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Break the silence, break the bully

Standing up for our children

Dee Dee’s friend informed her parents, who in turn took a video of the next incoming message. Her father then played that Snapchat as part of an emotional YouTube video that called out not only his daughter’s bullies but also their ignorant father.

Knudson and his wife—both Caucasian—adopted Dee Dee when she was just three years old, and had been on the receiving end of racism for years when out in public with their daughter.

This time, though, the racism was not aimed at her parents. It came directly to Dee Dee, on her phone, in her home.

Her father decided to take action.

According to Knudson, several attempts to make contact with the offenders were unsuccessful, and he even approached the police before finally being provided with the cell phone number of the twins’ father, Deron Puro.

Puro did not deny the bullying his twins had done, nor did he apologize for their behaviour.

Instead, he stood behind them and claimed that there was nothing wrong with their remarks, that this was just what kids do, and that his family makes jokes using those racial slurs in their home on a regular basis.

He then proceeded to call Knudson a “n— lover” and a “fag.”

It is no wonder the twins found no fault in their actions, if this is the role model they have grown up with.

Two days after Knudson posted his video—in which he played the offending voicemails left by Puro and called him out by name—the twins’ father was fired from his job, and the company has publically declared on their website that “Deron Puro is no longer associated with Roy E. Abbott Futures, Inc. as of today January 21.”

Prior Lake High School has also announced that it will be doing a thorough search into the conduct of the twins, to determine whether this was an isolated incident or if they engage in such behaviour on a regular basis.

Knudson brought his daughter’s bullying into the public eye and his video, which has now received 7.5 million views, and succeeded not only in raising awareness of bullying, but also in bringing justice to these racist persecutors.

Let’s hear it for good fathers and social media.

Similarly, when 18-year-old Kristen Layne, of Tennessee, posted a photo of herself online wearing an extravagant prom dress, she received hateful messages calling her fat and ugly. Her entire community took up arms against her persecutors and muzzled the ignorant comments.

If all parents and communities of bullied children—schools and other institutions included—stood up against offenders in a similar manner, the world may become a safer place for children to thrive.

It is the silence that perpetuates bullying behaviour.

Parents must be as courageous as Knudson, willing to put themselves out in public to defend their children, to bring bullying to an end.

Some would argue that this might make matters worse for the children being bullied, that putting the actions of the oppressors in the spotlight may incense them enough to escalate the persecution.

On the other hand, placing their behaviour on centre stage of social media may curb it – after all, the world is now their audience, and their every move will be scrutinized.

And if children are encouraged to speak out against their tormentors, they may be less inclined to suffer the effects of bullying alone.

The number of young people who take their own lives because of bullying could drop, because in most cases those anguished children are the ones who never spoke up about their plight, never admitted to anyone the suffering they endured every day.

It comes down to listening to the silence of our children and recognizing the agony of victimization.

Suppression will never stop bullying, will never help a child haunted by terror and intimidation.

Consider the old adage, “If a tree falls in the forest…”

So, then, if a child breaks in a school and no one is willing to listen, will it make a sound?

Where canada stands with bullying and youth suicide:

  • 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently
  • Adults who were bullied as children are more likely to suffer from depression in adulthood
  • 51% of all teens have had negative experience with social networking
  • 1 in 5 Canadian teens have witnessed online bullying
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24
  • 2 in 5 parents report that their child has been involved in a cyberbullying incident
  • Any participation in bullying increases risk of suicidal ideas in youth
  • The most common form of cyber-bullying involves receiving threatening or aggressive e-mails or instant messages
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