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Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

Posts Tagged ‘Violence and Abuse

Dalton Lee Walker, 12, Bullying Victim

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On the day the movie “Bully” is released for the public to view comes the sad news out of Princeton, West Virginia of 12-year-old Dalton Lee Walker.  Dalton ended his life Wednesday, March 28th, because of being bullied.

Dalton’s mother says that she had met with school officials on several occasions to discuss the problem of bullying as it pertained to her son.  According to his half-sister, Dalton had been teased regularly at school, and it just became too much for him to handle.

The issue of bullying has caught national, and even international, attention.  That’s a good thing.  However, the problem isn’t going away.  It’s not as if I’m foolish enough to think that it will disappear overnight.  Of course it won’t.  At the same time, I still don’t see where it’s being taken seriously enough by the people who can really make a difference for it to truly start making a difference.

In a day and age where children have instant access to the world 24/7, via Internet, bullying has become a ’round-the-clock phenomena.  Potentially, at least.  And, here’s the most important part of that:  these young people are NOT just witnessing bullying on a personal level, from their attackers.  They’re also seeing it from adults.  That’s devastating on two levels:

  • the kids who bully see the politicians, religious leaders, and other heralded adults doing it, and doing it in a public forum.  It’s like handing a 16-year-old his Driver’s License.  He’s now allowed to drive; they are, by virtue of what they are witnessing on a daily basis, allowed to bully.
  • when at-risk youngsters see these public figures essentially sanctioning bullying through their own actions, it sends them the message that no one is going to give a rat’s ass about them being bullied.  Jacob Rogers voiced such concerns before ending his life in December.

What’s going to make a difference, what’s really going to save these incredibly young people from ending their lives, before their lives even truly had a chance to begin, is a change in the mindset of the adults.  That’s nothing new.  It’s been said here before.  It’s been said in other places, as well.  The change is going to have to start with the adults.  Parents need to stay plugged in to what’s going on with their children; school administrators need to step up their effort a few levels to prevent it, which will entail taking every case seriously; and, our nation’s “leaders” need to either change their rhetoric as to not send the message that it’s okay to hate and be intolerant, or they need to be removed from their positions.

Hatred, meanness, intolerance:  these are not things we’re born with.  Our innate emotion is love…and, acceptance.  Beyond that, those who hate, those who are intolerant, are taught those emotions, either directly or indirectly.  And, most of the time, the “teacher” is an adult.

Dalton’s bullies were not adults:  they were his peers.  Kids at Princeton Middle School who thought is was okay to tease and bully Dalton until he couldn’t take it anymore.

I will note here that there was no reason given for Dalton’s bullying; therefore, we cannot speculate.  It doesn’t matter what he was bullied for.  What matters it that he was bullied, and now he’s gone.   May you now find peace, Dalton.  And, to the family and friends of Dalton, we send our heartfelt condolences and love.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS BEING BULLIED, SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY!!  DON’T STOP SEEKING HELP UNTIL YOU FIND SOMEONE WHO WILL LISTEN AND TAKE ACTION.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE SUICIDAL, PLEASE SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY!!  THERE ARE MANY, MANY RESOURCES AROUND FOR YOU.  

Suicide Support 

STOP Teenage Suicide  

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

We Need Voices, Voices, and MORE Voices!!!!

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In Maryland today, Gov. Martin O’Malley made history by signing into law the same-sex marriage bill.  It goes into effect January 1, 2013.  And, before it even has chance to go into effect, before the first same-sex couple has the chance to tie the knot, the opponents are already in high-gear to get the law repealed.

Over the weekend, 18-year-old Cody Rogers was savagely attacked in a homophobic rage.  The only provocation was that he was who he is:  a gay man.

Stacey Campfield is STILL trying to pass legislation that would effectively legalize discrimination against the LGBT community, putting more LGBT teens at risk.

In that same state, Tennessee, a school principal resigns under pressure after telling gay students that they’re going to Hell!  A SCHOOL PRINCIPAL!!!

Newt Gingrich makes the assinine statement that TEACHERS are to blame for same-sex marriages!!!

ENOUGH!!

Understand that that’s just the short list.  I could go on and on and on ad nauseum.  The point I’m making should be clear:  the atmosphere of hatred and intolerance (and, ignorance) is very far-reaching.  With all of this lack of acceptance, bigotry, and utter ignorance, it’s no wonder we’re seeing so many LGBT teen suicides; it’s no wonder that a Cody Rogers can’t go to a party without fear of being attacked simply because of who he is.  The hatred is being taught by lawmakers, teachers, religious leaders, and in some cases parents.

Just moments ago, I was talking to an 18-year-old LGBT man who is trying to make a difference.  He had a girl he was talking to who was being bullied and wanted help making it stop.  She told her mother.  Her mother didn’t listen.  She told her teacher.  (S)he didn’t listen.  NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION!!!  Yet, as soon as one of these young people take their life, there’s the redundant outcry of “THIS HAS TO END!!”  Damn right this has to end, but what are we doing to make that happen?

People are denying, or attempting to deny, the LGBT community everything from the right to marry the person they love to equal protection under the law.  To be sure, Cody Rogers’ attacker was charged with simple assault for the very brutal and savage beating that Cody endured.  Why?  Because, in Oklahoma, sexual orientation isn’t protected under their hate crime laws.  How is this even possible in this country in 2012!?  Do you want to know how?  I will tell you.  It is possible because we, as a community, allow it to happen.  Plain and simple.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying:  we, the LGBT community, and society as a whole, are making enormous strides in the right direction, which is equality for ALL.  At the same time, it is my opinion that more can be done.  Lots more.

What’s needed is we need to keep increasing our numbers in the battle to win equality, in the war against bullying, and in the attempt to end this plight of LGBT teen suicides.  Since the time I got actively involved, I’ve witnessed amazing growth in numbers, and I’ve seen some great things come from it.  We can never be complacent.  There’s always more to be done.  Why?  Because for every gain we achieve, “they” are lining up to take it away from us.

We need voices, voices, and more voices.  Are you signing petitions when they come around?  Are you speaking out against the hatred and intolerance?  Are you supporting the Cody Rogerses of the world?  That’s what we need.  We need voices.  As the poisoned, culturally crippled faction try to undo everything we accomplish, we need to meet and at least double their numbers.  It would be a travesty of justice, not to mention just plain wrong, if “they” were to win in Maryland and get this new same-sex marriage law reverse even before the first couple gets to marry.  We can make sure that doesn’t happen.  As has been proven over the course of history, and as has been witnessed right here within the community of this very blog, there IS power in numbers.

Listen, we will win this battle.  I have no doubt about that whatsoever.  All around us, culture is changing.  People’s attitudes are changing.  Twenty-five years from now, there will be marriage equality from coast-to-coast and, most likely, around the world.  The social climate towards the LGBT community will have shifted to a point where gay and lesbian teens won’t feel such a sense of hopelessness that they feel they have to end their life.  That’s coming!  I have no doubt about that.  However, in the here and now, we still have plenty of work to do in order to get to that day.  I recall being a young man in San Francisco during the height of the AIDS epidemic there.  I remember watching friends die, literally, on a daily basis.  I became active with a group called ACT-UP.  My bosses were gay, yet they were very annoyed with me for being a part of such a group.  “You’re part of the problem!!!”  I assured them that they were the problem.  See, they had become complacent.  They owned their own successful business.  They had nice homes and enjoyed a fabulous lifestyle.  They had gotten their slice of the American pie, and they were satisfied.  The rest of the world be damned.  Sadly, within the next 6 months, all three of them had succumbed to the very scourge that I laid my body in the middle of the street for in effort to bring more attention to.

Don’t become complacent.  Stay connected; be involved.  We need your voice.

TEENS CAUGHT, CHARGED IN VIDEOED ATTACK!!!!

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Sparked, perhaps, by the inundation of public outcry, and aided by the girlfriend of one of the attackers giving up their names, the Chicago police have arrested the people they believe are responsible for Sunday afternoon’s mauling of a Bridgeport, Chicago high school senior.  One of the attackers is being charged as an adult.  One of the attackers was a girl.

This case is developing more bizarre twists than an old Alfred Hitchcock movie.  The girlfriend of “the main attacker” posted two videos attempting to justify the horrific attack.  At 4:00 deep into the first video, she “reasons” “…in a way, think about it…if you were attacked by 20 people, with you and your sibling alone, how would you feel?  And, in a way, wouldn’t you want to get revenge?  Even if it’s just on one of them?”  Mob mentality at its best.

She speaks often, particularly in the second video, of “another side” of the story, a side where apparently the victim in this attack was allegedly a part of an Asian gang who had earlier carried out an attack on the very ones who attacked him.  It’s mind-boggling to me that we’ve reached this point as a nation.  I don’t understand that gang culture.  I never will.

In some states, videotaping an attack such as the one witnessed here and not doing anything to intervene makes you an accessory to the crime.  Apparently, that’s not the case in Illinois.  Whomever the young man is who did the videotaping should be charged as well, in my opinion.

At the root of this senseless violence, and brutal attack, is racial hatred.  Either way you look at it, it comes back to that.  If the victim WASN’T part of an Asian gang who allegedly carried out an earlier attack on members of the attacking group seen in the video, then it’s purely a racial attack and therefore a hate crime.  Even if he WAS part of this gang, there are still race issues that needs to be addressed.  Quickly.  If it’s all true, then Chicago has a serious race problem on their hands. (or, am I late on that?)  Latinos vs. Asians?  Blacks vs. Whites?  What happened to equality?  How can the girl on camera talk so flippantly about the “FOBS”, or “fresh off the boat”, when she is off foreign decent, herself?  And, while I’m shaking that tree, how can ANY of us living in this country talk about immigrants, legal or illegal, unless we’re of Native American decent?  Other than that group of people, everyone in this country is an immigrant or descendent thereof.

Regardless of what she says in her two “justification” videos, I stand by what I said initially:  this was a very brutal attack, a hate crime, and it should be handled as such.  All of the ones involved, including the camera holder, should be prosecuted to the absolute fullest extent of the law.  One of those kicks to the head, absorbed by the victim, taken at the wrong or a slightly different angle could’ve killed him.  ZERO TOLERANCE.

Written by Ron Kemp

January 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm

BULLYING AT ITS WORST, CAUGHT ON TAPE!!!!

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I first saw a video clip of this earlier in the day, I guess when it first broke.  The video clip was bad enough.  It left me shaking my head.  Livid!!!  However, now I’ve seen the entire video (WARNING!!!  This video is extremely graphic.  DO NOT watch it if you’re at all squeamish) of this brutal, senseless attack on this young man.  Now, I’m beyond livid!

There are videos, and video responses, all over youtube right now.  The video, itself, has been viewed almost 35,000 times.  Even the Mayor has spoken out about it.  And, NONE OF IT MEANS A DAMNED THING!!  The only thing that matters right now is that those 7 thugs are caught and punished to the absolute fullest extent of the law.  I don’t really give a rat’s ass that they’re juveniles:  they need to be sent to an adult prison for many years.  In the state where I reside, their action is called first-degree assault.  And, when you listen to the language their using as they brutalize this young man, it becomes obvious that this is also a hate crime.  Hate crimes are punishable by federal law.  Every single one of the 30,000+ people who have viewed that video, every breathing soul who has watched the story on the news, needs to make sure that their voices are heard loudly and clearly:  THIS ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BE TOLERATED!!!

I looked for a petition online but couldn’t find one.  Hopefully, someone from Chicago will post one on change.org.  When and if they do, I will certain pass that information along so that everyone, EVERYONE!, can go there and sign it.  There absolutely has to be justice done in this case.  Swift.  Definitive.  And, with severe consequences.  More than ever, the cry of ZERO TOLERANCE must apply here.

Written by Ron Kemp

January 18, 2012 at 9:02 am

From Lemons to the Sweetest Lemonade

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I am an administrator on one of the facebook pages set up in honor of Jamie Hubley.  It’s an outstanding community of loving, sharing, and caring.  In that community, I’ve met people who are now very dear to me, people I consider true friends, and people who are more of my family than any of the posers who share my same blood.  Also in that community are many of Jamie’s family members and friends.  I guess that’s what makes it so special.

One of the people in that group is Steph.  Steph and Jamie were friends for 10 years before his October suicide.  Steph is a breath of fresh air.  Being a normal teen, she’s gone through everything that most teens go through, including the bullying.  And, she’s stronger because of it.  So strong, in fact, she’s begun doing motivational speaking in her area to other teens.

Her story is one that will resonate with other young people.  I know it will because tonight, for the first time, Steph shared her story with us.  See, she was getting picked on because of who she is and where she is in life.  Her head sticks just a bit above the crowd.  You know what happens next.  True to form, the verbal tomatoes began to fly.  Rather than wilt under the weight of their criticisms, Steph opted to respond.  She did more than respond.  She knocked the wind straight out of their sails.

Inside “the Jamie community”, which is what it’s called by many, we get a lot of people who are hurting, in one way or another.  Sometimes, it gets really intense as we do have young people within the community who sometimes feel there’s no other way out.  The word is out, though, that this is definitely a go-to spot for people who are in need, young and not-so-young.  There’s never, ever a shortage of people who are there ready to give a listen and help out to the best of their ability.  Never.  And, there’s Steph.  She is always one of the ones who are right there in the thick of it all when things intensify.  She’s truly a remarkable girl, and she’s changing lives.

Life dealt her a lot of lemons from a very early age.  With them, she’s made some of the sweetest lemonade you’ll find anywhere.

California Set to Pass New Anti-Bullying Law

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One-by-one, states around the country are either making new laws or making amendments to existing laws to get a hand on the bullying going on in schools in their jurisdictions.  And, California is set to lead the fray.

California’s AB 9 would make its provisions effective July 1, 2012.  That means it would be in effect for next school year.

A beginning.  There is still more that needs to be done.  It is my opinion that AB 9 doesn’t quite reach the demand for ZERO TOLERANCE, but it’s a step in the right direction.

The bright side of it is that states around the country are finally understanding that more needs to be done.  The laws MUST be made tougher.  The penalties MUST be swifter and stronger.  And, the laws MUST be all-inclusive.  There are still states that are hesitant to add LBGT students under the umbrella of protection.  That is not acceptable.  ALL students are to be protected and, if they’re not, we need to fight like hell to make sure they get the protection they need.

Kudos to you California.

Written by Ron Kemp

January 3, 2012 at 4:50 am

Maryland Jury Rules in Favor of School!!!

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It’s a known fact, for those who pay attention to these kinds of things, that when it comes to court cases, it doesn’t matter what the facts are.  What matters is what can be proven.  A jury in Maryland ruled in favor of the school and school administrators in a high-profile bullying case of a 10-year-old special needs student.  In so doing, they cited that there wasn’t enough evidence to support the claims of negligence on the administrators’ parts.  Shame.  Shame.  Shame.

So, what’s the lesson learned in this case?  Most importantly is that it really doesn’t matter what the facts are, only what can be proven. (just ask O.J. Simpson.  I’m sure he’d agree.)  So, with that said, know that if you’re ever faced with a similar situation, document EVERYTHING!  Take pictures.  Take videos, if possible.  Write, and sign, notes!  Keep a log of all phone calls.  Keep a log of the responses you get during these phone calls.  Leave no stone unturned. See, Ed and Shawna Sullivan didn’t do this.  They didn’t understand the significance of having solid proof.  They didn’t understand the ramifications of NOT doing so.  They thought their word would be enough.  They were wrong.  And, now, because they didn’t know, they will have the task of telling their 10-year-old son that the school administrators got away with not protecting him better.  He won’t understand.  He’s 10.

In a sense, the 10-year-old boy got bullied again yesterday by the legal system. Or, was he victimized by parents who didn’t understand how the system works. As a 10-year-old, what he understands most is that he, and they, lost.

Written by Ron Kemp

December 23, 2011 at 7:10 am

URGENT CALL TO ACTION!!!

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On November 29th, I posted a blog entry about 14-year-old Brittany who’d just attempted suicide and was in ICU.  Brittany not only survived her attempt, she returned to school this past Monday.  And, therein lies the problem.

The bullying returned with her return to school.  More alarming is that the school administrators refuse to do anything to intervene or to end the situation.  REFUSED!!  Brittany snapped at her aggressor(s), and SHE got expelled!!!  There’s nothing right with this case.  The aggressor(s) are getting away with nearly causing someone to kill herself.  The Principal is guilty of neglect at the very least.  Zero tolerance.

So, here’s a call to action!  Since the school in unable to assist Brittany, perhaps taking the story to the media will make them change their mind.  Here are a few of the media outlets in Brittany’s immediate area:  the Huber Heights Courier; WKEF ABC22; WHIO-TV( http://www.whiotv.com); and, the online news link http://www.topix.com/city/huber-heights-oh

LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD!!!  Let’s make sure that Brittany and Crystal Tucker knows that they are not alone in this battle.

Never Quit

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One of the tools necessary for combating this escalating epidemic of bullying and teen suicides is to report every incident.  If your teen is being victimized by bullying, it is imperative that it’s reported immediately.  We’ve learned that, unfortunately, oft-times reporting it to school officials is fruitless.  With the increased and increasing awareness, however, that climate is bound to change.  Regardless, if the immediate school official(s) fail to act, immediately and decisively, then it’s important to go over their head and onto the next level of administrators.  Repeat the process as many times as is necessary to get satisfactory results.  If your own child isn’t being victimized but you and/or your child knows of someone who IS, it’s still just as important.  Adopt a policy of “zero tolerance”.

The statistics for gay teen bullying are staggering.  It’s reported that 9 out of 10 LGBT teens have been bullied because of their orientation.  Nine out of ten!  The report doesn’t even give a statistic for how many of that 90% goes on to commit suicide.  Any number over zero is too many.

But, what if the bullying is occurring at home?  What if the child or teen is being victimized by their own family?  What if the LGBT teen has the misfortune of being born into an intolerant, non-supportive, unaccepting family?  There are ways to deal with that, as well.  Identifying the situation can be hard, but it’s doable.  Knowing your teens’ friends helps.  Being supportive of an at-risk youth can go a very long way.

Remember what’s at stake:  saving young lives.

Written by Ron Kemp

December 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Another Bullycide: Rest in Peace Mason Carter – Age 13

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It’s coming to the point where everyday when you look at your computer screen, there’s yet another story about a young teen ending his/her life because of bullying.  Today is no different.
Mason Carter was 13 years old.  Just 13.  Life hadn’t even begun to unfold for him.  Now, it’s over.  According the Mason’s step-father, he’s positive that bullying played a huge factor in his stepson’s suicide.  Mason was an Honor Roll student and “a brilliant kid”, according to his stepfather.  Tuesday, he was found with a .45 caliber Glock nearby, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
It’s not enough to continue the dialogue about ending the epidemic of bullying and the teen suicides it often leads to.  What’s needed at this very moment in our history is iron-clad action.  We need a plan.  We need action.  Talking about changing things is not working.  Legislating it will do little, although tougher laws and definitive penalties are needed.  It is my strong opinion that we need a total re-education, starting with the adults.  What are we teaching our kids, directly or indirectly, when far too many of them feel that it’s totally ok for them to treat other fellow human beings with such malice and disregard that the victim feel their only recourse, their only escape is to end their lives?
For those who haven’t realized it yet, we’re in crisis mode.  The carnage is piling up by the day.  The time to take action is now.  Sadly, taking action now won’t return Mason Carter to his family and friends.
May you rest in peace, Mason.

Written by Ron Kemp

December 15, 2011 at 6:24 am

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