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Friday, May 10, 2013 11:00 AM
Kirk Smalley speaks to the students of Southwestern Middle School on Thursday about the dangers of bullying. Smalley’s 11-year-old son, Ty Field-Smalley, committed suicide after being bullied in school. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchiefirstname.lastname@example.org)
There wasn't a dry eye in the Southwestern High School gymnasium Thursday morning as students listened to a father tell the story of his son who took his own life after being bullied.
Kirk Smalley talked about his son, Ty Field-Smalley, who was 11 years old when he committed suicide.
Kirk Smalley said his son committed suicide after being repeatedly bullied for two years. Since then, Smalley and his wife, Laura Field-Smalley, have made it their mission to fight bullying.
"I made a promise to my kid, and I don't break promises to my kid. But I can't keep that promise by myself. I can't do it alone," Smalley told the students.
The Smalleys were featured in the 2011 documentary "Bully" which follows the lives of five students who faced bullying on a daily basis.
Southwestern, Madison Junior High School and Shawe Manorial High School all received copies of "Bully" from the Prevent Child Abuse of Jefferson County Council in April, along with a packet on how to prevent bullying.
After showing the documentary to students, Southwestern reached out to Smalley, to bring his message to the school.
His presentation had many students crying, hugging and offering up the American Sign Language sign for "I love you," by the end.
"It also means "I've got your back," Smalley said.
Eighth-grader Morgan England said the things she heard in the presentation were moving and "very upsetting."
"I was balling," Morgan said.
Morgan, who said she's both bullied and been bullied in the past, moved to Southwestern this year, and made many friends.
She said she was inspired by the presentation and she wants to join his organization, Stand Up for the Silent.
Stand Up for the Silent was started in 2010 after a group of students from Oklahoma State University heard Ty's story.
The group offers a platform for the Smalleys to educate others about the effects of bullying.
Since the group began, Smalley said most of the schools he travels to start their own chapter of Stand Up for the Silent.
Smalley said the group isn't about making everybody like one another, it's about making sure we all respect and love one another.
"Every single one of us has the right to be who we are," Smalley said. "It's time we all learn respect for others."
PHOTOS: STANDING UP - Speaker encourages teens to stop bullying
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