Some parents might think it’s a bit too early to start asking their kids for their Christmas lists but single mom Karen Suffern wanted to get ahead of the game this year. Working as a part time assistant at a home health care company, Suffern wanted to do some early budgeting, as she figured her kids are at the age where they might begin asking for expensive electronic gifts.
According to CNN, what Suffern recently saw on her son’s list nearly tore her heart out, and not because of a toy or request with a high price point. Ryan, who is a fraternal twin, asked Santa to help his sister Amber – a fellow third-grader in his class at North Carolina’s Rocky Mountain Preparatory School – with a bullying situation. The letter read as follows:
Dear Santa ... I wanted a (remote control) car and helicopter, but I don't want that anymor [sic]. Kid at school are still picking on Amber and its not fair. I prayed that they will stop but god is bisy [sic] and needs your help.
Couldn’t you just cry?
The best thing to come from the letter is that Amber’s mom is now aware of the seriousness of the bullying that her daughter experiences. While she knew she was getting bullied on the bus, she had no idea it had gotten this bad.
Suffern explains that Amber is overweight due to being an emotional eater, and also suffers from ADHD as well as other mood and mental disorders. Amber never mentioned the bullying to her mother, but has asked to stay home repeatedly, and now Suffern feels as though she let her daughter down.
Ryan took his mother aside and told her how the kids laugh at Amber in gym class when she can’t do the bear crawl, and they tease her and tell her she is adopted because she is multiracial. "I try to build up my daughter's self-esteem and tell her she is beautiful, but people say hurtful things to me, because I also have a weight problem, and that hurts me," she said. "I can't imagine what she goes through."
Suffern took to Facebook to share the heartbreaking letter, and one of the people with whom she shared it with was Tony Posnanski. Posnanski’s Facebook page offers stories of inspiration on weight loss as well as life advice. "When I was a kid, I was bullied for a bit" Posnanski said, relating to Amber’s issues. Having been moved by Ryan’s letter, the motivational speaker posted it to CNN iReport, where it drew thousands of page views.
As CNN points out, the rate of suicides over bullying certainly does make it a serious issue and, shockingly enough, one in four kids are reportedly bullied. In response to the article, Rocky Mountain Prep released the following statement:
We are hyper-vigilant at Rocky Mount Prep to prevent, intervene and protect our scholars from instances such as this. Our teachers and staff have received training to recognize and address these types of behaviors, and we are proud of the way they respond. We are saddened that this has taken place within our school family, and we can assure all of our parents, scholars and community that we will continue to do everything possible to provide them with a positive and safe learning environment.
Do you think this is enough of a response? What would you do if you were Amber’s parent?