April 25, 2009

How Bullying Can Kill

CNN has a good summary of the latest tragedy brought on by a boy being bullied by his schoolmates because he wasn't considered masculine enough.

Allegations of such severe bullying surprises experts familiar with the school district. It's anti-bullying program was considered exemplary and includes programs to raise awareness and a specially trained liaison. Students are even asked to sign a no-bullying pledge. But other parents told CNN they have complained about bullying as well.

Despite recent strides towards preventing bullying in schools and increased awareness programs, a Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network study showed that 65 percent of teens are bullied each year and most believe adults can't help them.

Less than a month before Jaheem's death, a boy in Massachusetts killed himself after being bullied, harassed and called "gay."

Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, says to be effective, awareness programs need to include education about the harm that can be done by teasing someone about sexuality or perceived sexuality.

"Anti-gay language is really the ultimate weapon for a bully who wants to degrade his or her peers," she says. "And any effective response to bullying has to take that on."

Words CAN hurt--they can even kill. AS the GLSEN director was quoted above, people need to be educated so they understand the consequences of their actions.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Jesus was not a bully, and anyone truly interested in following Him instead of just using His name to justify hate doesn't do that.


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