What would you do if your child was bullied to the point where they decided life wasn't worth living…and so they committed suicide? In an instant, all of your hopes and dreams for your child would be gone. Could you have done something? What would you do now?

That's what happened to Kirk and Laura Smalley, who lost their son, Richard Ty Field-Smalley, in 2010 following a bullying episode. After that, Kirk and Laura worked tirelessly to prevent other families from suffering the same pain and loss.

They traveled all across the United States and visited several other countries spreading the message of love and support to children who need it, even meeting with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to talk about what can be done to ensure our children grow up safe and whole.

In 2020,after suffering a brain aneurysm, Laura was reunited with her beloved son. Kirk knows they are still with him, giving him the strength he needs to continue his mission: to give our children a safe future where each one can grow into the amazing individuals they are meant to be.

Kirk is our guest on both the Lean to the Left and Justice Counts podcasts, co-hosted by Bob Gatty and legal thriller author Mark M. Bello, who has just published a new children's book, "Happy Jack, Sad Jack--a Bullying Story."

Smalley explains that while most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet.

Bullying prevention in schools is a full-time exercise, he says, adding that for true change to take place, the culture of a school must be transformed. With a year-round bullying prevention program, clear expectations of faculty and staff and established guidelines for how to treat incidents, students and adults can be a part of a culture of caring.

Ten strategies to prevent bullying in schools:
  1. Establish school-wide policies and classroom procedures pertaining to bullying that are distributed to students, parents, and teachers.
  2. Depict on bulletin boards and in hallways that school and classrooms are bully-free zones, and that students treat each other with respect.
  3. Develop strategies to recognize and reward positive social behavior.
  4. Speak with ALL involved in a bullying situation separately and in private.
  5. Develop separate intervention plans for children who are bullied, children who participate as bystanders, and children who bully others.
  6. Be mindful of class seating arrangements to promote positive role models and limit access.
  7. Hold periodic class meetings and assemblies to remind children of bullying prevention.
  8. Contact parents of all students involved in a bullying incident; meet separately with parents of each student to provide information about bullying; explain school’s bullying protocol; and address the specifics of the situation. Do not identify names of other students.
  9. Establish procedures for documenting episodes of bullying and intervention.
  10. Assign all students classroom allies/buddies and periodically re-arrange the assignments.
Keeping kids safe online It’s important for parents to be informed about their kids’ digital lives, especially when it comes to issues that involve their safety. These simple tips can help make sure their online experience is a positive one.
  1. Use your router or internet service provider’s security app to configure child-safe internet filtering. This works just like the filtering system on library and public school computers and lets you control which websites your child can access.
  2. Blocking websites and keywords is the easiest way to ensure your child only has access to trusted internet content. You can block websites and keywords through your...

Show Notes

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Show Transcript

A Father's Mission: End the Bullying that Killed His Son

[00:00:00] Bob Gatty: Kirk and Laura Smalley lost their son, Richard Ty Field- Smalley in 2010 in the aftermath of a bullying episode. Since then, Kirk and Laura worked tirelessly to prevent other families from suffering the same pain and loss.

[00:00:17] They've traveled all across the United States and visited several other countries spreading the message of love and support to children who needed, even meeting with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, to talk about what can be done to ensure our children grow up safe and whole. In 2020, Laura Smalley's journey ended after suffering a brain aneurysm.

[00:00:44] She finished her fight and has been reunited with her beloved son. Kirk knows they are still with him, giving him the strength he needs to continue on with his mission. That mission is simple. To give our children a safe future where each one can grow into the amazing individuals they are meant to be.

[00:01:07] Kirk Smiley, welcome. 

[00:01:08] Kirk Smalley: Thank you, Bob. I appreciate you having me on. 

[00:01:11] Mark M. Bello: Kirk this is Mark. We welcome first of all, our sympathies for the loss of your son, which is extremely preventable, and the loss of your wife. Bad things happened to lots of people, but not everyone can advocate for a cause following such a tragedy.

[00:01:33] Not everyone can take a negative, like the senseless death of a child and turn it into a cause for good. Bob and I applaud you, sir. I presume you didn't have a background in public speaking or advocacy. What made you different than other parents who've experienced tragedy? Why did you decide to start Stand for the Silent?

[00:01:56] Kirk Smalley: Mark, after Laura and I lost Ty and we did a little research and we found out how prevalent suicide because of being bullied was in our society now. Most people don't realize the impact that bullying has on kids and, the amount of children that we're losing on a daily basis to suicide because of bullying.

[00:02:25] I actually have a list of over 66,000 children that we've lost in the United States in the last seven years, which if you do a little math, that comes out to almost 23 a day, almost a child an hour just to suicide due to bullying. And we just decided that we couldn't live in a world like that.

[00:02:46] We didn't want another mom, another dad to feel the pain and live the nightmare that we lived every single day without our baby, without doing everything that we could to make it stop.

[00:02:58] Bob Gatty: It's just hard to imagine what you guys went through. And I join Mark in applauding you for the work that you're doing. Can you explain to us a little bit about what some of the aspects of bullying are, especially when it comes to bullying in schools? 

[00:03:16] Kirk Smalley: Sure. There is a actual definition of bullying. It's an aggressive and repeated behavior among school-aged children that usually involves a real or a perceived imbalance of power. The victims of bullying and the bullies themselves can, and a lot of them do have very lasting problems later on in life.

[00:03:44] A bully may use his imbalance of power, such as physical strength bigger, stronger, faster. Social status. My parents are richer. They may have access to embarrassing information things like pictures that they've taken in a locker room or in a, classroom or bathroom.

[00:04:09] But again, bullying is a repetitive behavior. It's, something that, that is repeated over a period of time. 

[00:04:16] Mark M. Bello: Doesn't have to be physical, right? It, can be hurtful words, it can be teasing. It can be excluding someone from a group, embarrassing a kid, as you indicated with pictures in front of a, in front of his or her peers.

[00:04:33] This can be direct or indirect in person or electronic. Cyber bullying is a big thing these days, right? 

[00:04:40] Kirk Smalley: Yes, sir. Cyber bullying has actually increased over 75% since the the pandemic began. It's grown to the extent that we actually launched a new website. It is still Stand for the Silent, our organization, but we have a standalone website for it.

[00:04:58] It's called social bullets.org. And on there we actually did a campaign with a large ad agency called Area 23, and they created an algorithm that tracked cyber bullying over all the social media websites for a 24 hour period. And every time. Every 238 times a child was cyber bullied. One of them tried to take their own life and they created four different posters depicting four different types of cyberbullying.

[00:05:33] And every time that number over that 24 hour period hit that 238 number, they fired a live bullet at one of those posters at a A closed shooting range. And they had a group of high school kids and their parents watching this experiment and they caught their reactions and they interviewed with them.

[00:05:52] And that video is available on that website. There is also a downloadable guide for parents on how to combat cyber bullying. They can download it for free. And we are currently working on a peer-to-peer guide because we've learned that kids learn from kids quicker than they learn from adults. And we hope to have that peer-to-peer guide that we're doing in the process of doing interviews with a bunch of teens right now that have been cyber bullied and have been cyber bullies.

[00:06:22] And we're finding out how they came out on the other side of it and what steps they took, how they dealt with it and, we hope to have that peer-to-peer guide up on that website shortly. 

[00:06:34] Mark M. Bello: Cyber bullied and cyber bullies ... do both groups feel similar impacts? You follow me? Is there like a guilt syndrome on the cyberbullying side as opposed to a helplessness feeling on the cyber bullied side. What is the effect to a cyber bully long term? 

[00:06:58] Kirk Smalley: I, really, I don't know how to answer that. That the reason that, that a lot of kids cyberbully is because it's so easy .They can remain anonymous.

[00:07:10] Our kids are so good with technology now, Mark, I've been to schools and spoken and done presentations where first graders have smartphones and they're good on 'em. They know how to use them and Kids can take a picture of somebody in the locker room or in the bathroom or in the hallway.

[00:07:29] They can use Photoshop and make it look like that kid's doing whatever they want them to be doing. They can create a fake Facebook account. They can post that picture online and ruin someone's life with the click of a button. Even if they get to feeling bad about that and think maybe I shouldn't have done that.

[00:07:48] I'll remove that post. I'll take that picture down. It's not gone. It's out there forever. Someone's seen it, someone shared it, someone saved it. It stays out in cyber land forever. 

[00:08:01] Bob Gatty: Where and when do most bullying occurrences take place? 

[00:08:08] Kirk Smalley: Bullying happens literally everywhere. It happens during school hours, it happens after school. It happens on playgrounds, in the hallways, in the classrooms, in the buses. It happens obviously online. And sadly, Bob it, happens in our homes. I think that's where most of these kids learn that type of behavior. Bullying is a learned thing. We are not born to hate. Hatred is something that we learn and we learn it from the people that we're around most often.

[00:08:44] I've, done several dozens of presentations for the Native American culture. I'm based out of Oklahoma and we have a lot of native American reservations. I've been to Washington State and spoken several times at, reservations up there even. And. I have learned one thing about the Native American culture and bullying. We have what's called a generational bullying where grandma and grandpa bullied this certain family and mom and dad bullied that same family, and then they've taught their kids that they bully that same family. And if we can break that cycle for one generation one, one child, you think of how many different lives we can affect down through the course of history with that.

[00:09:31] Bob Gatty: That's amazing. 

[00:09:33] Mark M. Bello: Stand for the silent. First of all where, did the name come from? And if I'm understanding it correctly, it's a, it is a bullying awareness site and a bullying prevention site. On the site, you asked this question, what is the number one strategy teachers can use to eradicate bullying in their classroom?

[00:09:55] But before you, before we get to that, is there a number one strategy? If so, would you share it and perhaps other strategies that might be effective for teachers and for parents? 

[00:10:08] Kirk Smalley: Sure. To answer your first question, where did the name Stand for the Silent came from? Stand For The Silent was actually started by a group of high school kids from Oklahoma City when they heard about what happened to our son, Ty, and they decided that they didn't wanna live in a world like that anymore without them, them doing whatever they could to, keep it from happening to another child.

[00:10:30] And so they, created a Facebook page called Stanford, the Silent and. We heard about what they were doing, and we reached out to their director and we went and had a discussion with these kids. There were 68 of 'em, and over the course of that discussion, we decided that we didn't have just their hallways and their schools to make changes in that, that we had to change the, entire world.

[00:10:57] And so we worked with them. They donated their graphics, their Facebook page, a constitution that they had written up, a pledge that they had written, all of that stuff to Laura and I, and we incorporated and we became a nonprofit and we started visiting schools. 

[00:11:18] Mark M. Bello: How, old were these kids?

[00:11:19] Kirk Smalley: They were high school kids. Good. Okay. Yes, sir. Go ahead. In answer to your second question, the number one strategy that, that we ask about, the best thing that schools and teachers can do is keep this in front of kids on a daily basis. It's something it's like herding cats, literally.

[00:11:38] It's something that kids have to have in front of 'em every single day. There are 10 different. Items on our website that schools can do to help curb bullying and prevent bullying in their school and in their hallways. And the first one would be to establish school-wide policies and classroom procedures pertaining to bullying that are not only given to the teachers, but also to students and parents.

[00:12:08] That bullying policy should be in every student handbook in every school in our nation. Step two would be to help keep it in front of the kids would be posters in the hallways. In the lunchrooms, in the gymnasiums. We have pledge posters available on our website that, that speak about respecting yourself and respecting others.

[00:12:29] We have pledge cards that we will give to every school that asks for 'em any, quantity they want that the kids sign and they date and, they keep 'em to remind 'em of the promise that they're making. Step three would be to develop strategies to recognize and reward positive social behavior.

[00:12:48] When a kid stands up for another child that kid ought to be, recognized for that. That takes a lot of courage. It takes a lot of guts for a kid to stand up and say, Hey, leave him alone. If there are more bystanders than there are bullies and there are more bystanders there than there are victims of bullying.

[00:13:09] And if we can get one of those bystanders to stand up and say, Hey, stop. It's a proven fact that 96% of the time bullying stops within 10 seconds if someone will speak up against it, that doesn't mean that the same child's not gonna be bullied again tomorrow by the same individual, but it stops now within 10 seconds, 96% of the time, if we can get a bystander to speak up .The, fourth step would be to have a discussion with all of the people involved in that bullying situation. And you do that separately, talk with the bully and then talk with the victim, and then you do it together.

[00:13:51] And then bring in the parents of each and have that discussion. It's important. A lot of parents don't realize that their child is being that way that, they're being a bully. All of us want to believe that our child's an angel. Oh, Timmy would never do such a thing. He's an angel. But Timmy just told Sally on Facebook that she's worthless and that she ought to go kill herself. And when their parents see that with their own eyes, there's. Can't help but get involved. One of the things that we, one of the resources that we leave at every school and every community that we go to are resources for parents to help combat cyber bullying on social media.

[00:14:37] If your child is on social media, you should be on their friend's list. If your kid's on Facebook, you better be on Facebook and be their friend on Facebook because you need to know what's going on on social media with your kids nowadays. Some of the resources that we leave, we, there's an app called Bark and they have it for families and they also have it for schools.

[00:15:00] And if you'll look, it's free forever for schools K through 12, and what they do is they monitor your child's social media presence and they send a message to mom and dad if your kid's being bullied on Facebook or, Instagram or something like that. Not only do they do that, they also send a message to mom and dad if your kid's being a bully.

[00:15:24] That's a great way to help protect your kids online. There's several others. There's one called Teen Safe. There's one called My Social Sitter. Bark covers more of the the social media platforms. So all of those are ways that schools and kids can, or parents can get involved to help protect their kids from bullying.

[00:15:46] Step five would be to develop different individual intervention plans for children who are, bullied, and children who participate as bystanders. Bullying doesn't occur if the bully doesn't have an audience. They have to have somebody to play to. They have to have somebody to see that I'm bigger, I'm stronger, I'm faster, I'm, smarter, whatever. Those intervention plans may need to include steps to address circumstances where a child has been bullied, also bullies others. Because I, have what I call my kick the dog theory, Mark. I'm bullied at work by my boss and I go home and I take it out on the wife and the kid walks outside and he kicks the dog because that's the only one lower than him on that food chain that he has to pass that pain down. So a lot of kids that are being bullied turn into bullies because they think that's the way that they can get rid of their pain by, passing it to someone else. But you know what, it doesn't work that way. It doesn't make you feel better about yourself.

[00:16:58] Step six would be mindful, be aware of class seating arrangements. Don't sit a kid that's being bullied by another child, side by side or, where they can have access to each other. That's, a really bad move. Whole periodic class meetings and presentations to discuss positive role models, not bullying that kind of thing. Contact parents you gotta let the parents know once again that your, child is performing unacceptable behavior. A lot of times parents don't know what's going on and, they can't help if they can't tell. Now granted, some parents don't care. Some parents are bullies, and that's where these kids can learn that behavior, but they still can't fix it if they don't know that there's a problem. And then documenting, bullying, that, that's very, important. There should be a running record of every time a child is reported to be bullied, not only in the victim of bullying's student profile, but in the bullies paperwork.

[00:18:12] They, there should always be documentation. That was one of the things that really hurt. Laura and I .Laura worked at the school that Ty went to, and Ty was being bullied for almost two years by this group of kids, mainly one ringleader. He was bullied because he was the smallest kid in his class.

[00:18:36] He was in sixth grade and he was about the size of a fourth grader, and they picked on him relentlessly over that. And being an employee of the school, Laura was in the office almost every day reporting that Hey, you need to have this kid leave Ty alone. He's being picked on again. He got chocolate milk dumped on him in the lunchroom.

[00:18:57] They stole his backpack. They, pushed him on the playground. They all of this. After Todd took his own life we requested all of his. Items, I guess you could say. We wanted everything that had to do with our son from that school, anything that was out of his locker, we didn't care if it was what they considered trash, a piece of paper that was scribbled on.

[00:19:25] We, we wanted anything to do with our boy. It was what was left up. And we wanted all of his school records as well. And in his school records, there was not one single piece of documentation that showed that Laura had ever one time gone into the school office and spoken to him about him being bullied.

[00:19:50] Not one single item of documentation that she had ever complained, and she was in there almost daily for two years. And so documenting that is very, important. And if the school doesn't do it, parents should write and keep a journal. I went to the office. This is who I spoke to. This is the time I spoke to them.

[00:20:12] I called, this is the time of the phone call. This is the date of the phone call. This is what they told me. Document everything. The last step would be possibly assign students classroom buddies and, periodically change those buddies so that everybody has a chance to get, to know each and every one of, their classmates . A lot of schools, especially elementary schools, have what they call buddy benches out on their playgrounds. And, from what I've seen, those are working wonderful. And what a buddy bench is, they have a certain little bench out on the playground.

[00:20:52] And if a child doesn't have someone to play with, maybe he's a new kid in school and he doesn't know anyone, doesn't have any friends yet, they can go and sit on that bench. And when someone sees that there's someone sitting on that bench, their mission is to go over and say, Hey, come play with us.

[00:21:12] Come, join our team. That type of thing. And things like that seem to work really, good, especially in the lower grade levels. 

[00:21:21] Mark M. Bello: Hey, Kirk I, know Bob is chomping at the bit to ask you a question, but I'm curious, you just mentioned 10 different strategies. You've traveled all over the country, perhaps in, in different parts of the world.

[00:21:36] What percentage of schools have implemented these 10 steps or, anything close to these 10 steps? 

[00:21:44] Kirk Smalley: I see a lot of schools that start implementing them after I have been there. And I, sit down and I speak with either the principal or the school counselor, whoever invites me to the school.

[00:21:55] We will literally go to any school that invites us without charge. I have been literally all over the world. We've done presentations in Australia, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico. We have chapters in 18 different countries in 40 states now. I have done 6,022 in-person presentations and countless Zoom presentations for schools that I don't even keep track of anymore.

[00:22:23] I have talked to a little over 4 million kids. We get these schools to get involved, we ask if they start a chapter of Stand for the Silent to help keep our message alive. We put them in touch with our national chapter liaisons when they do start their chapter, who send them resources.

[00:22:40] We don't want to be a one and done organization. We want to help 'em continue this messaging and not only keep it in their hallways and change the culture and the feelings in their hallways, but spread it out into their communities. It's very important that adults realize that kids are watching every move they make, and that's where they're learning this.

[00:23:03] Bob Gatty: Do you have help with all of this, Kirk? 

[00:23:05] Kirk Smalley: I actually do now, Bob. When, we first started out, I I was pretty much doing it on my own, me and Laura by ourselves, and we, struggled mightly for, a long time, seven, eight years.

[00:23:22] Most of this was funded out of our own pockets. We actually closed our savings and our retirement accounts to continue saving babies. I get messages from literally thousands of kids that say, you saved my life. I was gonna kill myself until I heard what you had to say. One outta four of our children in America right now have a plan on how they would take their own life before they graduate from high school.

[00:23:47] 25% of our kids in our country would have a plan on how they would take their own life. I can't live in a world like that. 

[00:23:57] Bob Gatty: Has this been getting worse in recent years? ? 

[00:24:00] Kirk Smalley: It, really truly has like I say, cyber bullying's increased 75% since the pandemic. We are making great strides and great inroads in physical and in-person bullying. It's, a battle to stop cyber bullying.

[00:24:17] It's, so difficult. There are so many different ways that kids can harm each other online and getting them to realize the, the implications, the ramifications that cyber bullying can cause. They think, oh, I was just kidding. I was just joking. But you know what? Bullying is in the eye of the victim.

[00:24:38] We gotta take that power away from the bully. If the bully says, I was just kidding. I was just joking. But the kid that he bullied took it serious. Then that child was bullied and you are a bully. 

[00:24:53] Bob Gatty: We know that adults bully adults, right? We know that politicians bully other politicians and they bully reporters too.

[00:25:01] The recent firings at Fox News demonstrate a lot of that. My question is whether you believe the political situation in recent years has contributed to the increase in bullying in schools and in workplaces and in our daily lives. Do you feel that? 

[00:25:29] Kirk Smalley: I do and again, it goes back to kids watching adults and learning from that behavior.

[00:25:35] You mentioned politicians bullying each other and politicians, bullying reporters, and bullying happens in our workplaces as well. Bullying happens in our homes like we talked about earlier. Bullying is very prevalent. It happens in our professional sports.

[00:25:54] I'm a baseball fan. St. Louis Cardinals are my team. Me and Ty and Laura always went to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game at Bush Stadium for Ty's birthday every year. He loved the Cardinals. He always said he had two favorite baseball teams, the St. Louis Cardinals, and anybody that was beating the Yankees.

[00:26:14] Bob Gatty: I say that about the Baltimore Orioles, and I have to tell you, Kurt, 

[00:26:20] Mark M. Bello: I've offered the second half of that. But I got to the Tigers, beat the Cardinals in the 68 World Series. I just wanna say. 

[00:26:26] Bob Gatty: I got to see the Orioles beat the Cardinals in a spring training game.

[00:26:30] Kirk Smalley: I had a man reach out to me and I don't know if you guys know who he is. His name was Billy Bean. Yeah, I don't, he do. I do. And Billy Bean was, he played for the Tigers. Yeah. And he was one of the first major League ball players that came out as, gay. And he was hired by the commissioner of baseball to be an inclusive person to go around and talk to all of the players and stuff about being inclusive.

[00:26:59] And he and I have been, have communicated over the past via email and, had several conversations. And I told him, I said, Billy here's what I'd like to see. I said, I grew up playing Little League baseball. I've been a fan of Major League baseball all my life. I had a an uncle that actually played for the St. Louis Cardinals farm team way back in the thirties or forties. I've got a picture of him in the old baseball uniform. And I said, I coached little League baseball until Ty passed. And one thing I see when kids are, playing youth baseball after the ball game, what does every team do? They walk across the field and they shake hands and they say, good game.

[00:27:50] Or they high five. And they say, good game. And I said, after every major league ball game, what do they do? And he said the players high five each other. Their own teammates they run out and they say, great. Great job. Good game. I would like to see Major League baseball and all the other sports.

[00:28:12] One game a year. That's all I'm asking. One game a year. Meet out in the middle of that field, into that infield. Shake your opponent's hand after the game and say, you did a great job. Good game high five, and let our kids see you do that because they're watching you. You're their heroes, man. And they're learning from that.

[00:28:37] And when they see professional athletes bullying each other, they see it on them doing it online. They see 'em doing it on social media. They see 'em doing it on the field. They see bullying in our workplaces, in our homes from our politicians. They're, soaking all that in and they think that's acceptable behavior.

[00:28:57] And it's not. It can literally kill someone. It took my kid. My baby passed away 4,790 days ago, and I have missed him every second of every day and it's devastating. 

[00:29:15] Bob Gatty: Kirk, did you quit your job in order to do all this work that you're doing to try to stop bullying in honor of your son? 

[00:29:25] Kirk Smalley: For the first few years, I had a wonderful boss that I worked for.

[00:29:30] I was a construction worker. I did sheet metal work. I was a member of a sheet metal local union out of Oklahoma City, and my boss was amazing. He let me go anytime I needed to go and speak to kids in schools because he knew that what I was doing was saving babies and saving lives. And he said you go do what you need to do.

[00:29:51] You save babies. And then it got to the point where I was traveling. I was on the road literally 300 days a year. And obviously you can't hold a full-time job. And I got no, you can't. To where I I couldn't do it. I, and yeah I, quit my job and I threw myself into doing what I do, trying to, save kids.

[00:30:17] Bob Gatty: Are you raising money? Are you getting financial assistance? 

[00:30:22] Kirk Smalley: We get donations on our website. We, applied, Laura before she passed, she took a course on grant writing and she applied for several grants and stuff. And we got grants to help us continue our, work. Majority of our funding comes from, people just individuals that want to donate and help us.

[00:30:47] We have a donate button on our website and a lot of people will sign up for a monthly donation. Some of them might be $10 a month, some of 'em might be a dollar a month, but you know what? Every dollar that we receive helps me buy a wristband for a kid that says, I am Somebody. These glow in the dark so kids can read 'em at night.

[00:31:07] It helps me buy the pledge cards that we give to the kids by the thousands, and we give every one of the kids we talk to one of these wrist bands and one of these pledge cards and it helps me travel to schools that invite me to speak. I actually have fundraising teams now. The last couple of years I decided, I realized that I can't continue to do what I do without help . And so I put fundraising teams out in 19 different states and they've been doing phenomenal work for me. They raise money to. And not only that, they raise awareness, which is so important. They have gotten me invited to so many schools. When the pandemic began, we got shut down on being able to do presentations in person in schools.

[00:31:52] They didn't want all the kids in an auditorium or a gymnasium together because of Covid. And so we did a lot more online presentations for schools zoom presentations. Since the pandemic has ended and schools are pretty much back to normal, we're back to traveling about 300 plus days a year.

[00:32:14] We average about 300 days a year on the road speaking. I got to where I quit flying because I have really, bad luck with airlines. , canceled my flights. They, delay my flights, they lose my luggage, which has all of my wristbands and presentation supplies and all the resources that I leave at schools.

[00:32:33] So I pretty much drive everywhere. I just got home recently from driving 22 hours to go to a school in Naples, Florida, from Oklahoma. And then I did a presentation there and turned around and drove 22 hours back. Yes. At the end of the month I head to Utah. That's about a 21 hour drive for me.

[00:32:54] Mark M. Bello: Hey, Kirk, I recently wrote a book about bullying called Happy Jack, Sad Jack, A Bullying Story, in rhyme. It's a children's picture book for kids from kindergarten to perhaps fourth grade. Jack is a biracial child who's bullied because he's different, for lack of a better way to say it, than the white kids in school.

[00:33:17] I have a couple questions about that. How much of bullying that you encounter is based on racial issues, One and two, does bullying occur at such a, young age? This child in the book was bullied in kindergarten, and I was looking for a way to introduce the issue to kids before it becomes an issue.

[00:33:44] Is that a thing? Do kids get bullied at that young at age? Is this book appropriate to teach bullying? 

[00:33:51] Kirk Smalley: It is sadly, and unfortunately, Mark bullying happens. I speak normally to kids from about fourth grade on it because our message is pretty powerful. We not only talk about bullying, we talk about youth suicide, and we try to get the older kids in the communities just spread our message down to the little bitty ones.

[00:34:12] But, yes, bullying does occur as young as, preschool and, kindergarten. I'm actually speaking Monday morning or Monday afternoon at a school in Fort Worth, Texas to kindergarten through eighth grade. Bullying happens on all age levels, sadly. And the, book you wrote I, literally love it.

[00:34:40] We have tons of, children's books on our website and we're we're gonna get yours with your approval on there soon because those are very important resources for our kids and for our parents and for our schools and communities and our libraries. And you know what I do when some of the resources that I leave at every school I go to, I leave them some of those children's books. I speak at middle schools and high schools, elementary schools, colleges, open to the public community presentations. And I leave children's books with every single one of those because our, local college kids and our local high school kids, they're the local heroes.

[00:35:29] The little kids look up to them they want to be like them. They want to dress the way they dress. If you start wearing Nike tennis shoes in high school, all your elementary kids are gonna have 'em on in a week. They want to say the things they say they want to act the way they act. And I get those local high school or college kids or middle school kids, to take those children's books down to their elementary schools in their community and read the stories to 'em, and then have a talk with them about it.

[00:35:59] Now that, that's the, impact to that is twofold. First of all, it keeps the older kids involved. It makes them feel like, Hey, I'm making a difference. I'm being somebody's hero. I'm teaching somebody something and it spreads our message down to those little ones. And they learn from somebody that they respect, somebody that they look up to somewhat, one that they want to emulate and be like, and they realize I don't have to be this way.

[00:36:30] Mark M. Bello: What about the other part of my question? The, racial or religious issues are, they are What, would you say or if the percentage of bullying or is based on that 

[00:36:45] Kirk Smalley: Bullying happens for just about every reason that you can think of. There is a lot of racial bullying going on in our schools and in our communities, and even in our homes.

[00:36:56] And there are a lot of religious bullying that is something that, that we as an organization do not really. Get involved in is, religion. I myself, am a religious man. I believe that there's something after this. I have to, believe that Mark, because someday I wanna hold my wife and I'm gonna hold my baby again.

[00:37:22] And I have to be the best man I can while I'm on this earth so that I can see them again. And I've gotta believe that there's something in the hereafter. 

[00:37:31] Mark M. Bello: I wish that for you, man. 

[00:37:33] Kirk Smalley: But we as an organization do not get involved in politics, and we don't get involved in religion because those are too inflammatory.

[00:37:43] If I say I'm a Republican and a conservative, then I've lost half my audience, that's for sure. I've lost half of the people that want to hear my message. If I say that I'm Baptist or Christian or Buddhist or, atheist or whatever, then I've lost a portion of my audience. We want to be all inclusive so that everyone hears the message that, you know what?

[00:38:08] We don't have to be this way. We can change this world, but it's gonna take all of us fighting for these kids. 

[00:38:14] Bob Gatty: All right. Anybody else have anything to add? 

[00:38:18] Mark M. Bello: I, understand that that Stand for the Silent can help ordinary citizens like Bob and I in South Carolina or in Michigan or anywhere else, host a presentation in their own neighborhood.

[00:38:32] How, did we get that? How does that get done? 

[00:38:35] Kirk Smalley: Sure. If you go to our website, there's a dropdown on the menu and.

[00:38:40] Mark M. Bello: What's the, what's the website by the way? Stand for the silent dot.

[00:38:43] Kirk Smalley: It's www stand for the silent.org. Okay. And if you go to there the homepage, there's a dropdown on the main homepage and there's a menu.

[00:38:55] And if you can go to For Schools, you'll see a, place where it says, host a presentation. And you click on that and it has a form you fill out who you are, what your role is at the school. I get a lot of parents that say, I want you to come and talk to my kids' school. They really, need this.

[00:39:15] Unfortunately, I can't just call a school and say, Hey, I'm gonna be there Tuesday, have all your kids at 9:00 AM That's amazing. It doesn't work that way. You have to get someone at the school that will schedule a presentation with me. So talk to your principal, your assistant principal, a counselor, a teacher, someone that you one of your contacts at the school, and get them to invite us and we will come free of charge.

[00:39:41] We'll put you in touch with our scheduled coordinator and we'll make it happen. It's that simple. 

[00:39:47] Mark M. Bello: I've been on your website. It also talks about, quote, starting a chap, starting a chapter. 

[00:39:54] Kirk Smalley: How does somebody start a chapter? I. That's real easy too. We've made it easy so that basically anyone can do it.

[00:40:02] We, like to see chapters get started in not only schools, but in communities. There's two different types of chapters, and you start either one of 'em both the, same way again, you go to our website, you click on that for schools tab, and if you scroll down, you'll see. How to start a chapter or start a chapter and you click on it, you scroll down a little bit and there's gonna be, I think it's a little blue button that you click on that says Download start a chapter packet.

[00:40:30] It's gonna look similar to this right here. It has a. Information step by step, how the parents can start a chapter in their community, how a school can start a chapter in their school has the original constitution that was written by children, an example of what we would need sent to us from the chapter.

[00:40:52] They, hold a meeting. They, Vote for their officers. They create a name and a mission statement for their chapter. And then once we approve it, we send 'em an official letter that says, your chapter was approved on such and such date. We put 'em in touch with our national chapter liaisons and they go to work.

[00:41:12] Mark M. Bello: Has that been a successful campaign? Have you started a lot of new chapters? 

[00:41:17] Kirk Smalley: It actually has our, chapter list seems to hover around 400 for some reason. Part of the reason is when I go to a school and speak, they get all excited.

[00:41:30] They, get fired up and they want to keep this going. And they start their chapter in, say, a high school, and they continue it for three or four years and then those kids all graduate and they leave and it dies off a little bit. I have some schools that I go to every, or communities that I go to their schools almost every single year.

[00:41:52] I've got one in Aurora, Illinois and they have four middle schools in their, community, and every year they bring me in to speak to all four of their seventh grade classes and their. Chapters in their schools seem to be more long, have more longevity to 'em because they, the kids are continually getting fresh blood into that chapter that have heard my message and, seen what we do and, why we do what we do.

[00:42:21] I have a lot of community chapters that, that want to get the message out into their community and help support their community. Kids and, they help get us into their local schools and raise awareness in their communities and stuff like that. Some of the things I've seen my school chapters do, I have a chapter in Brownstown, Illinois.

[00:42:42] Their basketball team got a bunch of our wristbands, got a bunch of our pledge cards, we've got a bunch of our brochures. Tell about who we are and what we do. And during every single one of their home games, they went out at halftime, they read our pledge out loud and had the crowd repeat it with them.

[00:43:04] Wow. And then after they did that, they walked across the court. They gave each one of their opponents, one of our wristbands, one of our pledge cards, and I hand a brochure to the coach of that opposing team. When they did that, within a month, I got invited to 12 schools in that area because of those kids spreading our message that way.

[00:43:30] Those are some of the things our, chapter kids do. They're just, they're amazing. They do floats in their homecoming parade and town's Christmas parade. They do fundraisers for their chapter that money stays with them. They purchase I had one of our chapters that bought out a bunch of prom dresses from a business in their community that was going out of business.

[00:43:56] And they donated those prom dresses to local school kids that couldn't afford to buy a prom dress to go to prom. Those type of things. 

[00:44:06] Mark M. Bello: That's amazing stuff. Last question. Tell, the people about Rory and Roxy. Who are they? And by the way, what did they think of Happy Jack?. 

[00:44:17] Kirk Smalley: Oh, Rory and Roxy are two young girls that are just amazing.

[00:44:24] I can't say enough good about these two, two babies. They're, being homeschooled. Their parents don't want them to go to public schools. They're afraid of the bullying and, what's going on in our public schools nowadays. And, they are just smart as whips. These two young ladies are just so intelligent and they live not too far from me. I live out in the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma, out in the country, and they live down the, a dirt road from me. And every time we get a new children's book, I have them do a review of it. They read the story. They usually read it with their, grandpa, and then they have a discussion about it.

[00:45:11] And their grandfather and a, lady that works for Stand for the Silent help them write their review for that book. And you can find those on our website as well. The Rory and Roxy reviews are outstanding and they, learn so much from these children's books and how to treat each other, how to treat others, and how to respect yourself and, that type of thing.

[00:45:37] And they're just amazing young ladies. And they've done a review on your book, Mark and, I think you've got a copy of it sent to you, didn't you?

[00:45:45] Mark M. Bello: I did. Okay. I did. I, have to tell you that I've, gotten a lot of reviews in my days for a lot of my books, and I'm most honored about that one .

[00:45:58] Bob Gatty: All right. Kirk, I'll tell you what, it has been a, real treat to listen to, a real pleasure to speak with you and to learn about the work that you're doing with Stand For the Silent. And you guys, if if you can chip in and help out go on the stand for the silent website do what you can contribute.

[00:46:22] If you can start a chapter if you can. This is a really important undertaking. Kirk has devoted his life in honor of his son to this. And and, I recommend, I hope that we can all support this initiative. 

[00:46:44] Mark M. Bello: Stand for the silent.org. Stand for the silent.org. 

[00:46:50] Bob Gatty: So guys, thanks so much for listening.

[00:46:52] If you haven't done so already, check out Mark Bello's ripped from the headlines, legal thrillers, they're all available online at Amazon and other major online book sellers. He is quite the hero at attorney Zachary Blake, who fights for justice on all fronts. His books are Betrayal of Faith, betrayal of Justice, betrayal in Blue, betrayal in Black Betrayal high, Supreme Betrayal, betrayal at the Border, you have the right to remain silent and his latest. The final steps. A Harbor Springs cozy legal mystery. Now, he's also written the children's book that we've been talking about this afternoon. Happy Jack. Sad Jack. It's a wonderful story and, a wonderful book and I recommend you check it out.

[00:47:44] For more information, just go to mark em bellow.com. Now, until next time, this is Bob Gaty for Mark Bellow signing off from Justice Counts. 


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