(WBIR-Knoxville) The topic of bullying, and a conversation about how to stop it, took center stage in Knoxville on Thursday night.
Knoxville Police Department (KPD) hosted a town hall called, "Take a Stand Against Bullying" at South College in West Knoxville. It also aired on WBIR.
Keynote Speaker Kirk Smalley shared the story about the loss of his son, Ty Smalley. It was featured in the documentary "Bully."
Ty, 11-years-old at the time, committed suicide in 2010.
Ty was suspended from school after retaliating against another student who had been bullying him for more than two years. Him mom, Laura Smalley, asked him to do his homework and chores.
"She found out that my baby didn't do his homework and that he hadn't done his chores. Instead, he'd killed himself on our bedroom floor," Kirk Smalley said.
Shortly after Ty's death, a group of students formed "Stand for the Silent." It is a chance for the Smalleys to tell Ty's story and raise awareness about bullying. In the last 18 months, Kirk has visited 837 schools and spoke to more than 800,000 kids.
"I made a promise... it was on Father's Day. I promised Ty that day that I was going to stop bullying in this world... I don't break promises to my boy," Kirk said.
Many students in Knoxville can relate to Ty's story.
Andres Trabal was verbally and physically bullied throughout elementary and middle school because he's Hispanic.
"It just made me feel really bad, really separated from everyone else. I don't know. It made me feel different. It made me feel like I needed to change to fit in with the crowd," Trabal said.
Trabal decided to try homeschooling when he reached high school. He's now in 11th grade.
"I really just didn't want to deal with it anymore and I knew high school would be a lot worse," he said.
Trabal said he attended the town hall because he wants to help others who have been bullied.
The second half of the town hall included a panel of speakers, who addressed the community's questions on bullying.