Yes, normal and acceptable, tolerance is taught at home and reaches into our communities. South Florida has been the battleground of bullying and school violence and it has to stop.
For many years, kids were bullied because their behavior or appearance was perceived by the bully to be different. Now, bullying children who are gay, lesbian, trans-gender or bi-sexual has become more flagrant. The National Center for Transgender Equality reports that of 6,500 people surveyed, 51 percent attempted suicide because of bullying.
Currently, approximately 160,000 children stay at home from school each day because of bullying. It also seems to be socially acceptable to bully anyone who is different, and that includes children who are overweight, underweight or disabled.
Bullying has also encroached on the Internet.
According to Pacer’s National Center for Bullying Prevention:
- 42 percent of children and teens have been bullied on line, one in four more than once;
- 35 percent of children have been threatened on line, one in five more than once; and
- 58 percent of children admit someone has said mean or hurtful things on line, four out of ten more than once.
Things we can do to stop bullying:
1. Facebook has a “Report” button so you can report bullying. You can also block the sender. Don’t add a friend you don’t know.
2. Report bullying. Telling is not tattling. If the teacher does not listen, go to the principal, the district, etc. until you are heard. Remember, the bully relies on fear and intimidation to keep his threats secretive.
3. Keep a record of the bullying, including the location, the bully’s name, and any witnesses.
4. Some great resources are:
- Teens Against Bullying
- The Bully Police
- Pacer National Center for Bullying Prevention,
- GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends & Lesbians and Gays
If you have seen bullying or have been bullied, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. The American Civil Liberties Union can also address the rights of a child or teen who has been bullied.
6. If you are feeling suicidal, call:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-TALK (8256) (24-hours)
- The Gay Lesbian Bi-Sexual & Transgender National Hotline: (888) THE-GLNA
- The Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386 (24-hours)
Common sayings: “Boys will be boys,” “Girls aren’t bullies,” “Words can never hurt,” “It’s only teasing,” “Kids deserve bullying,” or “Kids need to toughen up,” are not true. Billy Lucas, age 15, Justin Aaberg, age 15, Tyler Clementi, age 18, Asher Brown, age 13, and Seth Walsh, age 13, recently killed themselves because of bullying. No one deserves to be bullied.