After 7th Grader Is Teased For Unfashionable Clothing, Classmate Puts Together Nice Present
Sep 14, 2021 by apost team
Bullying has long been taken for granted. People believe that it's just part of growing up, but that doesn't mean it should be condoned. If we condition children for cruelty, it's going to be a challenge for them to become confident, strong adults, and so we need to hold everyone to a higher standard.
Back in 2019, Haley Olson was a 7th grader at Atkinson Middle School in Phoenix, Arizona and was a victim of bullying. With six other siblings, Haley's family didn’t always have the resources to be able to purchase the most fashionable clothes. This, unfortunately, made Haley an outcast among peers who taunted her for what she wore.
The trauma of the bullying got to be so intense that Haley told her parents about her desire to be homeschooled in order to get away from the bullies. However, Haley's mistreatment did not go unnoticed. A classmate of hers, Mariah Andrew, took action to help bring love and compassion into Haley's life.
After getting Haley’s clothing sizes, Mariah assembled an assortment of clothes and shoes for Haley to have, as well as a backpack. Haley was immediately touched and beyond excited. Mariah’s compassion was unlike anything she had ever experienced at school.
Stories like this can remind us of how much love and kindness still exist in the world, particularly among children. Even as adults, we can learn from the example of Mariah by showing compassion toward those who have been mistreated. Being a hero isn't about saving the world. It's about standing up against wrongdoing and doing all we can to bring brightness into someone's life.
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"I always came home crying and stuff to my parents saying how I didn't want to go to school anymore, I wanted to be home schooled," Haley told Fox10 of her experience at Atkinson.
Eventually, however, Mariah took notice and decided to help out.
"I asked her one day for her sizes, she wrote them down on a piece of paper and brought it to me the next day," Mariah told Fox10.
Shortly thereafter, Haley’s new friend brought her some new clothes, shoes and a backpack, which is difficult for her family own family to afford. Once word about Mariah’s good deed got out in the community and on social media, other locals stepped in to help Haley and her family out. According to Fox10, Sonoran Smile Orthodontics offered to provide free dental work, while community members donated additional clothes and shoes.
According to the U.S. government’s StopBullying website, around 20% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 have experienced bullying across the nation. Parents should be on the lookout for symptoms of bullying, as its negative effects can endure into adulthood.
"Typical bullying symptoms include physical complaints such as tummy aches, as well as worries and fears, and a child not wanting to go to school," explains Dr. Steven Pastyrnak, the Division Chief of Psychology at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "A normal defense is to avoid or withdraw from things that are making her stressed."
If children display these symptoms, then parents should ask questions to get to the bottom of their children’s fears and feelings of unease, according to Parents.com.
"Establishing good communication should start well before the kids are having bullying problems," Dr. Pastyrnak tells Parents.com. "Keep it very general for the younger kids, but if you suspect a problem or if your child has vocalized a problem, press for more details.”
Beyond listening to your child, there are a couple of things you can do as a parent or guardian to help them respond to and cope with what’s going on at school.
To prepare your kids for what to do when a bully strikes, you can even roleplay and practice a few responses to namecalling or other forms of teasing. Comebacks should be simple and direct without being aggressive or antagonistic, as these might just make the bully angrier. Parents.com suggests, "Leave me alone," "Back off” and "That wasn't nice."
Finally, it’s important to teach your child what to do if they witness bullying. Kids should be taught to be “upstanders” rather than bystanders, which means that they should take “positive action” when they see a bully teasing someone, according to Parents.com.
"When it's the kids who speak up, it's ten times more powerful than anything that we'll ever be able to do as an adult," says Walter Roberts, a professor of counselor education at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
While she didn’t talk back to Haley’s bullies, Mariah was an upstander in the sense that instead of merely standing by and watching Haley get bullied throughout her middle school experience, she stepped in and did something to help. Luckily, there are people like Mariah in the world who stick up for their friends.
What do you think of Mariah's and Haley's story? Let us know if you've ever experienced a similar act of kindness, and be sure to show this to any family members or friends who love hearing inspirational stories!