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How Do We Stop the Bullying Culture?

Five gay teenaged students took their own lives in the month of September.

In Indiana, 15 year old Billy Lucas: "I love my horses, I love my club lambs. They are the world to me."

In California, 13 year old Seth Walsh "was a boy that was sweet, kind, loving."

In Texas, 13 year old Asher Brown, a straight-A student who loved to read.

In New Jersey, 18 year old Tyler Clementi, a gifted violinist.

In Rhode Island, 19 year old Raymond Chase. "We’re sad because it’s late and he’s a stranger, but he’s beautiful and also dead..."

The reasons behind Chase’s death are a mystery, but the other four were all victims of bullying and harassment.

A disturbing pattern emerges from the stories of the first three boys. In all three instances, school officials deny knowledge of the bullying, while parents and/or friends of the students say the school officials knew of the problem, but nothing or not enough was done.

Rather than extend help to Lucas, he was suspended for swearing at girls who were harassing him. He killed himself that evening.

Schools need to understand that combating this culture of bullying goes beyond having a policy on the books. Both faculty and students must be taught what bullying is and how to deal with it.

Tyler Clementi was cyber bullied by his college roommate and his roommate’s friend. They streamed a webcam video of him having sex with another man. The students who broadcast the video are being charged with invasion of privacy and possibly bias-based crime – the hate crimes law in New Jersey.

It brings home the fact that the internet can be used to humiliate people on a level unimagined previously. It means that we as users need to realize that we have a responsibility to respect others’ privacy. It’s one thing to broadcast our own most private thoughts and actions, but we cross a line when we broadcast others’ without their permission.

Internet bullying goes beyond student-on-student, as we know from the story of a mother who pretended to be a young boy who was interested in her daughter’s classmate, then humiliated her to the point that she committed suicide.

Also this:
A Wisconsin man attacks a 14 year old girl

Sadly, it also extends to government officials and their employees.
Senator Saxby Chambliss apologizes to Joe Jervis for gay slur initiated from his office.

Andrew Shirvell, assistant attorney general in Michigan, has been accused of cyber-bullying a college student. His boss, attorney general Mike Cox, defended his choice to keep Shirvell employed, despite the knowledge of the contents of Shirvell’s blog (No, I don’t believe he didn’t know the details of the contents, as he claims. It doesn’t jive with his earlier statements.), citing free speech, and ignoring his office’s own anti-bullying initiative (once again, it’s only on paper, so I guess it doesn’t matter, right?).

Yes, it’s free speech when someone expresses their general belief that homosexuality is immoral, but it’s harassment, bullying and stalking when someone focuses on one person, sits outside his home and tapes him, follows his movements, and puts hateful and unfounded statements about him on a blog.

The student has retained a lawyer and filed for a restraining order against Shirvell.

The timing of the latest news that Shirvell has now taken a leave of absence from his job coincides with the story of Tyler Climente’s suicide resulting from cyber bullying, and with Shirvell’s quest for his 15 minutes of fame for his offenses (nothing like revealing yourself as a tool on national TV) and the numerous resulting phone calls from people upset over the story.

(I hope if Shirvell’s career continues, Mike Rogers will do some sleuthing. The gentleman doth protest too much.)

Regardless of methods, bullying is hurtful, hateful, shameful.

But it’s not just about anti-bullying; it’s about pro-compassion. It’s not just about tolerance; it’s about acceptance of people who are different. You don’t have to agree with someone’s “lifestyle” or religion to coexist, but you have to RESPECT a person’s right to live differently than you have chosen to. We have forgotten how to respect each other.

Kids are taught intolerance by our society, but especially by their parents. Kids whose parents who fail to teach their children respect and acceptance are at a disadvantage when they encounter people who are not like them. And, like a lot of other issues, society, and especially our schools are left to fix what should never have been a problem to begin with. But fix it we must. Or live with the consequences when we fail to act.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 2nd, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
But it’s not just about anti-bullying; it’s about pro-compassion. It’s not just about tolerance; it’s about acceptance of people who are different. You don’t have to agree with someone’s “lifestyle” or religion to coexist, but you have to RESPECT a person’s right to live differently than you have chosen to. We have forgotten how to respect each other.

WORD. People don't need to learn to agree with each other, or even to necesssarily get along, but to be tolerant and respect each other as living, breathing human beings with feelings.
Oct. 2nd, 2010 12:50 pm (UTC)
Your icon says it all.
Oct. 2nd, 2010 11:36 am (UTC)
What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing it. ♥
Oct. 2nd, 2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It's been building with each death I heard about. I couldn't go to sleep last night until I got this out.
Oct. 2nd, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC)
Sickening, and heart breaking. I didn't realize there were so many, where just one is too much.

Judging by the comment threads in some of the stuff I saw on Tyler over the week, there is quite a vein of hate running through our society. I try not to read the threads, but sometimes cannot help it...
Oct. 2nd, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
I guess it's because of the start of a whole new school year, and these poor kids think, "I have to endure nine more months of this?"

Oh, yes, the anonymity of the internet. It's not as anonymous as people think. I've seen investigations into trolls who get called out. Look at the senator's employee who got his ass fired.

People who get off by hurting other people are sick.
Nov. 8th, 2010 07:49 pm (UTC)
Ending bullying starts in the home- If your kid is being bullied, go on down to the bully’s house and kick his dad’s ass, shave her moms hair, whatever. (No of course I’m not being totally serious, but confront THEIR parents and make it clear- If it doesn’t stop, there will be consequences and you’re gonna hate them.)
Nov. 8th, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
Hi, Andy. I recognize you from Join the Impact.

I agree parents have to fight for their kids, but hating them won't help to change anything long term (although it's natural doesn't mean it's right). Hate begets hate.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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