Adults often underestimate children's ability to grasp the heart of a concept -- or run with an idea of their own -- but we're wrong. They're a lot smarter and more take-charge than we think. We're seeing that ability take hold now with bullying.
A girl at my school started a "compliments" Facebook page, in which compliments that anyone submits about anyone else can be posted anonymously. In the first night, over 70 were posted!
Often, our public discourse regarding the need to end bullying centers around the assumption that children are only bullied at school. That assumption couldn't be further from the truth.
This blog is my way to share with you the one project that I feel is the most important one of my life: The Bully Chronicles. The film will feature real teens, teachers, and parents. For the first time, the story will be told from the bully's perspective.
Many legislators and school-safety advocates have demanded "zero tolerance" for bullies. But as founder of Gay-Straight Alliance Network, a national organization that empowers students to create safer schools for LGBT youth, I can tell you there's a better way.
I waited for the old man to tell me I was nuts. He looked at me and said, "Maybe I am too old to change. Maybe your son and my grandson will be able to make things better."
Our schools must help children learn tolerance and respect for one another, so that no child leaves school with the fear that they will be attacked for their differences, and no child grows up believing it's OK to marginalize or discriminate against others.
The Darnell "Dynasty" Young case is just one example of LGBT students and their parents feeling the need to find a solution to bullying when a solution is not being offered by public school administrations. Situations like Darnell's are not uncommon.
Bullying must not be seen as simply a "youth problem" but as resulting from larger societal issues. Institutional bullying and harassment do not exist within a vacuum but reflect and actually reproduce the messages and actions stemming from the social environment.
Based on my reading of the law, not only was Darnell's mother, Chelisa Grimes, right to provide her son with the means to defend himself against the initiation of force against her son by bullies, but Darnell was right to use that force to reasonably protect himself.
How do we get teachers nowadays to feel a sense of responsibility that wouldn't allow them to turn a blind eye to vicious acts bullying?
I remember with clarity the day my daughter "discovered" the internet.
Bullying is a problem in our culture. It's going to be hard to create a law that demands that people be nice to each other. I believe that like all cultural changes, this one needs to start in our own homes.
Bullying can happen in various forums and to individuals of all ages. Those without a voice, children, teenagers, the physically and mentally challenged, and the shy and timid are all vulnerable and in need of protection.
The film offers our youth nothing but a painful look at what they already see and feel almost daily. It poignantly highlights to young people how invisible their lives can be to adults, and just how unsupportive and inattentive adults can be.