By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com April 15 2013 7:00 PM ET
A Wisconsin father whose sixth-grade son was bullied turned to Facebook to demonstrate that he stands behind his son — literally and figuratively.
Matthew Bent said that school administrators ignored his son's requests for help after he was repeatedly body-slammed on a wrestling mat by a school bully. So Bent took to Facebook to demonstrate his support for his son's plight.
In a photo posted March 26 on Bent's Facebook page, the father stands behind his son, who holds a sign reading, "I stand behind my son in the fight against bullying! Please 'like' and 'share' to send a message loud and clear that bullying needs to stop now! Tell school districts that protecting bullies by turning a blind eye is wrong! Shame on Kaukauna area schools for protecting a bully in their school!"
Brent's son, Shiloh, is in the sixth grade at River View Middle School, within Wisconsin's Kaukauna school district. Brent says that when his son first reported the incident to school officials, administrators told Shiloh it was his own fault for walking "into the lion's den" where the bullies hang out.
After the photo went viral, with nearly half a million likes and shares, the boy's school responded and disciplined the students involved, reports the Appleton Post-Crescent. Brent told the Post-Crescent he was pleased with the response, but doesn't think it would have arrived if the photo hadn't gone viral.
"Would anything have happened if I didn't take that picture?" asked Brent. "My gut reaction tells me no."
Kaukauna Superintendent Mark Duerwaechter announced plans last week to update the district's antibullying resources in response to the incident. Bent told the Post-Crescent that after renewed discussions, he is confident the district will become a leader in bullying prevention.
"We will continue to use this incident as an example from which we can learn,” Duerwaechter said. “We will continue to evaluate what we did well in this matter, and what we can improve upon and apply the learning to future incidents."
Watch the Bents tell their story to Matt Lauer on Today below.
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