Letters to Santa, fueled by the whims of childhood, often include things that won’t fit under the tree … ponies, two front teeth, an astronaut suit and trip to the moon. But when North Carolina mom Karen Suffern asked her 8-year-old fraternal twins to jot down their requests for old Saint Nick, son Ryan’s wish was for something far more profound than a new bike. He forfeited his dream of a remote-control car and helicopter and instead asked Santa to help stop the bullying of his sister, Amber.
The letter from the best brother ever reads:
My mom said to send you a Christmas list. I wanted a remote control car and helicopter but I do not want that anymore. Kids at school are still picking on Amber and it is not fair because she does not do anything to them and it makes me mad. I prayed they would stop, but God is busy and I need your help. Is it against the rules to give up gifts early? Can you ask Big Time Rush to come to Amber's birthday party? It will make her so happy. If you do not get them to come that is fine, just get her everything she asked for.
PS - My mom throws the best birthday parties. You can come if you want.
Although it may seem early to be writing letters to Santa, the financially struggling single mom was hoping to get a head start on budgeting for gifts.
It was a tough letter for Suffern to read, CNN reports. "I try to build up my daughter's self-esteem and tell her she is beautiful, but people say hurtful things to me, because I also have a weight problem, and that hurts me," she said. "I can't imagine what she goes through."
Suffern had a vague suspicion that Amber was teased on the bus en route to Rocky Mount Preparatory, but she had no idea of the extent of it. Amber, who has attention-deficit disorder and other mental and mood disorders, never mentioned the teasing.
But Ryan revealed that the bullying was being dished out beyond the bus; Amber was being laughed at in gym class, teased about her weight in general, and told that she must be adopted because she is multiracial.
After reading the letter, Suffern showed it to friends and posted it on the Facebook page of Tony Posnanski, who shares stories of inspiration, weight loss and life advice.
With several recent incidents of teen suicides due to bullying, as well as with parents extra sensitive to the subject with the beginning of a new school year, the letter has gone viral.
Several studies have concluded that as many as one in four children is bullied. And a study released this week in the journal Pediatrics finds an association between being bullied and psychosomatic problems – mental issues that can lead to physical distress.
Suffern says that Ryan's letter brought the problem to her attention, and she intends to bring it up with school staff and the parents of the children involved.
"If my kids don't call names and pick on others, I would expect other parents to teach their kids to be respectful, too," she said.
And if not, we surely hope to hear about an abundance of coal delivered on Christmas morning to the bullies of Rocky Mount Prep.
Related stories on MNN:
- How to tell if your child is being bullied
- Bullied teen has last laugh on Homecoming night
- Dear Bully: 70 authors' personal bullying stories