say that bullying can include verbal behavior like taunting, physical aggressiveness, and more insidious behavior like rumor spreading and social isolation. Parents can help take action by getting to the bottom of things and asking their kids direct questions, and problem-solving with their children about how to respond. If the bullying continues, parents should set up meetings with teachers to clue them in.
Has your child ever been bullied? Leave a comment.