An Oklahoma teen who said he tried to commit suicide three times because he was bullied challenged participants at a statewide rally Monday to take a stand against bullying.
“I'm a survivor,” Kevin Merriman, 15, said during the third annual state Capitol rally against bullying.
Merriman, a McLoud High School freshman, said he has been bullied since he was in kindergarten but learned the value of having friends who stood behind him.
“One person can't do it alone,” he said. “If a bully's going to fight one of us, he's going to have to fight all of us.”
Reps. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, and Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, told about 125 people attending the rally, most of them students, that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Mongo Allen, former principal at SeeWorth Academy, an Oklahoma City alternative charter school, said bullying is a growing problem because bullies can harass students on social media in addition to the classroom.
“Bullying is one of the most terrible things that can happen to you,” Allen said. “Silence will hurt you.”
Allen, an author and film writer, said Goliath in the Bible was one of the earliest bullies, but David was able to defeat him with a well-placed stone. Just as David grabbed five stones because he didn't know how many he would need, students should remember they have five groups of people who can help them deal with bullies: parents, counselors, teachers, principals and police officers or others in authority.
Allen has written a book for children younger than 12 called “The Bobos' Trip to the Zoo: A Book on Bully Prevention.” It will be released in the fall.
Rep. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, who helped organize the rally, said she is glad Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday signed House Bill 1661, which adds cyberbullying to state anti-bullying laws.
“Schools are concerned that they will not be able to enforce cyberbullying language, but I think the law will make it possible for law enforcement to get involved,” she said. “The role of schools will be to document the cyberbullying taking place among their students.
“We're going to enforce these rules whether it originated on school grounds or not,” Pittman said. “It helps students feel comfortable, feel safe. It also gives parents a reality check: You may get a knock at the door because of something your kid said on a computer.”