Bailey O’Neil was a handsome, 11 year-old honor student from Darby, Pennsylvania. According to Baily and his parents the students that picked a fight with him frequently bullied him before the attack. During the fight, Bailey was struck in the face numerous times and one blow fractured his nose. Following this blow, Bailey fell to the ground. Bailey’s parents delivered him to an area hospital where it was found that the fight had resulted in a concussion.
After x-rays and examinations, Bailey was released from the hospital. Bailey’s parents noticed remarkable changes in him following the attack. Bailey was sleeping much more than before and he was moody according to his parents. Then Bailey began to experience violent seizures that lead to his hospitalization again and him being placed in a medically induced coma to protect him from the seizures. Now Bailey O’Neil has died as a result of his injuries.
The school suspended the two boys that attacked Bailey for two days and they have returned to school. The school superintendent has turned the matter over to the local police to determine if a crime has been committed.
Given the young ages of the children involved it is surprising that such serious injuries could be inflicted, however, it is a reminder that some 11 year-old boys are smaller and less developed while others are much larger and stronger at the same age.
Bullying continues to plague many schools and the death of Bailey O’Neil has put a new urgency around the issue of bullying. Bullying hurts young people every day emotionally and physically and now it can be said that bullying can be deadly.
If a young person is being bullied at school, it is very important to develop a plan to deal with being bullied. It might seem “not cool” or even a little scary to tell an adult but it could be the best thing to do. If a young person confides in an adult about being bullied and nothing happens, then they must tell another adult and then another until something is done.
While a response might take some time, the individual can do some things for themselves. Try to stay out of the places where the bully can attack. Try to travel with a friend or friends, bullies usually don’t try to bully groups, more often individuals. If a young person is being bullied they must be reminded that it is not their fault, no one deserves to be bullied. The old adage used to be to stand up to the bully or to fight back, it sounds good but probably is not a prudent step to take as the bully has sized the young person up as a victim and may injure them if a confrontation occurs.
Victims should always be supported in their efforts to report bullying and should not be shamed or blamed. Victims should not skip school or school activities because they fear being bullied. Disclosing that bullying is occurring can get parents involved as well and the bully may well take notice that adults are watching.
As adults, we have a chance to help a young person out in a way that will never be forgotten when they come to us to disclose bullying. For many, the bullying will have been occurring for some time when they finally decide to disclose that they are being bullied. If a young person discloses that they are being bullied and you cannot help them yourself, find another adult that can and will help them.
Remember, all kids count.
Contact at Hurlburt@wildblue.net