Dan Bewley, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- One in every four children are victims of bullies, according to the Justice Department. Saturday, an Oklahoma dad told dozens of Tulsa parents and school kids how bullying can lead to tragedy.
Sitting in a classroom on a Saturday may seem unusual, but for Kirk Smalley this conference is a chance to tell the tragic story of his son, Ty.
"Just a typical boy, he hunted with me, loved to hunt and fish...just all boy," Smalley said.
Ty Field killed himself this past May after, his father says, he had enough of being bullied.
"We're living a nightmare and we're not going to...I can't live with myself knowing that somebody else is going to go through what my wife and I are going through without doing everything I possibly can to help stop it from happening," he said.
Smalley is focused on putting a stop to bullying. This summer he took his son's tragedy to the steps of the state capitol.
The Justice Department says middle schoolers are more likely to be bullied than any other age group. Smalley says that means the older kids need to set positive examples. He would also like to see stronger laws.
"We do have to have some new legislation. We've got to give some teeth to some of our laws. We have to give the schools an out...if this happens then you do this," Smalley said.
The experts say kids are very good at keeping the fact that they're being bullied a secret. But, they say, if you know what to look for there are warning signs.
Some of those include a change in mood; the child may feign illness or look for ways to avoid school, they'll try to isolate themselves, or becomes aggressive at home to siblings or pets.
Smalley says if you notice any of those don't be afraid to speak out.
"If your child is being picked on and you feel the school isn't doing anything about it or no one's doing anything about it keep making the noise until you get results," explained Smalley.
Organizers say if you believe your child is being bullied or even if they're the bully themselves you should contact your school immediately but also contact Family and Children's Services.
Copes for Kids is a telephone crises line staffed 24/7. Anyone can call at 918-744-4800.