As you know, we’ve posted a rash of stories in the last week or so about the many young people who’ve recently committed suicide as a result of bullying. First there was Asher Brown, the 13-year-old boy who shot himself because his classmates made fun of him for being gay. Then 17-year-old Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington bridge because his roommate filmed him with another man and broadcast the event on the Internet. We’ve discovered that kids with food allergies are being bullied, and told you about Tyler Wilson, the 11-year-old boy cheerleader who suffered a broken arm at the hands of school thugs, but who remarkably refuses to be intimidated out of enjoying the sport he loves.
Yesterday, Kirk Smalley, father of 11-year-old Ty Smalley – who killed himself in May due to harassment from his classmates – spoke to CNN’s American Morning about his mission to stop bullying wherever it takes place. He’s not alone in his desire to transform schools and reach out to children who are suffering. Parents, journalists and celebrities are coming out of the woodwork to stand against bullying. Here are some of the projects pioneered by stars and students alike, and information about how you can help.
Savage Love columnist Dan Savage has started the It Gets Better project to let homosexual youth know simply that life gets better as you get older and get out of school. This video starring Savage and his husband Terry moved me to tears when I saw it. In it, Dan says, “If there are 14, 15 and 16 year olds… 13-year-olds, 12-year-olds… out there watching this video, what I’d love you to take away from it really is that it gets better. However bad it is now – it gets better. And it can get great and it can get awesome, your life can be amazing, but you have to tough this period of it out and you have to live your life so that you’re around for it to get amazing. And it can, and it will.”
There are now tons and tons of videos on the It Gets Better YouTube channel, including one from a survivor of the Columbine school shooting. You can even upload your own video – just go to the page I’ve linked above and follow the instructions in the sidebar on the left.
Other celebrities who’ve been been vocal in the campaign against the bullying of homosexuals include Ellen Degeneres, who filmed her own PSA and has posted a list of resources available to GLBT youth on her website. Comedian Sarah Silverman released a YouTube video yesterday on Perez Hilton’s channel speaking out against the deaths of gay teens. In it she says, “Dear America: when you tell gay Americans that they can’t serve their country openly or marry the person that they love, you’re telling that to kids, too.” Silverman says of bullies, “They learned it from watching you.”
The campaign Stomp Out Bullying has declared all of October National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and a list of celebrities including Paul McCartney, Elton John and Celine Dion are all offering items or services in the Third Annual Celebrity Stomp Out Bullying Auction to raise money and awareness.
Students are probably the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to solving the problem of bullying, and the young people at Emerson College showed the world what they’re made of this weekend as they took to the streets of Boston shouting, “Love is Louder” than hate, and carrying “colorful signs with slogans such as Love Is Not Sin and Jesus Has 2 Dads.” The latter of which, I have to admit, is hilariously awesome.
“Love Is Louder is a movement that is hopefully going to bring some awareness and make some noise when it comes to teens who are feeling suicidal or even just sad, outcasts, and being bullied, and really feel like they have nowhere to turn to,” actress Brittany Snow told MTV. You can join unlikely heroines Snooki, JWoww and more at Love is Louder on Facebook.
If you’re not sure how to talk to your kids about bullying, there’s a government site called Stop Bullying Now with tips and tricks and a cartoon interface that may make the conversation easier. LGBT tweens and teens who are in need of help can visit The Trevor Project for support.
Have you seen any other PSA’s you’d like to share, or can you offer information about anti-bullying measures in your community? Please do so in the comments.