Dan Bezzant, an Idaho father, whose 7-year-old son has a rare condition that disfigured his face, wrote a heart wrenching plea on Facebook asking parents to educate their children about the effects of bullying. His son’s torment has even led the second-grader, Jackson, to talk about suicide.
Bezzant explained that the schools administration’s efforts to stop his son from being bullied have not been enough. On September 14, Bezzant took to Facebook to express his anguish and frustration after older kids in school called Jackson a “monster” as they had breakfast in school.
Bezzant, 42, told PEOPLE: “I just broke down sitting in my car and crying my eyes out, not knowing what to do. I wrote the post as a plea for parents to educate their children and be aware of this issue. It was a desperate moment, and I couldn’t even go in the house. This has been going on a while, and it’s been an accumulation of things that just destroyed me — it still chokes me up.”
He explained that Jackson had Treacher Collins syndrome, which affects the development of a person’s facial bones and tissues. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, people with this condition can have eyes that slant downwards, a notch in the lower eyelids, and hearing or vision loss because of other developmental abnormalities. An estimated 1 in 50,000 people are affected by this condition.
Bezzant explained in the post that Jackson was convinced that everyone hated him because he was called a “freak” and “ugly” at school almost on daily basis. Some children even threw rocks at him. This treatment has caused Jackson, who turned 8 on September 28, to start talking about suicide.
Bezzant said: “Jackson has expressed those feelings before, and in the last few of months, he has said it a few times. That’s what broke me down the most. He shouldn’t have to feel that way—no one should have to feel that way just because they’re different.”
He explained that school officials have done a great job of looking out for Jackson to ensure he is safe, but parents need to contribute. Teachers and aids cannot shadow Jackson every moment of the day, leading bullies to strike around corners and out of view.
“I just want parents to take a lead role,” he said. “They need to sit their children down and teach them we’re all created equal, and everybody is different. We need to approach this with love and understanding.”
The post garnered over 41,000 shares and 14,000 likes, with people messaging him asking to be Jackson’s friend. Despite the attention, Bezzant maintained that he didn’t want the focus to be on those with Treacher Collins, expressing that bullying was rampant everywhere, and to people with many conditions.
He said, “Bullying is a huge issue, and it needs to stop. No one should have to feel like they want to kill themselves because they’re not like everybody else. It’s horrific, and I don’t want anyone to experience that.”