Kalih’s Way

“Am I wrong for being concerned about the safety of a child?”

I was shocked at what a 29-year old mother had said to me. After hearing about her son’s suspension I asked Shae how her son, Kalih, was doing. I was worried about the well-being of his mental health. “You’re always worried about the kids…that’s all you want to talk about,” were Shae’s negative words. It was unbelievable.

It was about a month ago when Shae’s 11-year old son, Kalih, was suspended from school. According to his teachers, Kalih told another 5th grader that he was going to bring a gun to school. After I spoke with Shae, she explained to me that Kalih was being bullied by one of his peers. Because Kalih was in a state of fear, he told a student that he was going to bring a gun to school. Kalih never mentioned what his intentions were, he just said he was going to bring a gun to school. Kalih took matters into his own hands. So every day following Kalih’s suspension, I called to check up on him.

With the rise of mass school shooting in America, it was a surprise that Kalih didn’t get expelled. The United States has a gun-violence epidemic. As of date, there are more guns than citizens in our country. 111,551 people are shot each year on average. In 2021 there were over 650 mass shootings and 28 school shootings. (Robyn Thomas, Giffords Law Center) Having said that, what adult wouldn’t be concerned for Kalih, or any child for that matter?

Bullying is a big force that drives a child to resort to gun violence. The victim, who is a child, is living in fear with a yet-fully developed brain. Despite having a supportive parent at home, the average bullied child doesn’t know what to do or what to say. Why?

In Kalih’s case, he was a scared boy who didn’t know who to go to or what to say. Given his mother’s response to me, I can understand if Kalih felt like his mother wouldn’t have taken his SOS seriously. To be clear, I am not insinuating that Shae’s nonchalant attitude may have left Kalih feeling like he had to resolve this issue on his own. Which under no circumstances should be an option for a child; a child should never feel alone. However, if we (adults) don’t establish a solid tell-me-anything relationship with our youth, Kalih won’t be the last child to attempt to or to bring a gun to school because he’s afraid of a bully.

In retrospect, I strongly believe that Kalih’s suspension could’ve been prevented. I didn’t know Kalih before his school suspension; however, if there was an adult in Kalih’s life whom he trusted to tell things to, the young bully would’ve been held accountable. Kalih would’ve never gotten suspended, as he would’ve never felt the need to make a gun threat. The bully problem would’ve been addressed and resolved.

How do you feel about Kalih’s story?