Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Facebook Launches Suicide Prevention Tool- Bullying Epidemic!

Bullying and youth suicide has become a popular topic today.  It seems as though every week there are new stories of the tragic deaths of children and teens who were tormented by their peers.

Now, Facebook has even taken steps to try to help those who may be having suicidal thoughts. The company introduced changes that allow any user to highlight content from a friend or acquaintance they believe may be the result of suicidal thoughts or behaviour. Once the user highlights the content, the person who posted it will receive a direct link to a private, online chat session with a counsellor.

Facebook will then email the user in distress a direct link for a private online chat with a crisis representative from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as well as the group's phone number.

According to Reuters, the new tool gives people who may not be comfortable picking up the phone a direct avenue to seek help.
"This was a natural progression from something we've been working on for a long time," Wolens said.
It's important that there is a finally a growing awareness of this rising epidemic in bullying. Education is the key.   Everyone needs to be aware of the signs of bullying and what to do when you spot a situation.  That is why I wrote a short handbook that I am giving away- free of charge.  You can get your free copy here.

Do you know that there are different types of bullying?

Physical Bullies
This includes hitting or kicking the victim.  Also taking or damaging the victim's property. This is the most obvious type of bullying because it is so easy to spot. Physical bullies are usually known to the entire population in the school.

Verbal Bullies
Verbal bullies use words to hurt or humiliate another person. This would include name-calling, insulting, making racist comments and teasing. This type of bullying is the easiest to inflict on other children. It can be done quickly and on the sly.  Its effects can be more devastating than physical bullying, because these scars stay with you forever.

Relational Bullies
Relational or relationship bullies try to convince their peers to exclude or reject a certain person or people and cut the victims off from their social connections. This type of bullying is linked to verbal bullying and usually occurs when children (most often girls) spread nasty rumors about others or exclude an ex-friend from the peer group. The most devastating effect with this type of bullying is the rejection by the peer group at a time when children most need their social connections.
For more on types of bullying click here.

This could be a great opportunity to open the dialog with the children in your life:

Can you identify the type of bullying in the scenarios below?

This is a situation where Ally and Bella are playing and then Jenny asks them if she can play too.  Ally and Bella roll their eyes and tell Jenny that she can not play with them.
This is hurtful and Jenny will feel that she is being left out or ostracized.
This is relational bullying.

Here's another situation where Bobby and Nick think it's really funny to hide Jimmy's coat.  Jimmy asks them if they know where it is, but they will not tell him.  Jimmy is upset.  He has to go to recess, in the cold, with no coat.  Plus, he will get in trouble at home when he must tell his parents that he lost his coat. 

This is cruel and humiliating. 
This is physical bullying.

In this situation Jenny walks in the bathroom and finds Ally and Bella combing their hair.  Jenny says, "Hi." and Ally and Bella ignore her and then Ally says, "Why are your sleeves rolled up Jenny- it's winter!" and then Ally and Bella laugh at Jenny.  Jenny leaves the bathroom in tears.  She will be upset all day and have a hard time sleeping that night.  She is humiliated and hurt. 

This is hurtful and humiliating.  It is very mean to make fun of someone and laugh at them.
This is verbal bullying.

Another situation could be where Bobby and Nick are playing on the basketball team and they never pass the ball to Jimmy-even when Jimmy is in the perfect position and he's open to catch the ball.

This is wrong.  It is hurtful and mean to exclude Jimmy. Everyone deserves their turn.
 This is relational bullying.

In life- not just sports- we must realize that we only win when we are team players.  When we work together as a team we always succeed.  We all need to treat each other with kindness and love.
God said, "Treat others as you would want to be treated."  So before you do something mean or thoughtless to someone- think of how you would feel if they did the same to you?

Here are some random facts about bullies:

Even though a bully will insult their victim and try to ridicule the way the victim looks, the fact is- most bullies are unattractive. And even if they were attractive, they would still look ugly because of their ugly behavior.

The purpose of bullying is to hide the fact that they are not very smart.  In reality, they are weak and incompetent.  They want to take all attention away from their inadequacy.  Even though the bully puts on a big show, with the ability to attract and intimidate many followers, bullies have low self-confidence and low self-esteem, and thus feel insecure. Low self-esteem is a factor proven in all studies of bullying.

Bullies operate on resentment, bitterness, hatred and anger, and often have wide-ranging prejudices against anyone who is different. Bullies are driven by jealousy and envy. Rejection is another powerful motivator of bullying.

Today, bullying behaviors at school are recognized as dangerous and harmful acts that victimize the targeted student and bystanders. Bullying can no longer be dismissed as harmless teasing.  Bullying is a pattern of deliberate, negative, hurtful, aggressive acts that works to shift the balance of physical, emotional, or social power.  This is a hate crime.  Yes a crime.

They are currently working on legislature to pass laws that will ensure if someone if convicted of bullying, as a child, they will go to a juvenile detention facility or if they are a teenager or adult, they will most likely be tried as an adult and go to prison.

If you are or have been a victim of a bully, you are in good company.  Some famous people who have been bullied include:
  • Lady Gaga
  • Robert Patterson- yes, Edward from Twilight
  • Kristen Stewart- Bella from Twilight
  • Taylor Lautner- Jacob from Twilight
  • Daniel Radcliffe- star of Harry Potter movies
  • Emma Watson- the star from the Harry Potter movies
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Prince Harry
  • Kate Middleton
  • Michael Phelps
  • Christine Aguilara
  • Chris Rock
  • Pierce Brosnan- that's James Bond
  • Bill Clinton- a former president of the United States
  • Tiger Woods
  • Demi Lovato
  • Rhianna
  • Taylor Swift
  • Justin Timberlake
So, please keep your eyes open.  Whether you are a student or a parent or a teacher,  you must watch out for your fellow "team members".   As a decent human being, it is everyone's responsibility to keep our children safe.  Remember, "It takes a village to raise a child".  If you see any bullying behavior- be brave and do the right thing.  Your action could save a life.

As I mentioned earlier, I have written a short handbook to help you spot the signs and know what to do when you recognize bullying behavior.  I am giving away the book - free of charge.  Let's get the word out! The book is 'The Bullying Epidemic-the guide to arm you for the fight'
and you can get your free copy here

Picture: Sad girl Credit: