Meanwhile, Liam continues his treatment for his eating disorder and depression. He has a feeding tube and must wear a heart monitor because his heart rate dropped so low from malnutrition, his mom reports. “He is having a tough time. Everyday is a struggle with eating and he is very depressed,” she told TODAY Parents.
“This has really had such an impact on our family. We miss our Liam terribly,” she said. “I don’t want to do anything because we feel guilty he isn’t here.”
Child development expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa told TODAY Parents that bullying is a pervasive issue for children ages 10-16 and can have grave consequences. “Most estimates say that more than a third of children are bullied to the point that they feel hopeless,” she said. “Developing an eating disorder is just one possible dangerous outcome.”
Gilboa encouraged parents to pay attention to any behavior changes in their children and to ask questions if anything seems “off.” “That said, this mom did everything she could and it wasn’t enough — because even great parenting is not enough,” she said. “We need change at every level, from preschool to college, and in every environment — home, teams, school, playgrounds, youth groups, community centers — so that kids will learn that it’s safer to speak up than to keep silent.
“Bullying will always occur; our job as adults is to minimize it and to keep paying attention to it, even when we’re not sure what we should be doing,” said Gilboa.