Every month of the year is some kind of an “awareness month.”
In fact, for any given month, multiple causes claim that month as a time to make people aware of a particular need, disease, condition, fact, etc. Unfortunately, because of the abundance of these dedicated times, very few actually are able to draw a significant amount of attention to their cause or make an impact.
I hope that National Bullying Prevention Month becomes one of those causes that makes a huge impact.
Why do I care about National Bullying Prevention Month (AKA Anti Bullying Awareness Month)?
One reason is Amanda Todd.
You may have heard about her on the news recently. After having gone through some horrific experiences that included both cyber-bullying and face-to-face attacks, Amanda told her story via a YouTube video, posted on September 7th.
In the description of the video, Amanda wrote:
I’m struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply. I’m not doing this for attention. I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong. I did things to myself to make pain go away, because I’d rather hurt myself then someone else. Haters are haters but please don’t hate, although im sure I’ll get them. I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and everyones future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through. I’m still here aren’t I?
On October 10th, a little more than a month after she wrote those words and posted the video, 15-year-old Amanda took her own life.
Ryan was 13 years old.
Or perhaps we might consider the 7-year-old boy from Detroit who hung himself in his bedroom earlier this year. Although he was struggling with multiple issues, including his parents’ separation, bullying was cited as a factor in his death.When I was growing up, we had a saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
That’s not true.
And with the pervasiveness of the Internet, social media, instant messaging, and other technologies, for many kids there is no escape.
Granted, not every bullied child will commit suicide. According to Teendepression.org, between 15 and 25 cases of “bullycide” are reported every year. However, because it’s often difficult to determine whether bullying played a part in a child or teen’s suicide, that number could well be much higher.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
There are thousands of children who live every day with the pain, the humiliation, the degradation of being picked on by bullies.
As I wrote last week, we can never totally stop bullying.
But by raising awareness, we can sure put a dent in it. And we can offer hope to those kids who up till now have felt hopeless.
That’s why I care about National Bullying Prevention Month. And I hope you will, too.
Next week, I’ll share what I believe to be some bright spots in the anti-bullying movement. If you want to suggest some resources for me to consider, leave a comment on this post.
Finally, I’ve attached Amanda Todd’s video. It’s almost nine minutes long, but I encourage you to invest the time and watch it. In those nine minutes, Amanda silently and eloquently captured the pain that thousands of children and teens live with each day.
It is my hope and prayer that Amanda’s video may touch hearts and call attention to the evil of bullying.
May her legacy be one of healing.
Image #1 Credit: © ayelet_keshet – Fotolia.com
Image #2 Credit: © Helder Almeida – Fotolia.com