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SEC football players join forces to support bullying victim

Rachel Baribeau, SEC players fight bullying
COURTESY OF RACHEL BARIBEAU

I’ve often been told that in this life we may never see the seeds we’ve planted come to fruition but to keep planting anyway. That is what we are called to do.

So, when I received a call from a girlfriend in distress, I gave her my undivided attention. It turns out her stepson and his friends had mercilessly cyber-bullied a 13-year-old girl because of her ethnicity.

The taunts included a despicable racial epitaph once commonly used to ridicule people of Asian descent. The bullying, posted to Snapchat, escalated, wishing the girl to “burn like the bonfire” they were all attending.

As if that weren’t enough, expressions of hate and violence toward another ethnic group and a reference to the Holocaust were mentioned along with more routine name-calling – “ugly” and “bitch.”

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“We did not raise him this way,” she said to me.

I was heartbroken for them as parents, but more so for the victim, by all accounts a sweet, intelligent girl, singled out along with her friend because she looked different and was an easy target.

All the children involved are in the seventh grade.

Heinous.

I hung up the phone that day promising to pray and think about the next steps for this family.

First, we agreed that a call to the school principal was a must. The school needed to know what was going with their students in Pell City, Ala, even though the bullying occurred off of school grounds.

And this hit home for me, literally: I attended that junior high. I walked those hallways. I know what’s it’s like to be new and different. As the workday wore on, I couldn’t stop thinking of these girls and how I could help. That’s when the idea hit me, like a ton of bricks (like my ideas often do).

I have an arsenal at my fingertips, the kings I am raising up on campuses across the country. A “king,” my kings, are the college football players I’ve gotten to know through my work with #ChangingtheNarrative. I speak to teams across the country about using their platform as student-athletes to make a positive impact. They are exceptional in every facet of their life. They lead, they look out for others, they serve, they care, at an extraordinary level.

What if these kings made a video to support the girl who was bullied, while condemning the actions of the boys?

I sent a few texts to players at Alabama, Auburn and other SEC schools, knowing that because the bullies reside in their state, they would identify with the players they so desperately want to be when they grow up. Immediately, my phone started chiming back with “yes, I’ll have it to you tonight,” or “man, that is so messed up; yes, I will help,” or “I was bullied as a child; yes, I want to help.”

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