Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has been extremely outspoken in his opposition to bullying among children, and in his support of anti-bullying legislation.
This week, after 12-year-old Bailey O’Neill of suburban Philadelphia tragically died following a fight on the playground at his school, Rice noted on his facebook page that the youth had actually contacted him a few weeks ago:
A few weeks ago i shared a link to an article that a fan sent to me. It was about an 11 year old boy named Bailey who had been bullied at school. In the latest incident, Bailey was beat up on the school playground. Hit in the face and pushed to the ground, Bailey began to have severe seizures which required him to be placed into a medically induced coma.
After learning last Thursday that doctors said Bailey had no longer had any brain activity, I reached out to the family and was able to spend about 45 minutes on the phone with them. I could hear their sadness, worry, frustration and grief. They would be faced with removing their son, cousin, nephew, and best friend from life support.
Bailey passed away this morning, one day after his 12th birthday.
I don’t think I will ever be able to understand why kids bully each other and how we are all sitting here after yet another “bully death” getting ready to go through this difficult task of picking up the pieces and the even more difficult task of forgiving so we can heal.
I don’t know if we will ever get to a point where bullying is actually considered a CRIME, rather than “kids being kids” or a “playground incident.”
I don’t know if the kid that did this to Bailey will be punished severely enough or if he will receive the help I know he truly needs. Bullying doesn’t happen for no reason…we have to figure out what the underlying cause it and treat it like the illness it is.
I don’t know when parents, teachers, elected officials and administrators will sit up and take notice…and ACT.
But, I DO KNOW THIS: I will NOT give up my fight. Everyday I will continue to fight AGAINST bullying and fight FOR kindness.
Bailey – my little buddy, I will not let you become just another bully statistic…you are my inspiration and one more angel that will help me continue the fight for kids everywhere. You are going to help me save lives. RIP my little friend.
Now, Rice is rallying support to make “cyber-bullying” a crime in Maryland. He posted the following on his personal website:
Even more information is available here.