On Tuesday I attended the “Stand for the Silent” anti-bullying vigil at the state Capitol. I was doing so as part journalist/part father.
I’ve covered this story for more than four months, since I first wrote about the May 13 death of 11-year-old Ty Field. Ty reportedly committed suicide after being bullied at his school in Perkins.
So even though I had no plans to write about the event, I felt a strong enough connection to want to attend and see what was going to happen. I figured I could shot some video and probably blog about the event later.
When I told my wife about my plans to attend, she was quick to want to go and take our 10-year-old daughter. I don’t usually take my family along when I’m doing work. In this case, I felt it was OK to make an exception. My wife truly wanted to show her support for the anti-bullying effort and thought it could be a learning experience for our daughter. I couldn’t argue.
When we arrived I was happy to see about 500 people at the vigil. It’s been amazing to see how this group of high school students have grown this “Stand for the Silent” movement. For anybody that questions the youth of today, they should take a hard look at the passion this group has shown in fighting for this cause.
Similar anti-bullying vigils were conducted Tuesday in at least 21 states and six foreign countries after students involved in the program promoted it over Facebook, organizers said. The idea of “Stand for the Silent” was formed earlier this summer during an Upward Bound summer session at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, a college preparation program for first-generation college-bound students. The 60 students in the program were inspired after hearing of Ty’s story.
At the vigil, Ty’s dad, Kirk Smalley said he was going to take a step back and work on healing along with his wife, Laura. Mr. Smalley said he always considered himself a private person and wants to retreat somewhat and take some time to be with family. Mr. Smalley said he is confident that the Upward Bound students have a good handle on spreading the word. Mr. Smalley’s courage in fighting for reform in schools and spreading the anti-bullying word is certainly amazing. He and his family have certainly earned a break.
And to judge by the turnout on Tuesday and the students who have helped grow “Stand for the Silent,” I certainly think the movement Mr. Smalley has spurred forward by telling the heart-wrenching story of Ty’s death is left in good hands.