9-year-old bullying survivor shares his story
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- For some students the start of a new school year is exciting, but for others it can be terrifying because of bullying.
One brave boy is sharing his story, in hopes to help other students who are also scared to go to school.
Nine-year-old Gage Simon always posed for his mom's obligatory first day of school pictures but behind his smile was a broken little boy.
"Horrible," Simon described it. "They tore me down physically and it tore my heart down, too."
The bullying started when Gage was just 7 years old.
The bullies not only called him names and would write on his body and clothing, but also physically assaulting him.
Gage's mother, Amber, says her son was assaulted five different times -- one time being slammed into the side of the bus.
"He didn't want to get out of bed, he really went into a deep depression," Amber Simon said. "We were riding in the car and he said, 'Mom, I don't even know why I exist ... I feel like God made a mistake, why am I even here?' "
That was six months ago -- and the start to 9-year-old Gage's homeschooling.
Gage's story was shared on The Bully Project -- a social action campaign inspired by the film BULLY.
Thousands offered words of inspiration for Gage and now he is trying to do the same for others.
His parents say they are finally starting to see the sparkle in his eye again.
"Bullies bully because it makes them feel better than everyone else," Gage said to a crowd of kids.
He's doing everything in his power to stop bullying from happening to others with wise words beyond his years.
"Bullying is just like a disease because you don't make it happen and it does not just go away overnight," Gage Simon said.
Amber Simon says her family has been doing everything to try to help victims of bullying. She has tried to work with delegates to pass legislation to help the issue but she says the funding just isn't there.