Is Aloha State in Denial Regarding High Teenage Suicide Rate and Bullying? 2

Da’Nile is more than a river in Egypt! It is a common saying although I added the Hawaiian lingo Da’ for the. Despite support from many around the country, the movie, Bully is only showing in one small theater on Oahu and the media coverage here is appalling. This is despite the fact that a 2008 study showed that Hawaii ranks high in teen suicides and PBS Hawaii noted in 2010 that Hawaii teenagers attempted suicide at more than twice the national average.

The seemly lack of response to Bully and to the victims of bullying by some in our country is disturbing, but it is especially so in Hawaii. Does the media assume that when the DOE released their anti-bullying program in October that this magically solved the problem? I cannot place my finger on the cause. It could be the fact that too many see that the movie does not give solutions to the problem and many have problems with this.

I did too until I realized how much information the Bully Project put together on their site to help solve the problem. I am not linking you directly because the site uses index flash and takes a while to load. It it better for you to go to the site directly. Go to http://thebullyproject.com/ and click Get Tools & Resources to find a wealth of information for parents, students, educators, and advocates that includes guides to help teachers and others use the movie as a starting point for teaching students kindness and empathy. There is much more information too about setting up school programs to address the problem.

Apathetic behavior and failure of those in charge of our schools to accept accountability is a big part of the bullying problem in my humble opinion. It is the thing that still angers me when I think of what my daughter went through. It is a greater danger than anything else. It is only when teenagers feel all hope is lost that they turn to suicide, and it is the apathetic attitudes of the adults in our schools that lead them down this path.

I cannot get my daughter’s former school to apologize to her anymore than I can get others to understand this. Still there is hope. Thankfully there are others who are making a difference. The Dalai Lama visited one local school during his recent visit and honored them for playing a part in making the world a better place. Read about it: Aloha, Dalai Lama – MidWeek.

I have so much more to say about the movie, Bully, but you’ll have to wait until May fourth when you can read about it at Special-Ism.com. I urge each of you to see the movie and visit the site.

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Broken Kids Are Breaking All of Us 4

By Annie Fox

This post was originally published on Annie Fox’s blog on October 2, 2010 and is republished here with her permission. I hope you value her views as much as I do. Mahalo Annie!

Yesterday my friend Rachel wrote to find out if I’d blogged yet about the cyberbullying incident that ended in a Rutgers University freshman killing himself. I told her the news had really depressed me but that I didn’t have any insights that couldn’t be found elsewhere. I mean what do you say when (yet another) teen is so victimized by bullies he/she can’t figure out what the hell to do to make things OK again and gives up everything just to end the suffering? I’ve got nothing to say. I’m sitting here crying. The casualness with which these acts of torment are perpetrated absolutely stuns me. But what else is new?

So, no.  I wasn’t going to write anything.

Then I watched Ellen Degeneres on video talking about this senseless act of cruelty. Looking straight at the camera and with obvious emotion Ellen said, “It’s hard enough being a teen and figuring out who you are without people attacking you.” To the adults watching she said, “There are messages everywhere that validate this kind of bullying and taunting and we have to make it stop.” And to the kids watching, she offered this, “…things will get easier. People’s minds will change and you should be alive to see it.”

Still I was not going to blog about what happened to Tyler Clementi and what he did as a result. Even though his death was the fourth in a string of Welcome Back-to-School homophobic attacks on teens that ended in suicide. It all sucks, but what more is there to say?

Then I listened to Justin Patchin of the Cyberbullying Research Center, a clearinghouse of information dedicated to providing information about  ”…the nature, extent, causes and consequences of cyberbullying amongst adolescents.” Patchin told NPR’s Melissa Block that when he speaks to teens who use their phones and computers to commit these acts of intentional cruelty they “genuinely do not realize that harm could come from it.” He went on to say that these kids “don’t see it as something wrong.” Rather, they think of what they’re doing as “fun or funny” and “not that big of a deal.”

That’s when I knew I needed to write. The tormentors don’t see it as something wrong?! For real?!! If that’s the case then we’re looking at a whole lot of broken kids. Broken in a way that prevents them from thinking beyond the itch of “Hey I got a great idea!” So broken they blithely launch a personally addressed cluster bomb packed with malice and truly believe it’s “not a big deal.”

With kids like that as our only hope for the future we ‘d be in deep doodoo.

Fortunately, these aren’t the only kids out there. There are plenty of kids and adults who aren’t buying into the notion that any of this is fun or funny. They’re deadly serious about fighting back, supporting each other and changing the Culture of Cruelty for any kid, tween or teen who’s catching flak for being different. GLBT teens, check out Dan Savage’s new “It Gets Better” project.

Oh, and by the way, October is National Bullying Prevention Month… Don’t just sit there, be part of the solution.

Annie Fox, M.Ed. is an award-winning author, app developer, and youth empowerment activist. Her books include Too Stressed to Think? and the Middle School Confidential series.  Learn more about Annie’s work with students, parents and teachers at http://anniefox.com

Pacific Rim Disability and Diversity Conference Anyone? 2

I’ll be there as an exhibitor and author and I’ll be giving away ten autographed copies of Delightfully Different. The keynotes and noted speakers looks impressive, and I know there are over 200 speakers total.

Let me know if you are coming! I would love to meet you face to face, and I might even tell you where to find the best beaches and the best shave ice.