Strangers Step In To Stop Bullying

The story usually doesn’t end well when bullying makes headlines, but some recent news from Puyallup, Washington, provides an uplifting conclusion.

Earlier this month, a teenager joined a group of so-called friends at the local IHOP to enjoy National Pancake Day. When Luke Perry, 14, approached the table, he was laughed at, ridiculed, and not allowed to sit down, so he moved to another table and dined alone. This public display of bullying didn’t go unnoticed: Both customers and restaurant employees came to Perry’s aid. The teens were told to stop bullying Perry, or they could leave.

Server Lavon Etheridge understood just what Perry was feeling. In a local television interview, Etheridge commented that he too was bullied in high school. Etheridge, a customer, and another employee bought Perry’s meal to lift the teen’s spirits. His mother was so moved by their kindness that she called the IHOP corporate office to explain how caring the employees and patrons of the restaurant were to her son. The heartwarming gestures made an impression, even on one of the bullies. He later apologized to Perry and told him, “If that’s what fitting in feels like, I don’t want to fit in.”

It takes courage to stop bullying and go against what your friends tell you to do. Kudos to that teen for doing what’s right, but unfortunately children are bullied every day. Many times the taunting and humiliation are ignored by others or brushed off as “kids being kids.”

When I was in middle school, I was bullied daily because I had long, thick hair. One boy nicknamed me “wig woman” and encouraged his friends to chant the moniker every time I walked by. They’d even reach out and tug my hair to see if it was real. They were never reprimanded or made to apologize.

When you notice someone being bullied or are in a situation where someone teases or abuses you, it’s incredibly brave to ask for help. Go to a teacher, guidance counselor, your parents, a supervisor, or the police. If you feel your life is threatened, dial 911. Help is available if you need it.

Perry summed it up best during an interview with KIRO TV: “Although there might be some kids picking on you, and some kids that are just the worst of humanity — there will always be the greatness of humanity.”

Image source: Flickr