If you’ve ever been bullied before, you know how much it can damage your self-esteem. You know how anxious you get when you spot your bully from across the way, whether it be on your school campus, at your place of work, or even at your local shopping mall. And you also know how painful it can be to have horrible things said and done to you for no apparent reason. No matter how many blessings we have, the negative effects we receive from being bullied sometimes seem to overpower everything good we have going on in our lives.
However, if you’ve never been bullied, it’s difficult to understand how awful it truly can be. Randy Smalls, a father from South Carolina, knows how it feels as he was bullied growing up, but his daughter, Re’Onna, didn’t quite empathize as she eventually became a bully herself. When Randy heard from the school that his daughter had been bullying another girl at school for being “poor” and “unfashionable,” he knew he had to step in and make things right.
The father came up with the perfect plan. Rather than taking his daughter on a shopping spree the following weekend, he would be taking her victim, Ryan Reese, shopping instead. This way, 13-year-old Re’Onna would be negatively reinforced for her bad behavior while the innocent girl his daughter bullied would be rewarded.
So, Ryan and her mother, along with Re’Onna’s father, headed off to the shopping mall where he spent hundreds of dollars on the victim. Even Re’Onna was forced to tag along. At first, Re’Onna was angry at her dad for the punishment he chose, but in the end, she understood it was the right thing to do and eventually apologized to Ryan.
“After it all happened, I’m glad that we did this because she needed that help,” Re’Onna admits.
Re’Onna also got a chance to talk to her victim, finding out things that they have in common. But to her dismay, she found out that Ryan recently lost her grandfather, father, and aunt. So, the entire time Re’Onna was bashing Ryan for her “embarrassing” apparel and “low socioeconomic class,” little did she know that she was hurting a girl who had already gone through so much heartbreak and had been suffering from depression. It goes to show that you never really know what someone is going through until you actually get to know them.
In my opinion, I think Randy had the perfect reaction. Not only did he teach his daughter a much-needed lesson, but he helped lift the bully-victim in the best way he thought possible. A shopping spree and an apology from the bully may not erase all the bad things Ryan has had said or done to her, but it certainly could have given her the closure she needed to forgive the bully and move forward with her life on a positive note.
Thankfully, the punishment appeared to work. Re’Onna told her father that she’d never bully again. Hopefully, she will instead gravitate towards helping people in any way she can while remaining humble for the things that she is lucky to have.
Learn more about the story by listening to an interview with Re’Onna, Randy, Ryan, and Ryan’s mother, Richauna.