'Psychological scars I worry about': father and son duo lend voices to bullying legislation

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Inside the State House, lawmakers will debate the proper punishment for bullies.

One South Carolina T.V. legend is lending his voice to the issue close to his heart. Father Bill Sharpe and his 14-year-old William have testified at the State House. They both now hope a bill will pass, put tough punishments on bullies.

"Okay, let's see what we've got here at noon," Bill Sharpe began his day at work at Live 5 News, WCSC-TV, in the Lowcountry.

His face is widely recognized. Bill Sharpe has been telling stories in his familiar voice for 45 years. Today, he's sharing the spotlight with another. William joined him at work on Wednesday morning.

"You know where we're going. We're going to the car and then we're going to go down to the park," Sharpe explained to his son as they loaded up and headed to a nearby park.

William is becoming more well known for the story the father-son-duo tells together. Hand-in-hand, the pair walk together. Sharpe hopes their voices speak for children and parents across the state.

"Ha! I love you, Daddy," William clung to Sharpe's arm. "I love you too, buddy," they laughed together.

"William is a special needs boy, and Ashleigh, we lost him three times. We were fortunate because the doctors saved his life three different times," Sharpe said.

William has been through a lot, like brain surgery. He's had to use a tube to eat. He has a rare genetic syndrome called Costello Syndrome. William is friendly. He likes to talk a lot.

"And that's good in general, but in his short life, he's been thrown to the floor twice by different bullies. He chipped a tooth, broke it in half, got a bloody lip. He got slapped on the school bus. He got a shoe thrown at him on the school bus," Sharpe said.

Sharpe got angry, then sought solutions. One bill in the State House may solve bullying altogether, he believes. The bill they want to pass would set the way a bully's parents are notified and require them to meet with school staff - or go to counseling.

"Bullying is a terrible problem. From a personal perspective as a parent, you want it stopped and you want it stopped right away," Sharpe said.

The Sharpes hope this can help their family and others.

"But it's the psychological damage, the psychological scars I worry about, not just with William but with all kids who have been bullied," he said.

There's a hearing on that bill H. 4702, in a House committee meeting next week. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Samuel Rivers (R- Berkeley) is hopeful it will progress towards becoming law.

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