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Marlise Karlin Headshot

Band-Aids on Bullying Can't Stop Suicide

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If we want kids to stop bullying, we have to get to the core issue -- otherwise we are just putting another Band-Aid on a gaping wound that is sweeping across the United States and many countries around the world.

You can't recognize the value of another human being if you don't recognize your own. Too simplistic? Impossible to heal?

We want answers that will make this problem go away fast. That's like going to a hospital with a ruptured artery, hoping they can take care of it with a few bandages so we can get home in time for dinner.

Cycles of pain don't end or stop overnight, ask any member of an alcoholic's family. First you have to become conscious that there is a problem -- if you ignore it, you will soon find that drinking has either taken over other members of your family or has become your best friend. The odds for not continuing the cycle are stacked against you.

Does this mean that kids who bully are being raised in families by parents who bully? Some are and some aren't. Today kids get more pressure from their peers -- than anyone else -- to be cool, to fit in and to do whatever is necessary to prove that you do. That's why we are seeing the extreme lengths bullies are going to without concern or recognition of the consequences of their actions.

As in the case of Tyler Clementi, the college student who jumped off a bridge to end his life, when a roommate hid a webcam in their room, and streamed him having sex with a partner. As reported recently on Anderson Cooper 360 on "CNN," the cruelty of this act is beyond comprehension regardless of whether it was gay sex or straight. Who wouldn't feel violated by such an invasion of privacy?

I understand these issues on a very personal level. My father verbally and physically bullied me as a teen. While my shame was private, what I find even more disturbing in today's technological world is that abuse has become public through cyber-bullying, blog posts, and intimidation through texting and threatening photography through the instant access of cell phone reporting.

I spent years of my life replaying the humiliating words and debilitating actions of my father in the tape recorder of my mind. Think what this does to your feelings of self-worth. How many kids are dealing with these issues today? The Youth at Risk and the LGBTQ Foundations are bursting at the seams in every state and growing daily filled with kids who don't have tools to deal with the intense situations in their homes and at school.

Over the last seven years I have seen kids find a core of strength within them that gave them a greater understanding of their true value -- so much so, they began to assist others to find that knowing within as well.

Stillness gets to the root of the problem, not by telling you that you are valuable, but by awakening that knowledge at a level where you experience it. Scientific studies have shown us that we believe what we observe and experience -- more than any theory or logic. Which is why telling your child that they really are wonderful people is not the answer -- at the end of the day, do they believe it? It just won't do the trick.

I have also seen tremendous change in adults who admitted they had been bullies. Once they found what we all have in common beyond our differences, they became advocates for stillness and for teaching others how it's possible to have respect for all humankind.

When we go beyond the surface to the core of our greatest intelligence, which lies at the heart of stillness, no one has to tell us to value another -- it comes naturally because we have connected to the basic tenets of what it is to be human.

I have seen extraordinary change take place for victims and abusers when they incorporated this simple practice into their lives. Maybe we are nearing a time when true change can happen -- as we are certainly recognizing the need now more than ever before. Maybe we have become open to looking for new solutions as we observe the tragedies of our time.

Once we recognize the value we have to offer each other and experience it within ourselves, the possibilities are endless.

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