Turlock eighth grader Michael Valdez is turning a traumatic experience into a movement for change, as he leads an effort to stop bullying in Turlock.
Valdez, a special needs student at Turlock Junior High School, was attacked after school on Feb. 4 by three youths, who stole his bicycle and his shoes. After the robbery one of the boys started hitting Valdez, while another recorded it.
In response to the incident, Valdez held an anti-bullying bike rally on Saturday at the park near his home and school.
“I wanted to start this event because I wanted everybody to come together and be together for all the stuff that is happening and to stop bullying at schools and anywhere else. It’s just not cool,” said Valdez.
Saturday’s event drew local residents, along with motorcycle and car clubs from across the Valley who wanted to show their support for Michael and his goal to end bullying.
“I didn’t expect there to be this many people. It makes me happy that they came together to be here with me and help stop bullying,” said Valdez.
Michael’s mother Monica Valdez said they plan to host future events to raise awareness of the negative effects of bullying on kids, as well as adults.
“Not only kids bully, adults bully. We want to bring this back; we don’t want it to be a one-time thing. We want to keep it going so people keep it in their minds that it’s not good to bully. If you bully, you show your kids that (bullying is okay),” said Monica Valdez.
Monica said since her son’s incident she’s had people stop her in stores and say “oh, I understand what you’re going through because my daughter went through that.” She hopes that Michael’s experience will also change the way incidents of bullying are handled at local schools.
“If you get bullied and you’re not in school, the school should still take a look at it because what happens is the kid that gets bullied outside school has to go to school where those bullies are at and that’s not fair to them,” she said. “I want the schools to take more action with these kids who are getting bullied on the playground or off the school yard. Just talk to them, because you’re making it so uncomfortable for the kid who is getting bullied and they keep getting bullied.
“I think if it wasn’t for the fact that one of the bullies took a video, then nothing would have been done.”