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14-year-old writes letters seeking help, gets one surprising answer

Fourteen-year-old Amanda Crawford is a good student. She makes good grades; she doesn’t cause trouble; she’s respectful of other people. But this past year, life at school in upstate South Carolina has been almost unbearable at times.
So she told her mother, Vickie Crawford, she wanted to ask for help. She wrote four letters: to the president, to a U.S. senator, to a congressman and to a governor.
On Friday, June 3, her mother got a phone call.
“This is Nikki Haley,” the caller said.
Nikki Haley is the governor of South Carolina.
“She asked me if I was aware that my daughter had written her a letter,” Vickie Crawford said. “I told her, yes, I knew about the letter.”
The governor said she’d like to speak to Amanda and then meet with her later on. She wanted to help. “I’m a mom,” she told Vickie, “and that letter broke my heart.”
Amanda and the governor talked on the phone for about 10 minutes. And then on Wednesday, June 8, Amanda and her mother drove to Columbia, S.C., to meet with Gov. Haley. They talked about bullying in schools.
Haley — this powerful, self-assured governor who once was mentioned as a possible Republican vice presidential candidate — said she could relate to Amanda’s problem. As a child, she had been a victim of bullying.
Amanda sat on a couch in the governor’s office and talked about what had been going on. Nearly all year long, she said, perhaps because she is quiet and shy, she has been verbally bullied at school. Sometimes it was physical. She has been shoved into a wall, hit in an eye and on the back of her head, shoved in her back. When the bully finally was suspended, her friends continued the verbal abuse, the name-calling, the death stares.
The governor asked Amanda what she wanted to do. “I told her I wanted to be the voice of everyone who wouldn’t come forward, for people who were bullied,” she said. “I just wanted it to stop. …”
So the governor of South Carolina and this quiet 14-year-old came up with a plan: They’ll go on the road in the fall, the two of them speaking about bullying at schools across the state, telling students that it’s all right to snitch on bullies. Amanda’s school will be visited first.
Through it all, Amanda said, “God has been on my side. … My life verse is Ecclesiastes 3:11: ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time.’” But she was getting depressed, even with her faith, even with the support of her parents, Stanley and Vickie. So she told the governor in her letter that she could understand why kids who have been bullied sometimes kill themselves.
But now, things are looking up. Amanda has God, she has her parents, and now she has the governor, who has her back.
When the governor called, Amanda said, “I felt that someone really cared. I felt like something was actually going to be done.”

Phil Hudgins’ column is published in many newspapers around the Southeast.