OTHER OPINION: We can’t be bystanders with children

By Sun Herald, Biloxi/Gulfport

If only all parents were like Matthew Bent. When his son Shiloh told him he had been body-slammed five times, and his shoes and necklace were stolen at River View Middle School in Kaukauna, Wis., Matthew Bent did the right thing.
He told the authorities. And when the authorities did nothing, he didn’t back down. He stood behind his son. On Facebook.
In March, the parent and child were in a photograph on Facebook, the son holding a handwritten sign that read:
“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. … Shame on Kaukauna area schools for protecting a bully in their school.”
By Monday, nearly a half-million people had liked and shared and father and son were on the “Today Show.”
“It was a really hard thing for me to tell my dad because it was like on one side, is it really bullying?’’ Shiloh told the television audience.
Dwell on that first statement. “It was a really hard thing for me to tell my dad.”
We have to change that.
Some warning signs from stopbullying.gov:
• Unexplained injuries
• Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or jewelry
• Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
• Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
• Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
• Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
• Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
• Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
• Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves or talking about suicide.
We can’t be mere bystanders in children’s lives. If we are, the results can be devastating.

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