I think you’ll find this post’s video very informative. Sorry gang, it’s not a music video, but it does a great job at explaining a lot of the confusion behind the legalization of pot.
February 24, 2014
Let’s make one thing absolutely clear from the very top: Inhaling marijuana smoke isn’t good for you; it isn’t good for me; it isn’t good for anybody…but than neither is smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol.
In light of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, I have been asked by several of you to write a blog post about the facts so that each of you can make an informed decision if pot is right for you. Full disclosure: the first time I tried pot I was in college. I was 19-years old and I smoked a lot of it that night. I had a midterm the next day. What the hell was I thinking? Needless to say, I flunked. Did that stop me from ever smoking it again? Well, although I never tried it again while in college I started doing it on a regular basis when I was 40-years old. I guess I was having a mid-life crisis. For me it led to cocaine use which lasted about a year before I was stopped, thanks to great friends who supported me and helped me put my life back together. Oh yes, and I used to smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day (I quit about 4 years ago and I feel soooo much better.) I have also been known to have a drink or two or three on occassion…even though I am fully aware of the risks and drawbacks, but hey, we all have a free will…that’s why I’m writing this blog post.
Okay, now that you know my story, let me tell you about some of the things I learned when researching this topic for you. First, many of you have told me that they are being told by us adults that you shouldn’t be smoking today’s marijuana because it is much stronger than the stuff we used to smoke.It’s true. We are not just telling you that to convince you not to smoke it. Growers can now manipulate the level of THC in marijuana. THC is the ingredient in pot that gets you high. Back in the 1970′s and 1980′s, when I smoked pot, the average THC potency came in at less than 1%. Today it can be as high as 37%.
Let’s face facts, gang. Your still developing teenage brain is simply not ready for the effects of marijuana on your body. Matthew J. Smith, a research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences was recently quoted as saying:
Adolescence is a sensitive time for brain development. If a teen introduces…marijuana at that point in their life, it could have consequences for their ability to problem solve, for their memory and for critical thinking in general.
One study has even suggested that using marijuana produces many similar effects to schizophrenia. Hey, gang, I’m just reporting on the research. My goal is not to scare you, but if it does the trick, and it convinces not to try pot now, than more power to the research.
What about medical marijuana? I’ve had some of you tell me that you’ve been told you have anxiety or you’re depressed, thus justifying the use of pot. Not so fast gang! Yes, marijuana does have medical benefits for limited medical illnesses, such as cancer, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, Glaucoma, asthma, depression and other disorders. Improvements have been seen with guidedpot use. That means under the supervision of a doctor. It does not give you license to self-medicate just because you read or heard that marijuana can be good for what ails you.
Don’t get me wrong, I get that life can be downright stressful, but drugs and alcohol (and, make no mistake about it, marijuana is a drug) are not the answer…please trust me on this one. I welcome all of your comments and questions. Let’s have a frank and open discussion. I would love to hear your thoughts.
As we begin 2014, I thought it important to get back to the basics; to the reason we’re here – to end bullying and bullycide in our time. Below is an article from KidsHealth.org – The most-visited site devoted to children’s health and development. For much more on this issue I encourage all of you to click on the KidsHealth.org link to learn more. This particular article teaches us how to deal with the bullies in our lives. I found it to be one of the best pieces on the subject. I hope you do too. But most of all, I hope you learn from it.
The video I have chosen is called The Same Way. It’s written and performed by former top-10 finalists in America’s Got Talent, Ali and Christina Christensen. After being cyberbullied on social media, the teen duo decided to make this video to help others. Ali and Christina, sisters, both have cystic fibrosis – a genetic lung disease. For them to be able to sing is amazing in and of itself. Talk about finding the strength to sing this beautiful anti-bullying song for us – I hope you are all inspired like I was!
Dealing With Bullies
Bullying is a big problem. It can make kids feel hurt, scared, sick, lonely, embarrassed and sad. Bullies might hit, kick, or push to hurt people, or use words to call names, threaten, tease, or scare them.
A bully might say mean things about someone, grab a kid’s stuff, make fun of someone, or leave a kid out of the group on purpose.
Some bullies threaten people or try to make them do things they don’t want to do.
Bullying Is a Big Deal
Bullying is a big problem that affects lots of kids. Three-quarters of all kids say they have been bullied or teased. Being bullied can make kids feel really bad. The stress of dealing with bullies can make kids feel sick.
Bullying can make kids not want to play outside or go to school. It’s hard to keep your mind on schoolwork when you’re worried about how you’re going to deal with the bully near your locker.
Bullying bothers everyone — and not just the kids who are getting picked on. Bullying can make school a place of fear and can lead to more violence and more stress for everyone.
Why Do Bullies Act That Way?
Some bullies are looking for attention. They might think bullying is a way to be popular or to get what they want. Most bullies are trying to make themselves feel more important. When they pick on someone else, it can make them feel big and powerful.
Some bullies come from families where everyone is angry and shouting all the time. They may think that being angry, calling names, and pushing people around is a normal way to act. Some bullies are copying what they’ve seen someone else do. Some have been bullied themselves.
Sometimes bullies know that what they are doing or saying hurts other people. But other bullies may not really know how hurtful their actions can be. Most bullies don’t understand or care about the feelings of others.
Bullies often pick on someone they think they can have power over. They might pick on kids who get upset easily or who have trouble sticking up for themselves. Getting a big reaction out of someone can make bullies feel like they have the power they want. Sometimes bullies pick on someone who is smarter than they are or different from them in some way. Sometimes bullies just pick on a kid for no reason at all.
Gemma told her mom that this one kid was picking on her for having red hair and freckles. She wanted to be like the other kids but she couldn’t change those things about herself. Finally Gemma made friends at her local swimming pool with a girl who wished she had red hair like Gemma’s. The two girls became great friends and she learned to ignore the mean girl’s taunts at school.
Bullying: How to Handle It
So now you know that bullying is a big problem that affects a lot of kids, but what do you do if someone is bullying you? Our advice falls into two categories: preventing a run-in with the bully, and what to do if you end up face-to-face with the bully.
Preventing a Run-In With a Bully
Don’t give the bully a chance. As much as you can, avoid the bully. You can’t go into hiding or skip class, of course. But if you can take a different route and avoid him or her, do so.
Stand tall and be brave. When you’re scared of another person, you’re probably not feeling your bravest. But sometimes just acting brave is enough to stop a bully. How does a brave person look and act? Stand tall and you’ll send the message: “Don’t mess with me.” It’s easier to feel brave when you feel good about yourself. See the next tip!
Feel good about you. Nobody’s perfect, but what can you do to look and feel your best? Maybe you’d like to be more fit. If so, maybe you’ll decide to get more exercise, watch less TV, and eat healthier snacks. Or maybe you feel you look best when you shower in the morning before school. If so, you could decide to get up a little earlier so you can be clean and refreshed for the school day.
Get a buddy (and be a buddy). Two is better than one if you’re trying to avoid being bullied. Make a plan to walk with a friend or two on the way to school or recess or lunch or wherever you think you might meet the bully. Offer to do the same if a friend is having bully trouble. Get involved if you see bullying going on in your school — tell an adult, stick up for the kid being bullied, and tell the bully to stop.
If The Bully Says or Does Something to You
Ignore the bully. If you can, try your best to ignore the bully’s threats. Pretend you don’t hear them and walk away quickly to a place of safety. Bullies want a big reaction to their teasing and meanness. Acting as if you don’t notice and don’t care is like giving no reaction at all, and this just might stop a bully’s behavior.
Stand up for yourself. Pretend to feel really brave and confident. Tell the bully “No! Stop it!” in a loud voice. Then walk away, or run if you have to. Kids also can stand up for each other by telling a bully to stop teasing or scaring someone else, and then walk away together. If a bully wants you to do something that you don’t want to do — say “no!” and walk away. If you do what a bully says to do, they will likely keep bullying you. Bullies tend to bully kids who don’t stick up for themselves.
Don’t bully back. Don’t hit, kick, or push back to deal with someone bullying you or your friends. Fighting back just satisfies a bully and it’s dangerous, too, because someone could get hurt. You’re also likely to get in trouble. It’s best to stay with others, stay safe, and get help from an adult.
Don’t show your feelings. Plan ahead. How can you stop yourself from getting angry or showing you’re upset? Try distracting yourself (counting backwards from 100, spelling the word ‘turtle’ backwards, etc.) to keep your mind occupied until you are out of the situation and somewhere safe where you can show your feelings.
Tell an adult. If you are being bullied, it’s very important to tell an adult. Find someone you trust and go and tell them what is happening to you. Teachers, principals, parents, and lunchroom helpers at school can all help to stop bullying. Sometimes bullies stop as soon as a teacher finds out because they’re afraid that they will be punished by parents. This is not tattling on someone who has done something small — bullying is wrong and it helps if everyone who gets bullied or sees someone being bullied speaks up.
What Happens to Bullies?
In the end, most bullies wind up in trouble. If they keep acting mean and hurtful, sooner or later they may have only a few friends left — usually other kids who are just like them. The power they wanted slips away fast. Other kids move on and leave bullies behind.
Luis lived in fear of Brian — every day he would give his lunch money to Brian but he still beat him up. He said that if Luis ever told anyone he would beat him up in front of all the other kids in his class. Luis even cried one day and another girl told everyone that he was a baby and had been crying. Luis was embarrassed and felt so bad about himself and about school. Finally, Brian got caught threatening Luis and they were both sent to the school counselor. Brian got in a lot of trouble at home. Over time, Brian learned how to make friends and ask his parents for lunch money. Luis never wanted to be friends with Brian but he did learn to act strong and more confident around him.
Some kids who bully blame others. But every kid has a choice about how to act. Some kids who bully realize that they don’t get the respect they want by threatening others. They may have thought that bullying would make them popular, but they soon find out that other kids just think of them as trouble-making losers.
The good news is that kids who are bullies can learn to change their behavior. Teachers, counselors, and parents can help. So can watching kids who treat others fairly and with respect. Bullies can change if they learn to use their power in positive ways. In the end, whether bullies decide to change their ways is up to them. Some bullies turn into great kids. Some bullies never learn.
But no one needs to put up with a bully’s behavior. If you or someone you know is bothered by a bully, talk to someone you trust. Everyone has the right to feel safe, and being bullied makes people feel unsafe. Tell someone about it and keep telling until something is done.
Can you believe another year has quickly passed us by? It’s been a very busy year here at MIBRN. As you can see, the number of registered members has topped 1,000. The number of teens who actually use the site on a regular basis is double that number. I want to thank each and every one of you for making MIBRN the success it has become. With your help and support we are saving lives every single day. In this, my final blog post of 2013, I have decided to introduce you to a very special teacher and her class of kindergartners. Why? Because the youngest among us are going to show us how it’s done – how we all should treat each other and the rewards that come from just being good to one another and to ourselves. The video above may seem a bit juvenile at first blush, but please bear with me…none of us are too old to learn from our youth. Hey, it is Christmas after all!
Before I introduce you to this teacher extraordinaire and her students, please let me give you a bit of important background. In May, I was reunited with a friend I had not heard from in over 25 years. Her name is Annette. Growing up, our families were best friends with each other. We did almost everything together, including vacation. Annette’s parent’s (Allan and Midge), and my parent’s (Jack and Joan) were like 2nd parents to each of us, along with our siblings (Scot, Dennis and Colleen). Over the years we simply lost touch with each other for no other reason than space and time. It was this very website that helped us find our way back to each other after all of those lost years. Much has changed in 25 years. Allan, my 2nd father, sadly passed away 15 years ago. I am dedicating this blog to him, because I know how proud he would have been of his granddaughter, Tara, Annette’s daughter (that teacher extraordinaire I was telling you about.)
Meet Tara Willis. She’s a mother of two beautiful young daughters herself (yeah, Annette’s a grandmother – how cool is that!) Tara, excuse me, Mrs. Willis, has been teaching and influencing young minds for the past five years. Her credentials are quite impressive. She graduated from Penn State University in 2006 with a B.S. in Urban Early and Middle Childhood Education; and Immaculata University in January, 2013 with an M.A. in Educational Leadership. She presently teaches kindergarten at Penrose School in Southwest Philadelphia. In October, I asked Tara if she would like her students to participate inUnity Day on MIBRN and wear orange as a part of anti-bullying awareness month, and I’d put the students pics on MIBRN. It was no surprise that her class was already participating in Unity Day even before my invitation. That was just the beginning. You see, Tara unwittingly changed my life when she introduced me to this really cool concept of the invisible bucket and dipper.
What? Are you serious Mr. Kevin? A bucket and a dipper?
I certainly am! And before you think this is an idea only for little kids…think again…junior and senior high schools, even major corporations are using this imagery in the workplace all over the world…and, guess what…it works!
Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending on what others say or do to us. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful.
Each of us also has an invisible dipper. When we use that dipper to fill other people’s buckets – by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions – we also fill our own bucket. But when we use that dipper to dip from others’ buckets – by saying or doing things that decrease their positive emotions – we diminish ourselves.
Like the cup that runneth over, a full bucket gives us a positive outlook and renewed energy. Every drop in that bucket makes us stronger and more optimistic.
But an empty bucket poisons our outlook, saps our energy, and undermines our will. That’s why every time someone dips from our bucket, it hurts us.
Bucket fillers’ are those who help without being asked and generally spread their love and good feelings to others. Remember you can make a difference each time you brighten someone’s life through small efforts like a smile, kind word, saying thank you or showing you care.
Click on any picture in the spinning cube above to start the slideshow (and don’t forget to click on the information icon in the upper left hand corner of each pic), enjoy…and most of all…LEARN from the youngest among us! I challenge you to try it…what have you got to lose? and, hey, you just might surprise yourself, and make the world a better place in the process!
I’ve got to tell you, I’ve done a lot of research on all kinds of ways bullies take advantage of their victims, but this just may be one of the most heinous forms of bullying out there, and it is effecting people of all ages, races, sexes, and religions around the world, and reports of it are increasing every single day!
So what am I so over-the-top upset about this week? It’s called The Knockout Game, and it is fast becoming all the rage with teens. Why it’s called a game I’m not really sure, however, it is very physical and very dangerous. The way you play is to hit an unsuspecting victim either from behind in the back of the neck, or on the side of the neck. The person who knocks out the unsuspecting victim with one punch is the winner. Can you say YIKES! Is this the ultimate form of bullying or what? Kids, and this includes girls my friends, who engage in this crazy behavior say it shows their superiority, their masculinity, not to mention the notoriety and false sense of importance these bullies feel after such a brutal attack . They say they enjoy the challenge. One bully told authorities that although they take cell phones and cash it’s not about robbing people. It’s a competition! One kid boasted. The knockout packs as they are called target the small, the weaker, and they travel in groups.
On June 23, 2011, in St. Louis, Missouri, the attackers were screaming f*cking f*ggot at 22-year old Matthew McLeod. McLeod told police that he was first struck in the eye and nose, then, when that punch didn’t knock him off of his feet, a second attacker struck him in the jaw, thus sending him to the ground. He claims he heard the kid yell, I won! McLeod suffered a broken nose, sore jaw and a black eye. The attackers were 15- and 16-years old, respectively. These teen bullies admitted that they targeted McLeod because he looked feminine.
These knockout packs don’t just target people they believe to be gay. There was another attack in St. Louis in April of 2011. An elderly Vietnamese man and his wife were attacked. The man was murdered as they were walking home from the grocery store. You heard me right—MURDERED!!!
As you will hear in the following report, incidents are increasing and being reported around there world! It’s a really scary thing. Here is a recent report dated November 25, 2013, about the so-called Knockout Game from John Ladarola:
What the hell is wrong with people?
Where are these kids parents?
So many questions, so few answers!
So here’s my question to you: What can we do to stop these knockout packs, these bullies, from attacking people? I’d also love to know if you’ve ever had any experience with this Knockout Game. Let’s hear your thoughts, and let’s talk about it, and see if we can come up with some solutions.
While searching the web this morning, I found this terrific little prayer and I knew that I needed to re-post it for you. I rarely inject religion into these posts, however, I thought this one was more spiritual than religious. I hope you like it. It was written by Claudia Broome. I hope you enjoy this week’s video as well. Charlie Brown and The Beatles teamed up for this great little montage to the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
My wish for everyone around the world is to a have a peaceful and wonderful day, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but everyday of the year.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!
Bullies: A Thanksgiving Prayer
Written by Claudia Broome
Dear God, hopefully you are listening. I know how busy you are.
Will you please teach bullies that being kind can make you feel good too? Will you help them understand that they can be just as happy if they don’t laugh at me or call me names?
I know I’m just a kid but I know about these things. Well, I’m sure you already know all about me. You know how sad I am. You know how alone I am. And you know how afraid I am.
Maybe you could visit the bullies as they have their Thanksgiving dinners and somehow teach them that Thanksgiving should be about being thankful and helping people who are alone.
I never tried to be mean to anyone because that just isn’t right. You and my mom taught me that. They don’t even have to say sorry, I’ll forgive them if they just stop laughing at me and calling me names. Well, I forgive them anyway but it would make me happier if they stopped.
When they are eating their Thanksgiving dinners, maybe you could just whisper in their ears that bullying makes you unhappy. That could make a really big difference because after all, you are God and you are very, very important at least to some people.
I’m not important and nobody cares if I die, at least that’s what they tell me. I know you understand how I feel because your son was bullied too.
So God, please help the bullies and their parentsunderstand what it feels like. Maybe you could even tell them about your son Jesus and how much he suffered.
My mom has to work on Thanksgiving but that’s okay because she loves me just like you do. I’m used to being alone so don’t worry about me for now because it’s more important that you help the bullies understand that they are upsetting you too.
I love you God and I know you love me and that sure helps. Oh and I almost forgot to ask you if you will tell the kids who are watching to do something to help kids being bullied?
In honoring those kids who have committed suicide because of constantly being beat-down by their bullies, I think about one little girl in-particular. Her name is Ashlynn Connor. She was only 10-years old when she committed bullycide. Click on the link to read her story. Ashlynn was relentlessly bullied by several girls in her school for over three years. The only thing her young brain understood was the pain and humiliation of constantly being ridiculed. After Ashlynn’s death her mother admitted that she was fully aware of the bullying, but she didn’t know what to do about it. Ashlynn’s mother is not alone! As I travel around the country and meet parents who have lost their children to bullycide, I more often than not hear that although they knew what was going on with their children they did nothing because either they didn’t know what to do, or they were afraid to cause more trouble. Cause more trouble?Really? To those parents who plead ignorance – WAKE UP!
If you are a teenager reading this it may sound like it’s information only for your parents, but it’s for you as well. If you are being bullied, communicate…tell someone, and keep telling people: teachers, counselors, parents, adults, your friends, UNTIL YOU GET SATISFACTION that you will not be beat down or hurt by these bullies. I promise you this: LIFE IS WORTH LIVING!!!
First parents, most of your kids aren’t going to tell you they’re being bullied. They’re going through enough crap from their peers without having to put up with whatever you might add. They’re afraid you just might get involved and make things worse for them. Here’s the thing parents – and sorry if this sounds harsh – scientists have told us that a kid’s brain isn’t developed enough to think these things through properly…but yours is! I have spoken to many parents of kids who are or have been bullied. If you ask me, every single one of them knew it was going on and many of them knew how bad it was.
Communicationis the first line of defense.
Whether or not your child opens up to you, you have a responsibility to say something to them if have even an inkling that they are being bullied. Oh, and parents of bullies – you’re not in the clear over this. Most of you are completely aware that your kid is a bully – you have just as much of an obligation to speak to your child if not more so. Yeah Kevin, we hear you, but how do we speak out without our kids turning their backs on us? I’m so glad you asked. If your child does open up to you about what’s going on with him or her:
Take Your Child Seriously
It’s that simple.
If your child doesn’t open up to you, you need to sit them down, calmly, without emotion, and ask them what’s going on. If you follow all of these suggestions, more often than not, most kids will come clean. If they don’t, be persistent! If they plead with you not to go to the school – don’t listen to them! If teachers and administrators don’t already know they need to know! Again, when speaking with school officials try to keep your emotions out of it. You’re likely to get more cooperation from the school. Remember, as bullying is brought out of the closet more and more, schools are training their teachers and administrators how to handle these situations. They are becoming trained professionals! Assure your child of this. Also assure them that you will do everything in your power not to make it worse for them. Love your child! Hug your child! Tell them that they are your whole life, in fact, your whole world. Only once you and your child are on the same page can you work together to make it better right now.
Here’s the one that a lot of parents miss – if you believe that your teen needs help – GET IT! I mean it! I know most of you wear blinders when it comes to your kids. But don’t you think it’s time you took them off for the sake of your child – for the sake of your child’s life??? I’m just sayin’.
Oh and teens…I know how hard it is to stand up to your bullies and talk to them…trust me….I’ve been there…but, if you can, and you feel safe enough to do it than say something. Say, with authority, something as simple as: What’s your problem? In most instances the bully isn’t expecting you to say anything. He or she expects you to be intimidated by them and act like a mouse. When they realize that you aren’t afraid of them many of the bullies will back off. If you’re really feeling brave try to engage your bully in conversation. Ask them why do they feel the need to pick on you.Try it you might be surprised. I must, however, again stress that if you believe you are in danger, don’t be a hero! Go to your parents, a trusted teacher, or an authority figure for help. If we all work together, and talk to each other, COMMUNICATE, we can break this cycle of violence called bullying.
This week I have also added Paul E. Hauan, Cade John Poulos, and Amanda Todd to the Honor Roll of Victims of Bullycide. His mother reported that Paul took his own life after receiving a disturbing text message. She, and others in the community have confirmed that Paul was a constant target of the bullies at his school. We now honor Paul, and will never forget him.
In light of the increased reports of bullycide as a reslt of cyberbullying, (the latest being 12-year old Rebecca Sedwick of Lakeland, Florida – whom I will be adding to the Honor Roll of Victims of Bullycide in the coming days) I’ve decided it’s time to reprise and update one of my older post’s regarding this subject. Just in case you thought that bullycide because of cyberbullying was rare, just ask Erin Gallagher, Jasmyn Smith, Lara Burns and Paul Hauan, all of whom I will also be adding to the Honor Roll of Victims of Bullycide in the coming days.
I found the above video on YouTube. It’s a video made by Childnet International about Cyberbullying. Childnet International is based in the United Kingdom. Their mission is to work in partnership with others around the world to help make the Internet a great and safe place for children. With that said, and as you can tell by the title of this week’s blog, I’m going to tell you my thoughts about cyberbullying.
My guess is the experts and the statistics have it all wrong! My guess is that most, if not all of us, have at one time or another been cyberbullied. Now, I hear many of you asking where I’m coming from, but think about it – have you ever gotten a text message or an email that was negative and hurtful where the author intentionally meant to cause harm? or have you ever read a hateful blog and cringed, thinking , are they talking about me? or have you ever been sent distasteful and rude photos of someone you might know? Sadly, we can’t totally avoid it in today’s tech-savvy world. Whether it be emails, instant messages, blogs, online polls, websites, text messaging, over the phone, chat rooms, bulletin boards, tumblr, the twitterverse and social media networking sites like Formspring, FaceBook and MySpace. The opportunity for cyberbullying is everywhere, and there are bullies young and old chomping at the bit to make life miserable for as many people as possible. The reality is, the reason cyberbullying is so effective is because people can and will say things in cyberspace that they would never say face-to-face and they can do it anonymously. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, cyberbullying affects all of us – young and old – none of us is immune from it. Now…here’s the truth:
Words Hurt…Words Kill
More and more bullycides occurring today are as a result of cyberbullying.
So, short of shutting down the entire electronic world – and that ain’t happening my friends – what do we do?
We need to start a grassroots movement to teach respect. If you ask me, respect begins at home. Do you hear me moms and dads?
We need to start a revolution!
Who better to start this revolution than we here at MIBRN. Every time you see something on the internet that is intentionally hateful and harmful, you need to report it. Period! If you don’t know where to start with reporting things you believe have no right to be on the internet and are hateful, feel free to contact me, Mr. Kevin, and we will figure it out together. Many states either have, or are in the process of passing, new anti-cyberbullying laws – laws that include the creation of agencies to regulate cyberbullying. But, if nobody says anything all the laws in the world will be completely useless.
The other things you can do are shun the bullies and send messages of support to the victim. Victims need to know that they are not alone and that you – that we – care. It’s time for all of us to get passionate about cyberbullying.
Here’s an excerpt from the experts at kidshealth.org on what to do about cyberbullying:
What to Do
If you’re being bullied, harassed, or teased in a hurtful way — or know someone who is — there is no reason to suffer in silence. In fact, you absolutely should report upsetting IMs, emails, texts, etc.
Tell someone. Most experts agree: The first thing to do is tell an adult you trust. This is often easier said than done. People who are cyberbullied may feel embarrassed or reluctant to report a bully. Some may hesitate because they’re not 100% sure who is doing the bullying. But bullying can escalate, so speak up until you find someone to help.
Most parents are so concerned about protecting their kids that sometimes they focus on taking all precautions to stop the bullying. If you’re being bullied and worry about losing your Internet or phone privileges, explain your fears to your parents. Let them know how important it is to stay connected, and work with them to figure out a solution that doesn’t leave you feeling punished as well. You may have to do some negotiating on safe phone or computer use — the most important thing is to first get the bullying under control.
You can also talk to your school counselor or trusted teacher or other family member. If the bullying feels like it’s really getting you down (like if it’s affecting your sleep or concentration), counseling can help. If you’re not ready for that, you can still benefit from the support of a trusted adult.
Walk away. What you’ve heard about walking away from a real-life bully works in the virtual world too. Ignoring bullies is the best way to take away their power, but it isn’t always easy to do (both in the real world and online).
If you see something upsetting, try to step away from the computer or turn off your phone for a while. Don’t respond (or forward the message to someone else). Find something to distract yourself from what’s going on. Do something you love that doesn’t give you time to think about what’s happening, like playing the guitar, going for a run, or immersing yourself in a book or movie. You can also just chat with a parent or sibling or play with a pet.
Taking a break like this allows you to keep things in perspective and focus on the good things in your life. It also gives you time to figure out how you want to handle things.
Resist the urge to retaliate or respond. Walking away or taking a break when you’re faced with online bullying gives you some space so you won’t be tempted to fire back a response or engage with the bully or bullies. Responding when we’re upset can make things worse. (Standing up to a bully can be effective sometimes, but it’s more likely to provoke the person and escalate the situation.) Taking a break gives the power back to you!
Although it’s not a good idea to respond to a bully, it is a good idea to save evidence of the bullying if you can. It can help you prove your case, if needed. You don’t have to keep mean emails, texts, or other communications where you see them all the time — you can forward them to a parent or save them to a flash drive.
Report bullying to your service provider. Sites like Facebook and YouTube take it seriously when people use their sites to post cruel or mean stuff or set up fake accounts. If users report abuse, the site administrator may block the bully from using the site in future. If you’re being harassed by someone sending you mean texts or emails, you can complain to phone service or email providers (such as Gmail, Verizon, Comcast, and Yahoo).
Block the bully. Most devices have settings that allow you to electronically block the bully or bullies from sending notes. If you don’t know how to do this, ask a friend or adult who does.
Be safe online. Password protect your cell phone and your online sites, and change your passwords often. Be sure to share your passwords only with your parent or guardian. It’s also wise to think twice before sharing personal information or photos/videos that you don’t want the world to see. Once you’ve posted a photo or message, it can be difficult or impossible to delete. So remind yourself to be cautious when posting photos or responding to someone’s upsetting message.
As you will recall, last week I introduced you to Mrs. Willis’s kindergarten students. They began working on one of the projects I was telling you about last week. This project is called “GOOD FRIENDS”. Mrs. Willis read a book about making good friends and treating each other with respect. The children were than asked to draw a picture of “good friends” and dictate at least one way that good friends interact. Let’s meet some of those children now in this sneak-peak.
I hope you guys learn something from these children who are all full of wisdom. I know I did!
Sometimes, no matter how much research I do, I get it wrong. First, it is important that I apologize to Jessica Logan’s family and friends for reporting misinformation. For those of you who know me, you know that my intentions are NEVER to hurt anybody. My attempt is to honor those who have lost their lives to the bullies of this sometimes cruel world by telling their stories in a respectful, positive way.
Earlier this week I received an email from Cynthia Logan, Jessica Logan’s mother. She asked me to set the record straight about her daughter. In my original post I reported, as was widely reported by the media, that Jessica sexted a nude picture of herself to her boyfriend. While taking a nude picture of yourself on your cell phone is never a good idea, in and of itself, is not a crime. Jessica’s only mistake was making the bad decision to take the photo. What actually happened next was much more sinister than Jessica herself sending the photo to her boyfriend. Complete with a police incident report to back-up what really occurred, we learned that the photo, which Jessica never sent to anyone, including her boyfriend at the time, was stolen off of her cell phone by a couple of girls who got a hold of Jessica’s phone and sent the picture to everyone on Jessica’s contact list. Shortly after Jessica died, these girls admitted to Jessica’s best friend, Sami Bruce, what they had done. A core group of 4 girls and Jessica’s ex-boyfriend took it upon themselves to maliciously send the photo to four (4) school districts…and only God knows where it went from there. As you will see when you read Jessica Logan’s story, she lost her battle to these bullies on July 3, 2008. Jessica was an artist extraordinaire! She not only excelled in the art of drawing, but the art of writing as well. To see her story either click on the link on the left-hand side of this page, or Jessica’s picture above.
Sadly, 5-years later, the media continues to report that Jessica is to blame, even after the facts have been plainly presented for all to see. Sami wrote this understandably scathing piece asking the media to STOP reporting that this was Jessica’s fault. Here’s that statement:
Seriously? Get your facts right! I find this extremely offensive because Jessie was my dear friend. Journalists who continue to report that Jessie was the one who sent the photograph are WRONG. One of her “friends” was the one who STOLE the photo off of Jessie’s phone and sent it to whoever she thought would like to see it. She’s an evil, merciless being who looked at me dead in the eyes after we buried Jessie a week prior and smirked about how she was the one who sent the photo. As a journalist, we have to give details but THE RIGHT ONES. Every news station, newspaper, magazine and any other form of media has failed to state the truth about Jessie’s case. Where is your law and ethics? What happened to reporting the truth? Is it merely to raise your viewing rates because sexting was such a hot topic at that time? C’mon people. Where’s the dignity? For all of you reading this, know the truth and spread the word. Jessie was innocent and never demeaned herself like everyone is stating. This angers the Logan’s tremendously because we all know the truth but everyone fails to see it. I’m glad Cynthia Logan and her husband, Bert can now find peace because they are amazing people who deserve it and I love them with all my heart. As for Sycamore, you have a problem but fail to see it. Wake up!
Cynthia Logan told me in one of our email exchanges this week:
My daughter’s only mistake was taking the photo. The rest was the fault of the abusive peers decimating the photo, and the school officials who were not charged in our lawsuit. It is a shame a school can get away with this crime. They had no regard for my teenager.
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, you heard right, NO ONE has ever been charged with this heinous crime, not the students involved in initially disseminating the photo, and not the school system that was completely aware of the situation and chose to cover it up. They didn’t even report what they knew to Jessica’s family. Sure, they reported that she was constantly truant, but did they mention WHY? They did not. For that they absolutely need to be taken to task. I know that this blog is small, but it is mighty. I only hope and pray that it will be the springboard to restoring Jessica Logan’s dignity and rightful place in history.
As I reported to you last week, we are in the midst of National Bullying Prevention Month. Wednesday was Unity Day. Students from around the world were asked to wear orange in support of bullying prevention. Now I want to introduce you to a terrific group of boys and girls. They are a kindergarten class from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With the help of their teacher, Mrs. Willis (Tara as she is known to me) , you will get to meet each of these great kids in the coming days and months. They will be involved in various anti-bullying projects throughout the school year. I can’t wait for you to meet them. Here’s a sneak-peek of a couple of pictures taken during one of their bullying prevention events on Wednesday:
The End of Bullying Begins with Me: that’s the message during PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Month in October. It’s a time when communities can unite nationwide to raise awareness of bullying prevention through events, activities, outreach, and education. PACER created the campaign in 2006 with a one-week event which has now evolved into a month-long effort that encourages everyone to take an active role in the bullying prevention movement. The MIBRN community has vowed to do just that. I am asking all of you to join this movement with me not only through the month of October, but all year-long.
There are two important dates to mark on your calendars:
1. Unity Day: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
What are your true colors when it comes to bullying? If you care about students who are bullied and want bullying to end, make your color ORANGE on Unity Day, Wednesday, Oct. 9. That’s the day everyone can link together — in schools, communities and online — and send one large, ORANGE message of support to students who have experienced bullying. We began a tradition last year of asking you guys to send a pic of you in your ORANGE. I’ll start:
2. Spirit Day: October 17, 2013
SPIRIT DAY was started in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. On Spirit Day, Thursday, October 17th, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities will wear PURPLE, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. (I bet many of you didn’t know that each of the colors in the rainbow flag has a meaning and a powerful message not only for those in the LGBTQ community, but for all of humanity.) Getting involved is easy – simply to goPURPLE as we work to create a world in which LGBTQ teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are. I’m ready! Are you?
What other actions can you take? I’m so glad you asked! These are ideas taken directly from the www.pacer.org website. PACER is one of our featured resources. Check them out by clicking on the link on the right side of this screen.
1. Talk with your local media about bullying prevention and the activities happening in your own community;
2. Submit a video, story, poem, artwork, or audio clip expressing how you feel about bullying, how you think it affects students and schools, what you have done to prevent bullying, or what others can do to prevent bullying. Click on this link;
3. Tell why “you care about bullying prevention”; and
4. Spread the word on social media.
“The culture of bullying won’t end until people across the country take action and show kids that they care,” says Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. “National Bullying Prevention Month is a great opportunity to do that. This is a very real and painful issue that kids are facing but they don’t have to face it alone. Bullying can be prevented if we all work together to change the culture.”
Thank you, Julie, we here at MIBRN couldn’t agree more!
By the way, I found this week’s video on the PACER’s website. I thought it was really cool and had such a positive message.
On September 11, 2001, I lost my best friend, a bond trader in the World Trade Center. It’s of little consolation that the biggest bully of our time, Osama bin Laden, was brought to a final and lasting justice a couple of years ago. Although I am very happy he is gone, never to bully again, it will not bring back my best friend, a man who I was beginning to fall in love with.
Although this year saw the beginning of the fall of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) I am still very sad that our community continues to be treated as second-class citizens. Many of us lost our life partners that day. Many of us, however, are not eligible for a whole host of survivors benefits, including pensions, social security benefits and special memorial fund payments. To be fair, in my case my relationship was its infancy, therefore any and all benefits rightfully went to his family. There, however, were many victims in life-long committed relationships, many of whom would likely be married to each other had that option been available in 2001, who continue to fight for partnership benefits to this day, 12 years later.
All who died that day were heroes. Surveys show that approximately 50 of the 3700 lives that were lost on 9/11 were members of the LQBTQ community. That’s 13.5% for those of you doing the math. I would like to highlight and honor two of the more prominent members of our community who selflessly gave their lives that day so that others may live.
First, and foremost, is New York Fire Department Catholic Chaplin Father Mychal Judge. He was the first recorded death of 9/11, and he was a friend of mine. Among his many affiliations Mychal was a member of Dignity New York. Dignity USA is a national organization that supports gay catholics. I will never forget and forever miss his beautiful smile at our Sunday evening masses. He was once quoted as saying, I love you, just love each other the best you can. Words we all need to live by. He died when a piece of debris from the World Trade Center fell on him while he was giving last rites to a fallen fire fighter. In June 2002, President Bush signed the Mychal Judge Act which granted federal funds to certain survivors of victims of 9/11, including same-sex partners. Although I am not a big fan of George Bush there is no denying that by signing the Mychal Judge Act into law he took one giant leap in advancing the civil rights of the LGBTQ community.
One of the most selfless acts of heroism took place aboard United Airlines Flight 93. Several passengers on that flight led by Todd Beamer and Mark Bingham sacrificed their lives for the lives of countless others, by crashing the jet into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know the story by now. But, did you know that Mark, who was voted Person of the Year 2001, awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and nominated for the Medal of Freedom, was openly gay. Mark almost missed his flight that fateful morning and was the last to board the plane. His partner of six years, Paul Holm, described Mark as brave; as a man who would and previously had risked his life to protect the lives of others. Many say that day he became a great American patriotic idol, and certainly an emblematic figure in the gay community.
I find it ironic that Al Qaeda, one of the most homophobic organizations in the world produced so many gay heros on the day they had planned to show the United States and the World that they were in control. Here’s a link which describes several more 9/11 LGBTQ heros who died for you and me: September 11, 2001: Gay Victims & Heros. May they all rest in peace in the knowledge that they will never be forgotten.
In case you were unaware, all of the proceeds of sales through September 30, 2013 of my award-winning short story, Touched by an Angelare being donated to Tuesday’s Children. Tuesday’s Children is a non-profit organization providing support and services for the children of 9/11 and others impacted by global terrorism. Please pick-up your copy if you haven’t already done so. It’s for a great cause! Thank you for your love and support. Here’s the amazon link to the ebook: Touched By An Angel, a 9/11 Short Story.