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Little 10-year old Seven Bridges suffered. He suffered from a medical condition that required 26 surgeries in his short life. He suffered from being ostracized by his peers. He suffered from bullying. A week ago, he found a way to end his suffering.
While stories of children committing suicide are always heartbreaking, this particular story hit Anthony and me hard. Seven’s medical condition required him to wear an ostomy bag. According to the GoFundMe account set up to support the family, Seven’s had an ostomy reversal, but was struggling with fecal incontinence.
Faith wears an ostomy, and shortly, like Seven, she will have surgery to reverse her ostomy. My biggest fear is that she will face bullying due to her medical condition. I am afraid that Seven’s struggles will also be Faith’s struggles.
Even though Faith is only 2, we try to build her self-esteem and confidence. We foster her independence, and talk to her regularly about her medical condition. But is this enough? Like so many children with serious medical conditions, she is strong. She is a fighter. We often call our children “warriors” because they are battling life-threatening conditions. But, Seven’s death reminds me that everyone, even our “warriors” have a breaking point.
As a parent of a medically needy child, one of my biggest roles is as her advocate. I will always advocate for her. Unfortunately, due to her medical condition, it is likely that she will face bullying in school. So many children with her condition do. But there are things that we, as parents, can do to help prevent it. The website www.stopbullying.gov lists some simple things we can do to help prevent bullying:
How to Prevent Bullying
- Help kids understand bullying. Kids that understand what bullying is can identify it and are more likely to stand up against it or speak out.
- Open Communication. Check in with your child. Ask about their day. Know their friends.
- Encourage kids to do what they love. Get your child involved in activities they enjoy doing. It is fun and helps build relationships with others with similar interests.
- Model how to treat others. Our children learn from us. They do what we do. Treat others kindly and with respect and your child will learn to do the same.
Seven’s death has left me with so many questions it is unnerving. Will Faith be bullied? And if so, how will we handle it? Will she tell us what is going on? How do you identify bullying? What do you do if you are a parent of a bully? The list of questions goes on and on. I don’t have the answers and bullying is too serious a topic for me to speculate. Seven Bridges shows us that. Fortunately, there are resources such as http://www.stopbullying.gov and http://www.stompoutbullying.org to help answer these and other questions.
For more about Seven’s story and to support his family go to the Gofundme page for Seven Bridges.