Son Drastically Starts Losing Weight, Then Mom Learns Truth He's Been Hiding At School For Months
Noelle Talmon 11/6/2017
A mom named Deirdre Fell-O'brien from Garden City, New York, had a good relationship with her son Liam, so she was very concerned when he started exhibiting some strange behavior.
When Liam started 7th grade at Garden City Middle School, he was very happy. He had a lot of friends and enjoyed riding his bike and playing soccer. When he made the soccer team, Liam was very excited.
But after the season ended, something had changed. Liam spent more time at home and less time with his friends. He even gave his iPhone back to his parents because he said he didn't want to deal with the "drama."
Then one day Liam told his mom a disturbing story. Deirdre explained in a Facebook post:
"Towards the end of the year, he came home very upset that someone had punched him on the way to the bus at school. Liam said he didn't know who it was."
After school ended, Liam tried out for soccer and made the team. However, he refused to pick up a soccer ball all summer. His behavior was very concerning. Mom suspected something was going on, but never this.
After he spent a few weeks working with his dad at the racetrack in Saratoga, New York, Liam came back home noticeably thinner. Deirdre observed:
"While he was there my husband said Liam is not eating like he used to and when he came home I noticed the weight loss. He started to eat just 1 meal a day."
She tried talking to Liam to find out what was going on, but he would not talk about it. She took him to the doctor and discovered he had lost 10 pounds. A few days later he was admitted to Cohens Children's Medical Center in Queens.
Liam was so miserable there that he promised his parents that he would eat if they took him home.
When school started again, Deirdre went with her son to speak with the guidance counselors and nurses. She told them about his condition, and the administration assured her that Liam was in a safe environment. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Deirdre explained:
"Liam came home on Friday with a bruise on his face. I kept asking what happened? He said nothing, he banged it by accident."
That day happened to be his birthday, so they went out that night to celebrate. But Liam still wasn't acting like himself.
"He didn't eat. He barely ate the rest of the weekend. He lost 5 pounds that first week back. That Monday he didn't go to school."
Deirdre pleaded with her son to tell her what was happening. He finally gave in and explained that he had been bullied terribly in seventh grade. After he made the soccer team, two kids started picking on him:
"2 kids told him he sucked and shouldn't have made the team. There were unnecessary pushes and kicks. He was told he was weird, he was fat, his freckles were weird, his eyebrows were weird. They used horrible language and called him nasty words."
Liam told his mom that he was bullied every day, and before long he started to believe what they were saying. He revealed that he got the bruise on his face after a boy pushed him into his gym locker, but no one was there to witness it.
Even though administrators promised that Liam would be safe, they didn't protect him.
Unfortunately, Liam had to be readmitted to the hospital. He was fitted with a feeding tube and a heart monitor because his heart was beating so low due to malnutrition.
Deirdre and her husband reported the incident to the school and met with the guidance counselor and social worker. The principal did not meet with them. They were stunned by what the school found during its investigation. Deirdre explained:
"I was told Liam's perception may have been different from reality. They just couldn't find evidence that this happened. I have a picture of a bruise on his face, they said staff said he didn't exhibit behavior that would suggest something just happened to him. We are so disappointed. The bully's [sic] will continue to bully."
While all this was going on, the kids who purportedly bullied Liam were still allowed to play on the soccer team. Meanwhile, the school sent parents an email about celebrating Unity Day. They urged students to wear orange shirts to show they were against bullying. Deirdre was astounded. Deirdre added that it's important for parents to watch and listen to their children.
Despite all the pain Liam and his family have suffered over the past year, something good has come out of it. Many children and families who have also experienced bullying have reached out to Liam and his family and sent cards and wishes of encouragement. Deirdre continued:
"Liam is truly a wonderful boy. He is kind and he loves his family. We miss him and want him to be home with us. So when you put on that orange shirt, really stand behind what it is supposed to mean. I think we can do more than an orange shirt."
Even though the school has closed its investigation, Deirdre is still fighting to make sure that the same thing doesn't happen to other families. She is telling Liam's story so others can learn from it and avoid a similar outcome.