In a recent CNN article by Ric Ward, Ward looks at President Obama’s taped message which appeared on the website itgetsbetterproject.com, a website devoted to telling teen LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) kids that suicide isn’t the answer to bullying, and that things do get better as you get older. In the wake of multiple sucides from LGBTQ youth due to bullying President Obama tells openly LGBTQ youth that no one deserves to be bullied and that “We’ve got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage, that it’s some inevitable part of growing up. It’s not.”
At FVPC we work to dismantle systems of violence including bullying. President Obama raises a very important point when he says that bullying is not a “rite of passage” rather it is a learned behavior that only stops when bullies are told their actions are unacceptable. We know that domestic violence is also a learned behavior. Both behaviors are rooted in a desire for power and control over someone else . Both the bully and the batterer see that their actions “work” and so they continue. Unfortunately, unlike domestic violence which can become more dangerous if the victim leaves or tells someone, bullying victims can help end the bullying by telling a trusted adult.
Informing bullied teens that there is nothing wrong with them, rather there is something wrong with bullies’ behavior is another huge step in eradicating the normalization of bullying amongst American teenagers. According to itgetsbetterproject.com nine of out ten LGBTQ teenagers have experienced harassment at school and more than a third have attempted suicide. Bullying can be incredibly damaging to adolescent and childrens’ self esteem and can lead to poor school performance, depression, anxiety and even suicide as the tragic events of the past month have illustrated.
Bullying is a community issue we all need to take a stance in preventing. If you’re a parent, talk to your kids about bullying, let them know they aren’t alone and that people are here to help them. If you’re a teacher here in Orange County, NC. call us at 929-3872 and ask us about coming to talk to your students about bullying.