The Wall Street Journal, in a fantastic new piece from Leslie Gore, unveiled the latest cyber-bullying research, which comes out of a poll of 1,000 NYC-area teens and parents (unrelated to each other). The results of the study demonstrate the considerable need for anti-bullying work in the forms of not only awareness, but hands-on preventative measures such as the #Day1 Campaign. We now that about half off all youth identify as victims of cyber-bullying, showing that the problem is more rampant than many have thought.
This data shows that online bullying and harassment is a tremendous problem in our youth culture. Nearly half of all teens say they have been bullied online. 43% of teens say they would be "terrified" if their parents read their texts. 8 in 10 know someone who has bee the victim of cyberbullying. The latest polling results show the need for the preventative work of the Tyler Clementi Foundation and our programs such as #Day1 and the Tyler Clementi Institute for Cyber Safety at New York Law School. Check it out here.
By: Ama Karikari-Yawson Esq., Author of Sunne's Gift and Founder of Milestales Publishing and Education Consulting
The two men on motor cycles were on either side of our Toyota revving their engines. My mother drove further up, then the men drove further up. My mother drove up again. The men followed and revved their engines again. “Nigger bitches” the one on my side said in a low tone. They sped off. Why on earth did they do that? My mom and I were just on our way to Costco to pick up our year's worth of toilet paper like everybody else. It was broad daylight 1998 in New York, not 1928 in Alabama. Why us? Why me?
I never met Tyler Clementi, but as a black woman, I can relate to his experience. I am sure that Tyler also asked himself “why me?”. “Why am I the subject of homophobic vitriol. Why are people laughing at me because of who and how I choose to love? Why am I being bullied?”
Black History Month has ended, but please remember that we are all African-Americans being spat on at lunch counters in 1960, regardless of our skin tones. We are all homosexuals being attacked with baseball bats in Central Park in 1978, regardless of our sexual orientations. We are all German jews in 1940 being walked to gas chambers, regardless of our religions. We are all Marcelo Lucero being beaten to death in Suffolk County in 2008 for being Latino, regardless of our nationalities. We are all Japanese Americans being relocated to internment camps in 1942, regardless of our ancestral origin. We are all wheel chair bound and struggling to get from place to place in 1985, regardless of our ability to walk. We are all women and girls being raped every 107 seconds, regardless of our genitalia.
Why are we all of those people? We are effectually the same because we all know how it feels to be bullied. All bullying, whether attributed to race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, nationality, or physical ability, has the same root, insecurity manifesting as evil personified. All bullying has the same modus operandi, the creation of dehumanizing smear campaigns about the target group. All bullying has the same fuel, silent accomplices who do nothing because they think that someone else is being attacked.
Moreover, bullying spreads like a cancer moving to and from communities of color to gay communities to immigrant communities, and so forth and so on, if left untreated. This is why Martin Luther King told us that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
But thankfully, all bullying also has the same solution, creating a culture of radical self-love, universal acceptance, and appreciation of difference. We can create that culture! Please see my TEDx talk on this very topic.
To Show Your Support for the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act offers pending federal protections for college students against bullying while the Safe Schools Improvement Act would give the same protections for students in K - 12 education. Both bills have been presented before the Congress, but are currently facing an uphill battle in a hostile legislative environment.
To get these bills passed, we need your help! Download this letter or copy/paste it, and add your information and share a story of how bullying has impacted you.
Then, mail your letter to your state Senators and/or Representatives. Don't know who your state politicians are? Visit GovTracks.us and type in your address or zip code! It's that simple.
Thanks for lending your support to these two vitally important pieces of legislation. You're an Upstander!
For more information about the two bills, read on below:
H.R. 1421; S. 773
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act requires colleges and universities receiving federal student aid funding to enact an anti-harassment policy. Specifically, the legislation requires policies that prohibit harassment of enrolled students by other students, faculty and staff based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion and requires colleges to distribute their anti-harassment policy to all students and employees, including prospective students and employees upon request. It also explicitly prohibits behavior often referred to as cyberbullying.
The bill creates a competitive grant program at the Department of Education in which institutions can apply for funding to initiate, expand or improve programs that prevent the harassment of students; provide counseling to victims or perpetrators; or educate or train students, faculty and staff about ways to prevent or address harassment.
Safe Schools Improvement Act
The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to require school districts in states that receive ESEA funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. SSIA would also require that states report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education. The Department of Education would then be required to provide Congress with a report on the state reported data every two years.