I'm the one that jumps first and freaks later. But speaking my mind? Finally fessing up to all that was wrong in my life, being a voice for those who hadn't, wouldn't or couldn't? Now that was terrifying.
Today, I ask you to consider how social media platforms are changing the way we interact. To consider the impact that constant access to thoughtless chatter is having on our society and what example our own constant use is setting for our children.
Some have asked how it is possible for a 300-pound pro football player to be a victim of bullying. It's easy to see if you break down the power dynamics.
I'd spent over 10 years playing scenarios of running into TJ in my head, ruminating on how I would confront him as an adult. Still, I was trembling with both fear and anger at the thought of seeing him again.
Those who diminish others to raise their own status can no longer escape criticism because now there's a punitive label attached to it. In the current marketplace, being branded a bully is now taken more seriously in the boardroom, in the bedroom, on the football field in the school classroom.
Teens should stop hiding behind smartphones and plotting to take down their next innocent victims. Bullying is not a joke, whether it takes place in person or behind a keyboard, and it's time for teens to begin acknowledging that.
I wrote to Sia on Twitter and expressed my disappointment. I wasn't expecting a reply, but, to my surprise, she responded and thoughtfully listened, and we proceeded to have a lengthy (by Twitter standards) conversation.
Educators can be allies. They can guide their students in respect for one another's differences. They can make hotlines and resources accessible. And by teaching, loving, and leading each day, they make change.
I recently tumbled across a book trailer for the novel WHEREWOLVES, by John Vamvas and Olga Montes which combines the legendary creature with a high school bullying theme. I caught up with the authors just in time for Halloween.
The bottom line is that if you are old enough to be using social media, you need to be responsible for your conduct -- we're all held to the same standards as digital citizens.
As more parents embrace Facebook, they're driving teens and tweens away as they look for other, more secretive venues that won't be subjected to the same level of parental scrutiny.
The year I went out trick-or-treating dressed as Jane from Daria was the very year that I faced the most bullying and social exclusion from my peers. My experience with bullying in middle school is far from unique.
Few children possess the skills to manage their impulses and regulate their feelings. Yet these skills -- the skills of emotional intelligence -- can be taught. And it is youth aged 12 to 14 who most need to learn it.
What is needed are interventions that understand the problem of LGBTQ bullying as rooted in cultural values, not in individual "bad" children, and that see schools as sites where traditional genders and heterosexuality are valued, rewarded, and given positions of power and prestige.
My mother once said that we must understand where we are coming from in order to better understand who we are in this life. It took me many years to understand what she meant.
We enable today's leading social media providers, the wizards behind the technology curtain, to put our children's safety at risk online by not using our unbeatable superpower: our voice.