Tori Spelling's son Liam became a victim of cyberbullying when bodyshamers criticized the 12-year-old's looks.
Spelling's husband, Dean McDermott, 52, was especially outraged when he discovered Liam found the horrible comments about his weight online.
The boy asked his father:
"Dad, am I obese?"
McDermott launched into a tirade on his podcast, Daddy Issues with Nicky Paris and Adam Hunter, that centers on discussions concerning parenthood, infidelity, and sex.
The program, which launched earlier in June, also covers social media topics and online trolling.
McDermott and Spelling have four other children – Stella, 11, Hattie, 7, Finn, 6, and Beau, 2.
In response to Liam's question, the actor and chef said on his podcast:
"I said, 'Look buddy — there's some sick people in the world … and they need to do stuff like this. They need to say bad things about people.'"
He also told Liam that the comments were a reflection of the people who wrote them.
McDermott continued telling his preteen:
"'Think about it, son. You have a busy life. You have school, you got sports; do you think you have time to go on Instagram, scroll through the people that you're following, and make a negative comment about somebody?'"
"'No, you don't. You don't, and if you did, you'd fill your time with something else. So think about how sick these people are that they have to do that.'"
@people Really respect the way Dean handled that with Liam. People who body shame kids are scum of the earth.— mona lisa vito (@mona lisa vito) 1561664493.0
On January 17, Spelling posted a picture of her family with her former Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star Ian Ziering's family at a screening of A Dog's Way Home.
Hours after the post, however, comments about the kids' appearance flooded the thread, with one user describing the kids looking like they "feed and clothe themselves."
McDermott fired back in the post after negative comments were made about his family.
"I am absolutely horrified and disgusted by the comments being left about my children. Body shaming and bullying my children??!! What is wrong with you people??!!"
"For your information, we went from a long day at school to the movie. And I don't know any child that is NOT disheveled at the end of the day. Not to mention that just before this picture was taken, they were wrestling and running around with all the other kids that were at the movie."
"So I apologize we didn't get the iron and steamer out to make them perfect for you. [They're] kids. They're messy and dirty. That's what they do."
Target got a low-key endorsement while McDermott reminded critics that his unruly but lovable bunch are still kids.
"And what's wrong with shopping at Target??!! Over half of America shops there. The way they grow out of clothing so quickly is astounding. Are we supposed to shop at Gucci?? These are kids folks. Messy stinky little bundles of fun, laughter and love."
Fortunately, not everyone on social media wastes their time and energy making derogatory remarks about other people.
@people That is so wrong. Please tell him he is a handsome young man, and not to let others define him. And the bes… https://t.co/tMXBLmY4NC— elaine prince (@elaine prince) 1561664574.0
One frustrated parent suggested minors should have no access to the internet for reasons like this.
@people People need to leave kids alone.— Rob! (@Rob!) 1561673588.0
@people Body shaming and criticizing kids is deplorable. They didn’t choose the life they have. They didn’t choose… https://t.co/7iNWpgVbnx— Amanda Greer (@Amanda Greer) 1561674375.0
Plenty of users offered support.
@people Tori your children are Beautiful. 🥰✝️ People need to stop the nonsense!— carrie Conlin (@carrie Conlin) 1561667825.0
@people Shame on internet trolls for bullying a child about their appearance!! You are perfect Liam!!!!— mamache (@mamache) 1561681559.0
@people The people who hide behind social media to shame anyone, especially children are truly one of humankind's lowest forms.— Lanie Easto (@Lanie Easto) 1561669808.0
Spelling, 46, confronted social media trolls back in September after she posted a picture of her kids getting ready to go back to school.
Her children were disparaged with comments like:
"They're looking somewhat disheveled and not entirely happy on their first day of school."
"The kids are fat. Fat isn't healthy."
In the post's thread, the Beverly Hills, 90210 star faced off with the bullies.
"I am a proud mama bear and I enjoy sharing our family journey with my family, friends, fans and online supportive and loyal community."
"For all the individuals on here that felt the need to #momshame and #kidshame me and my children I say 'Shame on you!' I was raised to believe that if you can't say anything nice about someone then don't say anything at all."
If trolls think they can come after the McDermott's and their kids, they got another think coming.
Bullying has increased since the advent of social media, and it can take a huge emotional toll on kids and teens who have access to the internet. No longer is harassment exclusive to being at school playgrounds.
While it is difficult for a parent to have awareness about their kids' social media engagement, it is important to stay involved. Unlike Liam, most kids will not come forward to tell an adult about being cyberbullied for fear of feeling too ashamed or of consequences.
Kidshealth suggests telling your kids that being bullied is not their fault, and to let them know that "bullying says more about the bully than the victim."
Kudos to McDermott for knowing what to say and being there for his son.
Parents could get involved with their community to help prevent bullying. You can find out more information on how you can help spread the message that all forms of bullying are unacceptable by visiting StopBullying.org.
The book JOY AND DREW DEAL WITH BULLYING: TEACHING OUR CHILDREN ABOUT BULLYING INCLUDING CYBERBULLYING is available here.