There are many things that are common, shared experiences among teens. Prom, a first kiss and, unfortunately now for many, cyberbullying. We all know someone who has been sent a mean text from a jealous ex-friend or been the victim of a cruel meme. I’m 32 years old and even I have had a friend who was cyberbullied via a meme, well her child was. Someone made a meme of her TWO YEAR OLD CHILD! A person from her hometown decided to pull a picture of her son off of her Facebook and poke fun at the expense of this little boy by creating a mean meme. A mean meme, of a two-year-old child… I just don’t get why the person did it.
Cyberbullying follows us, into the privacy of our home, where we can’t escape or prevent others from seeing it and joining in. This year nationally, more than 13 million American children will be bullied. 1 in 6 parents know their child has been bullied over social media and in over half of these cases their child was a repeat victim. The reason this is such a big deal is because overall, the suicide rate among teens has climbed in the past few years. According to http://www.nydailynews.com, the rate has climbed “from 6.3% in 2009 to 7.8% in 2011… According to the survey about 20% of high-schoolers said they’d been bullied while at school, and 16% said they’d been ‘cyberbullied’ through email, chat, instant messaging, social media or texting. As more and more forms of communication spring up, there’s opportunity for bullying to occur, which could eventually lead to an increased rate of attempted suicides, neuropsychologist Dr. Hector Adames told MSNBC.”
So what are we going to do about it? Before now, bullying online had minimal risk. If you could prove you didn’t create the content then you wouldn’t get in trouble, only the person who generates the content would get punished, but any of the hundreds or more people that could re-tweet, or resend the content would get off scotch free, creating virtually no risk for these quiet bullies that are perpetuating the abuse. Now that has changed!
Thanks to Assemblymember Christina Garcia, who proposed bill AB 881(a bill that Junior League Long Beach supported), beginning Jan 1, 2016 anyone who transmits (re-tweets, re-posts, re-sends) the content CAN ALSO BE SUSPENDED!!! This will hopefully get those, otherwise well behaved, kids from jumping on the bandwagon and contributing to something that could encourage a peer’s suicide.
A lot of people that take part in online bullying don’t realize how much they are really damaging their victim. We need to think twice before making a mean comment or re-posting harmful posts and be conscious when we are online. We need to be aware of our actions and how they can affect those around us. I wish this bill wasn’t necessary, that we would all post only the positive and kind. It takes a lot more energy to hate someone then it does to ignore them. Think of how you would feel if someone said those things to you and try to be sympathetic towards others. Then we could really see some positive change in this world!
School can be so tough. I know I had the hardest time navigating middle school, and to be honest, up through college. It’s hard to stay true to yourself when you have so many outside forces coming your way. There are so many changes going on during these years. You are trying to figure out what you stand for, who you are, what matters to you, who you want to be in the world (not to mention all of the changes happening to you physically!). That takes a lot of energy and can be so stressful. Add in the others in your class and at school who are looking for the same, the dynamics of people wanting to fit in and look cool, and people acting out their insecurities and projecting them onto others. You can see what a mess it can all be. Looking back it’s much easier to see it clearly — but it doesn’t minimize the potential there is for hurt feelings, alienation, loneliness and betrayal through the journey. If I can impart any wisdom from my experience, it is to spread kindness whenever and however you can. No one ever got hurt from kindness. When you are kind, you never have to explain your actions. You will never look back in regret for being kind to others. Period. As the quote above says “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Please try as hard as you can not to get caught in the fray (or fight) and spread an understanding, positive approach. Be that change you wish to see in the world.
I was shown a really cool clip recently on a new comedy out, called The Duff. I can’t say whether it’s a flop or great movie, but at least it gets people talking… The Duff is a movie about an ugly acronym and inner beauty and explores how teenagers use social media to make peers feel like they’re not good enough. Leading up to the launch of the movie, the stars of the film partnered with a program called “Mean Stinks” and put on an assembly about cyber-bullying, which was watched by more than 40,000 students (a cool fact was that this was filmed at Los Al High, a local school to Long Beach, CA). Click on the following link for a short video about The Duff stars and their partnership with Mean Stinks – Today Show Video on The Duff and Mean Stinks. Also, see below for a teaser of what Mean Stinks is about. You can visit www.meanstinks.com or find them on Facebook for more information — www.facebook.com/meanstinks. I hope you check it out for some inspiration!
Let’s step up together to flood the world with kindness!
A fearless female leader I look up to shared this image on her social media this morning, and I felt the need to now share with our Confidence Post community. It is so short but sweet! Whether you are in the 5th grade, in your 30s, or a grandma or grandpa, I think we all can be reminded and learn a lesson from the T.H.I.N.K. acronym. Words are so powerful and we don’t even know how much power (not necessarily in a good way) we have through the things we say. Our words have the potential to lift someone up or tear someone down. Let’s all pledge to be part of the first group — those community members who lift each other up whether in our classroom, after school, at work, in our groups of friends and peers, and at home. I know it requires us to slow down just a little, but please think before you speak and be thoughtful with your words!
Is what you’re saying true?
Is it helpful?
Is it inspiring?
Is it necessary?
…and most importantly, Is it kind?
With gratitude for all of you,
October is National Bullying Prevention Month and I thought the quote above was apt for the topic. There really is no replacement in the world for kindness. Yes, it takes effort. Sometimes it is difficult to show kindness when others aren’t showing the same respect. With that said, you will never come out behind by being the girl or guy exhibiting kindness. You will never look back with regret about showing kindness — for you never know what the other person is truly going through. I have found this especially true in my life. Be that catalyst in your community supporting others, not engaging with someone trying to pull you into their negativity or destructive cycles, and through sharing kindness. If we all adopt this as a belief, we will change our communities. Bullies won’t have as much of an audience or following, and there will be less miscommunication between parties who may have otherwise had a potential bullying situation.
My hope for this week’s blog is to provide knowledge and resources around bullying prevention. Please see below for what Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as. You can also scroll down to find some online resources for bullying awareness, as well as some other useful links. The YouTube video included illustrates the power imbalance needed for bullying to take place. It’s really a great visual to watch. My question to you is, what can you do to change the cycle?
What is Bullying?
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
- An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Resources for everyone:
Resource for adults:
Please watch this fabulous video of a Tedx Youth Event speaker, Niko Everett, as she describes her path to meeting herself at age 21. This week, rather than read a story please watch this daring personal story on how this woman started building her own self-esteem (I sure learned a thing or two from it!). Enjoy!
P.S. Thank you to a great team of ladies who originally introduced me to this speech.