Almost nine months ago Washington Middle School student Bennie Hargrove was shot and killed after trying to protect a friend who was being bullied. In 2019 a 13-year-old Socorro girl committed suicide after enduring an onslaught of beatings and harassment from other students. And in 2010 11-year-old Ty Smalley of Oklahoma took his own life after years of being bullied by others.
After hearing about Ty, a group of Oklahoma high schoolers formed the anti-bullying organization Stand for the Silent. Ty’s dad, Kirk Smalley, explained in an email that after 12 years the organization is still going strong and has 337 chapters in 40 states and 18 countries. According to the Stand for the Silent website, the organization “exists as a platform to allow Kirk and Laura to share their story, and offer education and tools that will prevent their tragedy from happening to another child and family. Kirk and Laura’s mission is to continue to change kids’ lives and bring awareness to bullying and the real devastation it causes.”
On Friday, April 8 Allana Anaya and Jaedin Gonzales were standing outside of the Circle K on Harper Drive asking for donations and helping raise awareness for Stand for the Silent. “Bullying and suicide is unfortunately something that is really close to all of us,” Anaya said. “My little sister gets bullied every day; she has a speech impediment. We come out here and make sure that these kids get youth mentors and free education to really set them up with all the tools they need to be successful in life.”
“Everybody you talk to, almost everybody, has been involved with the situation, whether relating to suicide or being bullied,” Gonzales said. “And me being out here the more I see it. I’ll get people talking to me and saying, ‘I’ve been bullied.’ It just makes me wish that we had more programs out there to help out way prior to it.”
When asked if she thought Stand for the Silent was preventing bullying, Anaya responded, “I think that the numbers don’t lie, and we’ve helped 3.2 million and that’s a big number. And it gets bigger every single day. So, I definitely think that we’re making a difference.”
Gonzales didn’t have an exact number for donations they raised at the Harper Drive Circle K location, but he did say, “We wouldn’t still be here if the community wasn’t so supportive.”
Donations are used to provide materials and pay for presentations at schools to raise awareness about bullying. Gonzales said Kirk will personally go to different schools to give presentations. “He actually does go to the schools, and he gives presentations to everyone. It’s a K through 12 forum. And he’ll go there, he’ll give his presentation showing the real world causes and effects of bullying and how big of an issue it is and what it can lead to. Just so it can really hit hard,” Gonzales said.
When asked if any of the schools in the La Cueva area have directly benefited from donations, Kirk responded, “I haven’t been invited to any of the schools that you mentioned but would love to come speak at any or all of them. We do not charge for our presentations so if anyone can help get us invited it would be great!”
Kirk is currently giving presentations to schools in Missouri and will then go to Tennessee. Donations to help pay for the presentations and other materials will be taken at the Circle K location through Saturday, April 8. Stand for the Silent representatives can be found at multiple locations throughout Albuquerque and donations can also be given online at standforthesilent.org.
The above music video titled “Mean GIrls” by Rachel Crow is part of a series of supporter videos on the Stand for the Silent website.