Being a teen is difficult. You’re finally old enough not to be called a child, but you’re not quite that big, bad teenager sitting at the back of the bus yet. On top of that, your body is changing in all sorts of weird ways. Then, add in the fact that you’ve got to be around other teens at school, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.
Liam was a seventh grader in Garden City, New York. To his mother Deirdre, he was a fairly typical kid. He liked to ride his bike, hang out with friends, and play soccer. At the beginning of his school year, things were looking great. He made the soccer team, and he’d bring his ball with him everywhere he went.
Then, something strange happened that winter. With no prior signs of odd behavior, Liam exited his room one day, handed his mom his cell phone, and told her he didn’t want it anymore. When she asked why, he shook his head and walked away from her, back into his room, alone.
Deirdre didn’t think much of it. She chalked it down to Liam’s frustrating adolescence. She knew kids had ups and downs, and so she gave him space he clearly wanted. She stashed the phone in a nearby drawer and vowed to keep a closer eye on what was happening to him.
More odd behavior arrived shortly after. He stopped carrying his soccer ball around, and he didn’t hang out with his friends anymore. But most alarmingly, he started eating less and less. Pounds started slipping from his already thin frame, and he turned from a young, growing boy to one of the skinniest students in his class.
Liam keeps to himself for a long time, never telling his mother what is bothering him. But when he tells her he doesn’t feel up to going to school one day, she knows that it’s time to confront him. They had to get to the bottom of it.
To her surprise, he finally spoke. He told her that a large group of boys has been tormenting him for the past year, and it’s really bothered him. They’ve been pushing and kicking him around, telling him how bad he is at soccer, and lastly that he should kill himself, that he wasn’t worth anything.
When Deirdre asked how often this happened, Liam said, “Every day, Mom.”
And things finally clicked for Deirdre. She looked at his bones protruding from his shirt and began to worry that she would lose him if she didn’t act. They got into the car and headed to the local hospital because she felt that she couldn’t do it on her own. After a year of depression and no appetite, she knew it was the best thing for him.
Shortly after they arrived, he was put on a feeding tube and heart monitor to treat his malnutrition. He spent the following ten weeks undergoing intense therapy for his depression and eating disorder. It was a long and grueling process for Liam to recognize that the boys were wrong finally, but he finally started getting better.
After the school and the bullies’ parents refused to take responsibility, she took to the internet. And boy are we glad that she did! Her social media post soon went viral, and #WeStandForLiam did too. Schools and organizations across the world began speaking out against bullying and letting Liam know that his life mattered.
And you know what—we stand for you too. Keep fighting, Liam!
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