Cruel behavior that is left unchecked in young children can lead to permanent habits, and can then snowball into permanent life choices. Children don’t know any better, but adults can help sway this behavior and teach them to know better as they grow up.
Dan Bezzant, from Idaho Falls, Idaho, is a branch manager and avid outdoorsman. Dan is also the very proud father of six children.
Unfortunately, Bezzant and his family learned about the depths of cruelty, ignorance and bullying because of how children, and adults, have reacted to his 7-year-old son, Jackson. Jackson has been the target of merciless and cruel taunting and bullying because of his appearance, as he is afflicted with an appearance-altering disease called Treacher Collins Syndrome.
Treacher Collins Syndrome is a disease that causes the bones of Jackson’s face to remain severely underdeveloped, and the condition has left him nearly deaf, and has also affected his eyesight. He has had several surgeries and will need to have even more as he grows to correct the condition.
Jackson’s peers and classmates responded to his appearance by calling him hurtful, cruel names like, “monster,” “ugly,” and by throwing rocks at him. Bezzant decided to take to social media to reach out and educate the parents of the bullies when he found out the deep extent of Jackson’s daily experiences and that his little boy had even considered suicide.
On Thursday, Sept. 14, Bezzant wrote a heartfelt plea to the parents of Jackson’s bullies, and his greater community, urging them to teach their children understanding and to learn more about children with special needs. Bezzant’s post has received almost 37,000 shares, 38,000 reactions and over 21,000 comments and counting since its recent posting.
Bezzant starts the piece by writing, “My heart is in pieces right now…my soul feels like it’s ripping from my chest.” He goes on to write about how Jackson has expressed that he has no friends, that he feels he is hated and how people push and harass him.
While the treatment that Jackson received from his peers hurts Bezzant, he is most disturbed by the lack of parental guidance that Jackson’s bullies have received. Bezzant addresses parents in his heartfelt Facebook post by saying, “Take a minute to educate your children about special needs…Talk to them about compassion and love for our fellow man…please educate your children.”
The post has generated a lot of goodwill and sympathy for Jackson’s plight. Facebook poster Kelly Wells wrote, “I’m so sorry your sweet boy has to deal with these cruel bullies….. the parents need to educate their children by example! Kindness & acceptance cost $0 but are worth a million bucks!”
After Bezzant posted his letter on Facebook, he learned that there were two other children in his community that had Treacher Collins Syndrome. All the families hope to meet soon for a get together and to form a special playgroup for the kids.
Bezzant’s pleas about acceptance for children with special needs has reached some people, as he has been assured by several parents and their children that they will look out for Jackson when they are around. To bolster his esteem, Bezzant has also set up a snail mail pen pal address for people to send his son letters, which can be mailed to: Jackson Bezzant, P.O. Box 1563, Idaho Falls, ID, 83403.
The father is content that he has shone a light on bullying, helped his son and tried to enlighten others about special needs children. Bezzant said, “I am receiving constant messages of people sending love and prayers for Jackson…All I am asking is that you teach your children about bullying and making sure that kids understand that people are built differently and God loves us all.”