ronkempmusic

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

Posts Tagged ‘Adolescence

Ignoring It Doesn’t Make it Go Away

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I read story after story, comment after comment about how some teen was bullied, they report the incident to the proper authorities, only to have it treated as it’s a non-issue.  Too many suicides have resulted from this.

In one high-profile case recently, a spokesman from the local Sheriff’s department went on record as saying that despite media and online reports of the teen’s suicide being a result of bullying, their “investigation” concluded that “that was not the case”.  Yet, my own personal contact with someone very close to the family and the situation told me exactly the opposite.  And, of course, it was later made know that bullying was, indeed, at the root of the suicide.  This wasn’t the first instance.  In the trailer for the controversial, and very necessary, movie, “Bully”, a teacher foolishly goes on camera to say that she’d “ridden on that bus” where a young boy was allegedly bullied and the kids “…were as good as gold”.  Ultimately, this boy committed suicide because of the bullying.

Sometimes, in some cases of bullying against LGBT teens, the victim is blamed for the bullying!!  In the case of one high-profile LGBT teen suicide from a couple years ago, the parents were told that if their son didn’t act [gay], he wouldn’t get bullied.  How is THAT acceptable?  That’s not “not taking bullying seriously”, that’s turning a blind eye to what’s going on.  Worse, that’s essentially sanctioning the violence because this boy was simple being himself.  The sad end result was him taking matters into his own hands and ending his life.  

On my facebook blog page, read comment after comment from real-life people who were bullied, went to the authorities, and nothing was done about it.

I was bullied in school for being “different”,”odd”, and my school did nothing about it. Often, they ignored it cuz the kids who did bully me were kids of pta and parents who supported and gave alot of money to the school. My dad fought hard to get me help because other stuff was going on due to bullying, like my academics. I was not sent to a private charter school till I was a junior in high school, and that was due to case workers and an advocate, because i tried to commit suicide more then 3 times in less then 2 yrs. While being at that special school, they (the school) found out I have autism. Had the school I attended prior would have taken the time to listen to my father, I would of been put in the right classrooms and would have gotten the help I needed from day 1. Even when I was in 9th and 10th grade, people where horrible to me. I wonder, now that we are adults, how they would feel if they found out they bullied a girl with disabilities to the point of trying suicide.  I wonder how they would feel, especially if they had kids…bullying needs to stop on all levels.  I just wanted to share my story.

That’s one of the comments left recently on my facebook blog page.  This is but one example.  Unfortunately, there are more.

Problem with schools, I’m a senior in high school, and in all my years in middle school (6-8) I was bullied and fighting back each year leading me to get kicked off to a new school each year….kinda sucks how “they who purposely care” really don’t…..well until until you’re pushed too far.

“Until you’re pushed too far” is 10 steps too late.  Bullying needs to be taken seriously, on all levels:  not only against LGBT teens, but against anyone who’s perceived different, anyone who doesn’t “fit in”.  School officials, elected officials, adults in general!, all need to be re-educated.  And, part of that re-education process needs to be making them acutely aware that ignoring the bullying issue doesn’t make it away.

The Rock & The Ripe

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I just spent a couple hours going over this project.  Going over this project, familiarizing myself with it, caused me to go back and review some of the videos and stories about people like Phillip Parker, Jamey Rodemeyer, Ashlynn Conner, Seth Walsh, Jamie Hubley.  The list is sickeningly long.  Then, I cried.  With every different face I saw, I cried.  Then, I got mad.

I watched videos that reminded me just how important this all is because there are actually people, and I mean high-profile people, working just as hard to minimize or even eradicate everything we’re doing.  To them, bullying isn’t a problem; LGBT teens shouldn’t have “special protection”; LGBT teens bring their problems on themselves by being out.  Thank the God of your understanding that we outnumber them.

I named this blog Enough is Enough for a very specific and obvious reason.  Our society has been plagued long enough by narrow-mindedness, ruled too long by a “moral majority” (which , by the way, they’re neither) who feel that everyone should live by THEIR standards or be damned.  And, in the cross hairs are struggling, emotionally fragile LGBT teens.  And, the result is far too often…suicide.  Enough TRULY is enough.

In watching the video promoting The Rock & The Ripe, one segment stopped me in my tracks.  I watched it repeatedly.

So, don’t be f*cking shocked and wonder where all these bullies are coming from that are torturing young kids and are driving them to kill themselves because they’re different.  They learned it from watching you.

That’s directed at every politician who continues to attempt to pass legislation that minimizes LGBT teens; that’s directed at every teacher who turns a blind eye at the bullying of an LGBT teen; that’s directed at every parent who speaks hatred and intolerance around their own children, ESPECIALLY if they have LGBT kids.

Watching those videos got me angry.

Mark Blane is 23-year-old gay man who was bullied unmerciful as a teen.  He is also a very talented director and playwright.  He is inspired and inspiring.  He’s assembled, in his words, “…an incredible network of artists, actors, and activists…” in his effort to “…expose the secrets and real issues behind gay [teen] bullying in America.”

“The Rock & The Ripe” the play, is set for production in Chicago June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  Mark’s ambition is to get the funding to take it nationwide.  He’s going to need massive help in doing so.

“The Rock & The Ripe”, the book, goes into deeper detail.

The book will be a dissection of how this process and project came to be, the atrocious facts and stories of anti-gay bullying from across the country, information commemorating the lives of 14-year-old Phillip Parker, 14-year-old Rafael Morelos, and many others. Direct quotes from phone-calls, in-person interviews in communities across the country that are affected by homophobia, ignorance, careless town officials, and unsympathetic and uneducated (ironically) school administrations. This book will be PACKED with photography, research, plus insight into the the minds of the actors/activists.

Enough really is enough.  Our numbers are growing around the world, and our voices are being heard.  People young and old, black and white, gay and straight, and everywhere in between, are standing up and saying enough is enough!!!  And, we are making a difference. The reality of it is we’re going to have to create the change we’re seeking.  The politicians won’t do it.  The educators won’t do it.  And, too many parents won’t do it.  WE are the ones who will make the difference at the end of the day.  Mark is doing his part at trying to make a differnce.  He needs help getting his project up and running.

He’s created a Kickstarter page for people to contribute as little as $5 towards getting his story out.  If you’re unfamiliar with how Kickstarter works, it’s an all-or-nothing proposition.  Anyone can contribute.  There’s a set target amount.  Anything at or above that amount, Mark gets for his project.  However, if that number isn’t met, he – and, the project – gets nothing.

It’s a story that must get out!!!

Teen Suicide vs. Teen Smoking

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I am livid!!!  Driving down the highway yesterday, on my way to work, I hear a story on the all-news channel in my area.  Apparently, some official medical institution sounded the alarm about teen smoking.  “We are currently in a teen smoking epidemic.”  Wait.  Did I miss something?

Since the time that I was a teen, and even pre-teen!, myself, there’s been teens smoking.  Just plain fact.  That doesn’t make it good.  That doesn’t make it right.  Smoking is, in fact, detrimental to one’s health.  Cigarettes are the only consumer product that, if used as intended, will kill you.  That speaks volumes of the dangers of smoking.  True enough.  And, teen smoking?  Well, that’s surely an issue.  By no means do I want to minimize the issue of teens starting to smoke cigarettes.  It’s not good and, if continued, it will eventually kill them.  Eventually.  And, the reverse side of that is if they successfully quit smoking at some point in their lives, the dangers of smoking the known carcinogen goes away.  Eventually, completely.

Teen suicides.  Well, suicide is permanent.  Suicide isn’t a drawn-out process that takes years and, more likely, decades to become complete. (yes, there are some who will say that smoking cigarettes is, in fact, a form of suicide.  Just delayed.)  And, we’re seeing teens die of suicide every single day of the year. (don’t think for a second that just because we haven’t heard of one lately that they aren’t still occurring.  They are.)  So, where’s the press release for that!!??  Where’s the “crisis” announcement for the issue of teen suicide!!??  Why do they find it more important to go public with a story about an issue that has been around for as long as I can remember, even longer!, and present it as a right-now epidemic!!??

In my opinion, it speaks volumes to the importance our officials are putting on the true epidemic of teen, and LGBT teen, suicides.  And, that is an atrocity.  At least in my eyes.  Rather than devoted time, effort, and resources into an epidemic that is claiming lives right here in the here-and-now, they’re rehashing information that’s decades old and presenting it as some brand spanking new study and problem.  What sense does that make?  So, what do we say to the family of the next teen who commits suicide?  “Sorry for your loss, but at least he didn’t smoke.  That would’ve made it worse.)  Is it me?  Or, is there a real problem here?

Cigarette smoking is a real issue, don’t get me wrong.  I know first-hand because I’ve been a smoker, myself, for almost 30 years.  And, it’s always been my opinion that selling cigarettes, a product that is PROVEN will kill its users!!!, should be illegal.  That will never happen, though.  Political reasons. (for the fun of it, research how much money the tobacco industry gives BOTH major political parties.)  However, as stated previously, teens can quit smoking, thus reversing the deadly effects of the cigarettes.  Once a person has committed suicide, they’re gone.  We can’t reverse death.

Monster March Against Bullying

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I think my favorite line from their “info” section is:

While parents, school officials and politicians keep imposing well intended rules and policies, we teenagers know real change… starts with us.

My smile was ear-to-ear!  Christi O’Connor, of San Francisco, sent me an email last week telling me about their Monster March Against Bullying to be held in the City By The Bay in October (no specific date given yet) in hope that I would help her spread the word.  And, of course, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  So far, in my opinion, this is the single greatest thing I’ve seen emerge in our collective struggle to bring an end to the bullying and help end the teen suicides, gay and straight alike.

The Monster March is a teen-created and teen-led protest marking a critical responsibility shift in solving our nation’s deadly bullying problem. This October, more than 10,000 of us teens from across the nation and around the world will march through the streets of San Francisco in what we plan to make “The Largest Teen Protest In History.” We will draw unprecedented awareness as we step into our power and claim our role in creating and putting into action our anti bullying solutions only teenagers can ensure work.

So, who is Christi O’Connor?  I can’t answer that in any other way than to say that she’s a driven teen who’s on a mission to make a huge difference in the lives of the teens who are bullied, to the families and friends of those who have committed suicide because of bullying.   Read her email to me for yourself:

Ron,
I’ve read a lot of what you write on bullying. Thank you. I’m the founder of the national youth led Monster March Against Bullying with The Rodemeyers, The Mowrys and many other bullying families behind our teens. Last Monday, we flew five headline making bullying families and many teens from around the country to help launch The Monster March.

We would love your help spreading the news of our teens’ invite to Lady Gaga and to President Obama to be at our 10,000 teen march against bullying in San Francisco this October. If you can ask all your followers to Tweet both letting them know your fans want both to join us, it will boost our profile and more teens will join us. The October march is just the celebratory finale of our teens’ year long campaign of projects they’re leading online, in classrooms and everywhere they can influence peers.

They want to recruit every teen they can.

Check out our FB page and our “Top 10 Teen Solutions” list. We change it every two weeks pushing to the top, the best in that time frame.

Also everything we have in our “Photos.”

Our teens include best friends and siblings of bullied teens from all over the country who’ve killed themselves. These teens are committed (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVzNKZpqDDo)

Go to http://www.facebook.com/youthvoicetv

Warmly,

Christi O’Connor
Founder “The Monster March Against Bullying”

Amazing stuff.  And, she has a point:  for all the work we adults do, or try to do, to end this madness, ultimately it will be up to them, the teens, to take matters in their own hands and say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”!!!  That message coming from us, the concerned citizens, adults, and parents, carries some weight.  Things ARE happening albeit slowly.  However, that same message coming from THOUSANDS of teens is going to be impossible to ignore.  Add to their cause such influential, anti-bullying people as Lady Gaga and President Barack Obama, and the entire WORLD will have no choice but to stand up and take notice. (disclaimer:  as of this writing, invitations have been sent to Lady Gaga and the POTUS.  It’s not confirmed, yet, that either will be in attendance.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed.)  The family of Jamey Rodemeyer will be there in support of the Monster March Against Bullying, as will Jonah Mowry and his family.  I’m hoping that, by the time October rolls into San Francisco, many more family and friends of victims of bullying will be there in attendance.

The video attached to the email was the clencher.  Sixteen-year-old Liane, makes a very strong case for everyone to get involved by driving home the question “What are you waiting for?”  She had just lost a friend to suicide at the time she recorded the video.  The pain, the anguish!, is very visible on her face.  And, that pain isn’t isolated.  That pain and anguish is, sadly, shared all over the world every single day as yet another teenager ends their own life.

So, my question is the same:  What ARE you waiting for?  Every 18 minutes, another teenager ends his or her life.  And, for every successful suicide attempt, there’s 25 others who THANKFULLY didn’t success.  We’ve got an epidemic.  But, you don’t need me to tell you that.  I think that much is crystal clear.  What I do need to remind people, I feel, is that there’s still lots and lots of work that needs to be done before we’re able to claim victory.  Worse, rest assured that for everyone of “us” who are working hard and long to make a difference, there’s just as many if not more of “them” working just as hard and long to negate all of our efforts.

We will win this hard-fought battle.  I have complete confidence in that and can say it with 100% conviction.  However, the victory will not come without a long of hands-on effort.  And, what will, in the end, make the biggest difference will be teens, like Brett Simpson, like Christi O’Connor standing firm as they say to “The Establishment” ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!  Let’s do our part in making this Monster March Against Bullying an overwhelming success!  “Like” their facebook page.  Watch the video.  Share both as often as you can.  The world is changing, and Christi O’Connor is right at the forefront of that change.

Story of The Year!!!

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To me, at least, this is definitely the story of the year.  And, it delivers the MESSAGE of the year:  eliminate hate-filled language.  Not just in schools, for they’re only repeating what they’ve learned from adults.  Indeed, hate speech needs to be dealt with swiftly and harshly, no matter if it’s Michele Bachmann or Mr. Johnson from down the street.

This story isn’t new.  It went viral August 16th.  See, “Amelia” has a 6-year-old son who just happened to tell her that he likes kissing boys!  In an innocence that only a 6-year-old can provide, he told his mother that it’s quite possible that he’s gay.  Thinking it was cute coming from her 6-year-old son, which it was, she wanted to share that with a couple of online friends.  Overnight, it went viral.  Why would something so cute and innocent, and personal, go viral overnight?  There are two very basic reasons why.

People connected with it easily because we could all relate.  Well, most of us. (those who said they couldn’t lie to themselves)  See, everyone one of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, knew when we were in that age group which gender made us happy on the inside.  And, it’s the ones who make us happy on the inside that we are attracted to, whether it’s in childhood or adulthood.  I knew when I was 7.  And, every single gay friend I’ve ever had has said the same thing.  Conversely, every single straight friend I’ve ever had knew that the opposite sex pushed their internal buttons.  It’s only natural!  See, we’re not talking sex here.  We’re talking attraction.  We’re talking about who makes us feel happy inside.  Isn’t that what love’s really about?

“Amelia” not only accepted her son’s words at face value (knowing full well that, at age 6, those words were definitely not set in stone), she embraced him.  She encouraged him.  Guess what happens when he “comes out” at such an early age AND the most important person in your world embraces and encourages you?  Your self-esteem has no choice but to soar.  Which brings me to the obvious second reason people connected so quickly to this story.

People with Michele Bachmannitis were APPALLED that she would encourage such deviant behavior!  “He is much too young to know about sex”, they argued.  Huh?  I think I missed that part of the story.  See, the Michele Bachmanns of the world would have the exact opposite effect on this boy:  his self-esteem would be ruined.  He’d be chastised for his “unnatural” feelings and, probably, sent off to be “cured”.  That’s what “they” do.  And, in just a few years, we’d run the risk of having another suicide victim on our hands.

“Amelia” sat up and took notice.  And, from her observations, for every Michele Bachmann who commented, there were “multiple messages” saying that they, too, knew when they were very young which gender tickled their fancy.  We all do!  Of course, at age 6, we don’t put a label on it.  We don’t learn that everyone has to fit into a category until later on in life.  But, I knew in 1st grade that Keith made my heart flutter while Debora was just pretty to look at.

The other thing that “Amelia” noticed was how extremely dangerous the hate speech was to not only her 6-year-old son, but to ALL young people!  And, indeed it is.  As I’ve been saying, it’s damaging on both ends:  your bullies learned to hate from somewhere.  Enough said.  Likewise, however, far-too-many of these young suicide victims “learn” from their Michele Bachmannesque parents that they are “abnormal”, “freaks”, “deviant”, “sick” and worse.  They learn that they are defective, that they need to be “fixed”.  I don’t feel I need to say anything about what this does to their young self-esteem.  Let’s just say that we read about them far too frequently and once it’s far too late.

My favorite part of the story, though, is where “Amelia” reached the point where she said “Enough Is Enough!!!”  She made a stand.  She vowed to protect her children from the Michele Bachmanns of the world because THEY spread hate as if they have a license to do so.

Ever ask yourself why is it so important to these hate mongers that everyone HAS to think as they do, act in accordance to what THEY think is right

Written by Ron Kemp

December 30, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Knowledge Really is Power

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Did you know that, according to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), roughly 8 out of every 100,000 teenagers committed suicide in 2000?(that was 11 years ago, for those keeping count.  I’m sure that number has risen.)  Did you know that for every ONE teen suicide, there were 10 other attempts!?  Again, 2000 statistics.  Did you know that 8 out of 10 teens who commit suicide try to ask for help, in their own way, before committing suicide?

In every one of my blog entries, I provide links.  In some cases, they’re links to articles about a bullycide or something else that’s pertinent to whatever I’m writing about at the time.  In most cases, however, the links will take the reader to some useful information.  If you haven’t been clicking the links, I highly recommend to every reader to click this one.  There is a plethora of valuable information contained therein.  And, knowledge really is power.

It is imperative that, in combating this epidemic, everyone has as much knowledge of the situation as humanly possible.  I don’t think there can be too much information as far as this is concerned.  Do you?  For instance, do you know what depression looks like if you have or are in contact with a teenager?  You’ll learn it here.  The more we know, the better our chances are of diffusing volatile situations before they spin out of control.  And, most importantly, the better chance we have of saving some lives.  That’s what it’s all about.

Written by Ron Kemp

December 16, 2011 at 3:15 am

Rest In Peace Ben Lewis 11/19/2011 (15 year old victim of bullying)

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The prayer is that someday, SOMEDAY!!, these headlines will disappear.  Fifteen year old Ben Lewis, of Lincoln, Nebraska took as much bullying as he could handle.  On November 19th, the bullying claimed his young life.  Say a prayer for his devastated family.  Then, get involved.  In your own way, to whatever extent you can afford, get involved.  This HAS to end!!!  Every state in the Union needs to examine and re-examine their anti-bullying laws, make them strong and all-encompassing, then ENFORCE them!!!  That these young people to get away with pushing another human being to their death with impunity is absolutely an issue that needs to be re-examined.  Rest in Peace young Ben Lewis.