Sarasota’s Team REDS has a mission statement of “Racing against Bullying” and is proud to have the ChildHelp® emblem affixed to their Super Boat when racing over 100 mph on water. The Team also invited McGruff the Crime Dog to be an honorary team member to help stamp out bullying.
Team REDS recently learned that a young boy at a junior high school in the Eastern US is being bullied by several of his classmates. When they further discovered that the parents of these bullies were encouraging this behavior, Team REDS became even more alarmed and outreached to ChildHelp® to find out if the organization could provide guidance and resources to assist the school, its teachers and parents to cool the situation.
For privacy reasons, we will refer to this boy as “Mike.” A school administrator overheard a student make a violent threat to Mike, and the student was appropriately suspended for a day. In retaliation, the parents of the bullying student got other parents involved, and those parents decided to pull their children from class that same day and hosted a party for the protesting students. Instead of teaching their children that any form of bullying is intolerable, the parents’ actions, no matter what the excuse, actually encouraged bullying, which is a learned, unacceptable behavior.
Sadly, there are thousands of Mike’s out there, ones who, as the administrator who witnessed this threat and shared this story, “march to the beat of their own drum.” These are the children at risk for suicide and depression as a result of being bullied and treated differently for not trying to blend in with the popular and accepted social circles.
“Parents need to understand how much kids learn from their behaviors,” the school administrator shared. “If they see you being mean to someone at the grocery store, to a server at a restaurant – wherever – they are going to assume that’s acceptable. When parents do not hold their kids accountable for their actions, they not only encourage bullying behavior, but the problem then only escalates.”
ChildHelp® has a nationwide “Speak Up Be Safe” program that is taught to faculty and administrators of schools to effectively stop bullying and abuse in schools and – in turn – in the home. Visit SpeakUpBeSafe.org to learn more about this important program and how you can get your school involved. It is likely that the “Speak Up Be Safe” program will be introduced to Mike’s school this coming school year.
In the interim, Team REDS wanted to let Mike know that they support him. While the Super Boat race teams were in Sarasota during the July 4th weekend, Team REDS asked their fellow racers to sign the back of a race t-shirt, hero cards, posters and a baseball hat for Mike. The Teams of Geico, Stihl, Warpaint, Instigator, Qatar, Tilted Kilt, Raven, and many other teams including Paul Sr. of the Orange County Choppers wrote encouraging notes such as “Hang in there, Mike,” and “We believe in You.”
About the Team Photo: Pictured above on the First Row Left to Right: Team REDS Navigator Zachary Bush, Driver Nate Hunt and Throttle Ed Tambarino. Second Row Left to Right: Jessica Hunt, McGruff the Crime Dog (Stan Gerstlauer), and Lauren Hunt, signing Hero Cards for Kids and Young Race Fans.
Below is A Personal Note from Childhelp Founders,
Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson
July 15, 2014
Dear Dana, Rob and Super Boat Superstars!
We loved the image of your fabulous boat cutting through the waves and remain thrilled the Childhelp logo continues to capture attention and raise awareness. It is such a loving act to inform new audiences about our mission and hopefully bring new hearts into the lives of the children we love.
[We are] so sorry to hear about the poor little boy being bullied. It is wonderful that you are sending gifts and support [Mike’s] way. It is extremely sad when children bully one another, but when the parents participate rather than stopping the abuse it is despicable. Our Childhelp Speak Up Be Safe curriculum includes important resources on cyber-bullying, and we would like it to be available in every school in the country. Here is a link that will get you started learning more about these lifesaving resources: http://www.childhelp.org/programs/entry/speak-up-be-safe/. If you would like to discuss sponsorship for [Mike’s] school district, a [ChildHelp “Speak Up Be Safe” representative] can teach you all about how this works and what is possible when a community of caring stands up for one little boy and all the silent [Mike’s] who haven’t spoken up but live with the painful secret of bullying and cyber abuse in their lives.
… Our hearts are always with the loving friends that share a little piece of their lives with boys and girls just like [Mike] who need our protection and compassion.
Sending you lots of wishes for another fine victory on the high seas!
For the love of a child,
Sara O’Meara Yvonne Fedderson
Chairman & CEO President
Note: To date, Watt-Ahh® Customers have donated over $4,000 to ChildHelp®.