Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's up to us: what will we do about bullying?

Today's post was written by my 16 year old daughter. Please read it, I think she has something important to say. xoxo T.

Tyler Clementi.

Asher Brown.

Seth Walsh.

Justin Aaberg.

Raymond Chase.

William (Billy) Lucas.

You might not have heard these names. These are all boys who committed suicide in the last few months after being bullied due to their sexual orientation. Who knows what they felt? Alone, ostracized? Like life wasn't worth living. Like they didn't matter? Their acts of desperation could have gone unnoticed. Thing is, we saw. The internet saw. First one, then another, then hundreds, then thousands of people took a stand. In their own way, everyone said that these boys…and so many like them…matter.

Then, the internet spoke. (Well, it didn't really. It's inanimate. Go with me here, I'm making a point.)

It started with an idea.

Social media spread the idea to quite literally thousands of people.

The idea was simple: wear purple (the color of spirit on the LGBTQ flag) on October 20, 2010 in memory of those boys, and for all the other kids out there who may feel the same way.

So today, I wore purple. To my surprise, there were other kids in my (conservative Christian) class who wore purple. Not to mention the thousands of people all around the world. Teachers, parents, talk show hosts. We took a stand against bullying, against the idea that what happened to these boys was okay.

Bullying is common now. Before, insults were thrown in front of a class, maybe twenty people. Now, cyber bullying is the norm. Hateful anonymous comments, bringing down the person in front of everyone on the internet...whole schools. But kids will be kids, right? They need to suck it up. Learn to ignore it. A common answer to the problem, and not a solution.

But you know what?

I think it's going to be my generation that changes it. We know social media. Some of us communicate mostly through email, facebook and texting. We get how to make a difference. And we do. My generation will be the one that steps up and says it isn't okay.

It isn't okay to make fun of someone. To discriminate based on age, or race, or sexual orientation or disability or intelligence or anything else.

It isn't okay to have an Us vs. Them mentality.

It isn't okay to talk about how loving God is and then hate anyone who is different.

It isn't okay.

And when that happens, when we step up…it will change.

In 1983, D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) was founded. It has changed lives. Imagine what it could be like if there was a similar approach to bullying. In one generation, D.A.R.E made drugs uncool. Nearly every school age kid knows what the red ribbon means. If something similar could be accomplished for bullying...imagine what could happen.

Hate is learned and we need to lead by example. The things we learn in kindergarten can affect the rest of our lives. If we start from the bottom and work up, we can change hearts. If we could show from the beginning that bullying isn't okay...just imagine it.

If we change the mindset behind bullying, imagine how drastically different our world might be.

It's going to start with us.

Now, don't just imagine it. Let's make it a reality.

7 sent chocolate:

Adoption of Jane said...

Awesome girl your mama raised!!! I did where purple and so did my mom!! I forgot 1/2 way through the day and changed my shirt... then I remembered when I saw my mom!!

I have to agree with you about your generation changing. I am really proud of this generation. My son has white, black, mexican, asian, and a few kids god only knows what they are mixed with as friends. Straight, Gay, whatever he's a great kid and totally comfortable with his Sexually. Which of course is probably easier because he's straight. But, to be a straight male and not care if your friend is gay is big too! I just love this generation and I tend to roll my eyes when people complain how much kids talk back and are rude these days. Yes there will always be some smart mouths in the group but overall you guys just stick up for yourselves and if people listen you truly have some amazing things to say! Such as the awesome article you wrote here.

You Rock, Your Mom Rocks, and Your Generation ROCKS!!!

Adoption of Jane said...

oops wear not where purple... don't judge me.. i'm an old lady, lol!

Lisa Russell said...

I agree with your daughter so completely. I really do think social media is a tool that will be used for peace- it helps busy people connect on a deeply personal level. No one needs to be alone and you really can't pretend (for long) that your unfounded opinions are facts. The social playing field has changed and this generation will definitely make a difference. great job, Tina :)

routerguy said...

To say that it's your generation that's going to effect change seems disingenuous given the fact that it's your generation doing the bullying. The bullies, and their victims are your classmates and your peers. Pontificating about it via blogs or social media is an noneffective way of addressing the problem. The DARE program you mention illustrates this quite well. We've now had three generations go through similar programs ("just say no" DARE, etc.) with little or no reduction in teen drug use. It's not a lack of knowledge that's the problem, it's the actions and choices of the individuals.

Tony Letts said...

Wow - what a great young person you have there :)

Carolyn said...

Your daughter is a wonderful writer!

Sarah Hoffman said...

This was an absolutely fantastic post. I'm going to share it on facebook and with my readers, since we've been talking a lot about how to end bullying. But my kids are young, and we've been focused on what parents and teachers can do. You've spoken the truth: it's your generation who will make the difference! You have our wholehearted support and we have your backs. You go, girl!!!

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