(This story was corrected on Jan. 22 to reflect Shane Jeffreys' physical condition.)
Thursday, Jan. 16 — An otherwise ordinary day in gym class changed the course of Shane Jeffreys’ life in one gruesome moment.
Jeffreys was punched in the right temple from behind by a bully. The blow led to a fractured skull, a blood clot in his brain and a stroke, which placed him in a coma for a month. When he emerged from the hospital, he was like a newborn child. He struggled to relearn how to function.
Twenty years later, Jeffreys still faces daily physical challenges. But he's spreading his story about the dangers of — and lack of consequences for — bullying. Doing so is a therapeutic exercise for him, he said.
“Bullying almost ended my life,” Jeffreys said in an interview this week. “I went through hell.”
His efforts include a book, “End It Now,” and the website, hatesnotcool.com.
The book impacted Lansing Eastern High School teacher Susan Schmidt, who met Jeffreys at a book fair in Ann Arbor. She believed the book would also resonate with her students.
“It really has a voice that I think high-schoolers can relate to,” she said. After introducing it to the class, the students corresponded with Jeffreys over email.
Today, he met with the class in person. The students appeared attentive and connected well with Jeffreys, as several admitted to having been bullied themselves. He urges all students he visits to speak out, recognizing that they’re often scared to tell adults that they’re victims of bullying.
“If you tell, you are not a tattletale, you are a hero and a better person. Bullying makes you a coward and a criminal,” he said.
Schmidt agrees. She believes that teachers need to be someone who students can trust to listen and to respond to the bullying.
“People are often silent and sit by because they don’t want to be the next victim,” she said. “Talk to somebody. Tell someone you trust.”
Jeffreys and Schmidt also agree that the consequences for bullying are not severe enough and that bullying has gotten worse.
Schmidt called it an “insidious” activity and difficult to monitor.
“The difficulty is that we as teachers and administrators (only) know one-tenth of what goes on,” she said.