I will stab anyone who says “Boys will always be boys”

I wasn’t sure that you need to read yet another post on the recent deaths by suicide* of some very young people in this country. I thought it was all over the news and everybody read/heard about it by now. Besides, I will just be preaching to the choir: I have made a conscientious effort to not attract right-wing ultra-religious anti-gay conservatives to my blog. “Wrong place. You are not going to like what you see here and I am not interested in wasting my time on debating with you. Exit is this way. Thank you very much.”

But fuck that. I am going to write about this. Again. And again. More. We need more discussion, nay, we need more outrage, on this. Not less. No more silence. Fuck silence.

Oh my god. As I was finishing up this post, I heard the news of another suicide by a 10-year-old girl in Allston, MA. What will it take to make this stop??!!

Here’s what happened in the months of September and October:

Billy Lucas hung himself. He was 13.

Asher Brown shot himself. He was 13.

Seth Walsh hung himself and died after being on life support for ten days. He was 13.

Raymond Chase hung himself in his dorm room. He was 19.

Tyler Clementi threw himself over the George Washington Bridge. He was 18.

And remember Carl Walker who hung himself last year? He was only 11.

These young men chose to kill themselves over living with the constant bullying (both physical and emotional).

After the brutal assault-murders of Brandon Teena and Matthew Shepard in the 1990s, we thought we have moved ahead, we have made giant stripes. Apparently, not enough has been done.

What kind of world are we living in that our children did not think there was any other alternative than suicde? That there was any hope that the harassment could ever be stopped?

Immediately there has been an emotional public outcry against the ugliness prevalent in America’s schoolyards. Ellen delivered a gut-wrenching message/plea on her show the day after Tyler’s death. A movement “It Gets Better” was started: celebrities and everyday people posted messages and their own life stories to let young kids know that yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, it does get better.

Neil Patrick Harris. Tim Gunn (who talked about his own suicide attempt). Chris Colfer (who portrays Kurt on Glee, IMO the most multifaceted gay character empowering the teens the country has yet seen, and for his character alone, I believe Glee should be mandatory viewing for every high school followed by discussions led by trained counselors. But more on that in a future post). And many many more have uploaded videos providing encouragement and hope.

The outpouring of emotional support hopefully is reaching those who need it the most, e.g. those who are isolated in Small (in mind and/or in geography) Town, USA, where, if you are a boy, wearing long hair or a lukewarm attitude towards football is enough to brand you the Town Freak.

Though I cry at these videos and am encouraged by the act of people coming together, I still have this gnawing feeling that something else needs to be done. “It Gets Better” puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the oppressed:

Be patient. Grin and bear it. Just wait. High school will be over soon.

But how about NOW?

As Micael puts it rather succintly:

“What I am getting from it all is that yeah, it sucks, but cowboy up.  It gets better.  Fuck better. What about now?”

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NOW looks alarming according to the statistics.

• In the United States, more than 34,000 people die by suicide each year

• Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds, accounting for over 12% of deaths in this age group; only accidents and homicide occur more frequently

• Suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses

• For every completed suicide by a young person, it is estimated that 100 to 200 attempts are made

• Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers

• More than 1/3 of LGB youth report having made a suicide attempt

• Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt

• Questioning youth who are less certain of their sexual orientation report even higher levels of substance abuse and depressed thoughts than their heterosexual or openly LGBT-identified peers

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NOW seems to imply that harassment is just part of expected experience in high school for LGBT students according to the statistics. Just because it is “expected” and “Oh, we all went through it” does not mean we should not try and nip it in the bud. NOW.

• Nine out of 10 LGBT students (86.2%) experienced harassment at school; three-fifths (60.8%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation; and about one-third (32.7%) skipped a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe

• LGBT students are three times as likely as non-LGBT students to say that they do not feel safe at school (22% vs. 7%) and 90% of LGBT students (vs. 62% of non-LGBT teens) have been harassed or assaulted during the past year

• Sexual minority youth, or teens that identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, are bullied two to three times more than heterosexuals

• Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89%) and gender expression (89%)

• LGBT youth in rural communities and those with lower adult educational attainment face particularly hostile school climates

(Statics from The Trevor Project where you can find the sources for data quoted)

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NOW brings shame to this Land of the Free for not doing enough to protect our children according to the statistics. As Keli Goff, one of my favorite bloggers over at HuffPost argued in her post “Why We Shouldn’t Blame the Bullies for the Recent String of LGBT Suicides” (the title is misleading. It should have been “why we should not blame ONLY the bullies”), those who should have protected these children and who should have ensured a safe environment for them failed miserably:

If a young student was called the N-word every day for weeks or months on end, and after repeated cries for help finally took his own life, how quickly do you think citizens of all races would take to the streets to protest? Or better yet, how quickly would Al Sharpton and Co. demand accountability from the school and elected officials under the threat of casting the kind of media spotlight that people like Don Imus have nightmares about?

… I have a hard time believing that if these kids had been bullied for their race, not for their sexual identities, that the adults tasked to protect them would not have reacted differently, or at the very least would have reacted at all.

Which makes me think that the kids doing the bullying are not really the ones at fault. They are simply taking their cues from adults. And the message they are receiving is that today in 2010 it may not be okay to call someone the N-word on the playground, but it is okay to call someone the F-word. [my emphasis]

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I want to believe that the world is changing, that we as a society is coming together over these tragic losses, that ALL now understand how critical it is to confront the rampant and at the same time subtle homophobia prevalent in the U.S. culture, how stupid it is that Americans harbor this rigid view of genders: For example,

Boys + PINK = GAY. Girls + TRUCK = GAY. Boys + ARTS = GAY. Boys + DISLIKE SPORTS = GAY.

Of course I know this is not true. Not yet. I work with some of these people who are convinced that THIS has nothing to do with them, who at most paid cursory attentions to the deaths and the “movement” that’s happening. You see: They are not gay. They don’t have any friends who are gay. They were not bullied at school. They are just “regular” Americans.

I have news for them: Your children may turn out to be gay. Your grandchildren. Your nieces. Nephews. Cousins. And you know what? Bullying does not even have to do with sexual orientation. It does not have to do with anything really. Bullies prey on “differences” and since every individual is different, there is no saying WHICH difference is going to become the target. Your child’s personality or physical traits could become the target for bullying at school for no reason other than your child’s being themselves: your boy may be shy, quiet, reserved, bookish, bad at sports, etc. Your girl may be outgoing, athletic, have an aversion to pretty clothes and pink, etc.

A bully can decide to pick on any child for any reason. And a bully does not necessarily look like Biff Tannen.

I was emotionally bullied in grade school for three years by my entire class. The originator later confided in me that he started it because he liked me. (It’s a long story which I have written about here) It does not matter: I thought about killing myself because in my mind at that time there was simply no way out other than running away from home. This experience forever changed me and later in life I made a suicide attempt. Isn’t it funny? All because a boy liked me in fourth grade.

It could be called the “luck of the draw” whether your child attracts a bully’s attention or not. And girls can both be perpetrators and victims. Remember Phoebe Prince? She was only 15 and she killed herself when she could no longer take the emotional bullying from the Queenbees at her new school.

The kids also do not need to gang upon a victim to make the victim’s life miserable. All it takes is one persistent individual as is evidenced in the tragic death of Ty Field. Ty was an 11-year-old boy with a bright sunny smile. A bully had been bothering him for years but complaints filed with the school had not been effectively handled, and so the bullying continued. In June this year, Ty went home, pointed a gun to his own head and pulled the trigger.

A month after Ty’s suicide, Kirk and Laura Smalley still haven’t done their son’s last load of laundry.

“We just can’t,” Kirk Smiley said. “His Molina jersey still smells like him.”

This makes me cry every time I read it. Kirk Smalley was interviewed on CNN this month because the media finally gets it: Bullying is big news now. Anti-bullying movement is a great human story that they should all vie to report on. (Pardon my cynicism here. Old habits die hard). Mr. Smalley has been trying to get the attention of anybody who would listen because he wants to make sure that bullying is taken seriously. In the interview, Mr. Smalley mentioned one of the responses from the principal was

“Boys will be boys.”

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How many times have you heard this?

Boys will be boys.

Girls will be girls.

Kids will be kids.

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I get stabby every time I hear such a throwaway response. Imagine if during the 1950s people had simply shrugged their shoulders and sighed, “You know, white men will always be white men.” What the fucking fuck? We need to call Bullshit when someone simply shakes their head and says, “What are you gonna do? Boys/Girls will always be boys/girls.”

“What boys are you talking about? Whose boys? Which boys? What kind of behaviors do you consider to fall within the realms that boys naturally do that we should turn the blind eye towards? How far does it go on before it is no longer ‘kids will always be kids’ and becomes ‘Lord of the Flies’? What would you say if I scream in your face and say ‘Oh women will be women because we are all hormonal and hysterical’?  What are the definitions for ‘boys’ other than the anatomical fact of having a penis? Who defines what ‘normal’ boy behaviors are? And who the fuck are you that you think you get to define that?!”

(Ok. You know if I am confronting someone at my kid’s schools, I will only be asking the last question out loud inside my head but writing it out makes me feel less stabby. So thank you for granting me this poetic license here…)

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Let’s talk about this. Let’s all go home and talk to our spouses, our children, our families, our friends about it: If you notice, see, suspect bullying behaviors, report it. And calling people “GAY” maliciously on Facebook counts as 1st-degree bullying in my book.

Let’s all take a stance because we are all in this together.

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* According to The Trevor Project, leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ(uestioning) youth, we should refrain from using the phrase “commit(ed) suicide.” Instead, we should use “died by suicide” or “completed suicide” when describing a fatal suicide attempt.

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Article by Absence Alternatives

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{ 60 comments… add one }

  • Robin October 8, 2010, 2:53 pm

    I wrote about my feelings on all this just recently, I feel slightly different than you but I think our mission is the same. Ever since I was bullied to the point of tears and considering suicide in middle school I’ve had a deep seated anger towards bullying. It’s not ok, ever. It’s disgusting and something should be done about it. One boy in school sexually harassed me for 2 damn years and destroyed my self confidence. When I finally spoke up to a teacher you know what happened to him? A slap on the wrist and he had to miss a hockey game. That was all. He went right back to torturing me. This is the main reason why I don’t think I could ever emotionally become a mother because I would worry so much that this would happen to my kids, I couldn’t handle it. I will never bring a child into this world only to be tortured as obviously society has only increased the torture since I was a kid. At the same time, as I wrote about in detail, I think it helps for some to hear that it will get better and right now is not the end of the world. It’s not a solution but I think it helps, it would have helped me to know I wasn’t alone.
    Robin´s last blog post…The Damn I Happen To Give

    • Absence Alternatives October 8, 2010, 3:28 pm

      I am sorry for what you went through. At least in some school nowadays stringent anti-bullying rules have been set up. At my son’s school there is a “no touching” rule. Absolutely no touching allowed on school grounds. There is a policeman inside the school at all times. Of course words can hurt just as bad but I see this as an improvement. I agree with you that knowing I was not the only one would have been very helpful. (There was NO internet back then! LOL) And I know you too believe that in addition to these videos, more actions need to be done now. {{{{hugs}}}} my friend.

  • Wicked Shawn October 8, 2010, 3:15 pm

    So much to say in response to this, I just can’t get it all out in one comment, it would just be the world’s most insanely long, epic comment. Kudos to you for posting on the subject again. It is worthy of 1000’s of posts.

    The heartbreak of parents, the torture of the kids going through it. The lack of knowledge of the kids who do the bullying. The failure of the school systems and parents who allow the bullying to take place to begin with. The epic failure of our society. We have an entire nation fighting publicly, PUBLICLY debating whether it is acceptable to be gay……here is a fucking newsflash, it is UNACCEPTABLE to judge anyone for being whatever they are! END OF STORY! I am past the point of being polite because some people try to position the discussion around their religious views, if your religious views cause you to hurt a child, frankly, FUCK YOU!

    Sorry, Lin, I love you dearly and you can remove this if you choose, but I am furiously angry about this torment.
    Wicked Shawn´s last blog post…Keha is a Whore- Which I Normally Have No Problem With

    • Absence Alternatives October 8, 2010, 3:25 pm

      Oh I love you so much and find your rather sexy when you are all riled up. ^_^

      No worries. Why do you think I want to delete or edit this? I LOVE THIS. Now… I think you need to come back and continue your train of thoughts here.

      Sarah Silverman posted a video that said exactly what you said here: If we are keeping DADT, if we are setting up laws to prevent gays from getting married, then we are telling the kids that being gay is wrong and therefore it is ok to hurt (“punish”) them.

  • kelli October 8, 2010, 7:53 pm

    I don’t think posts like this one can be over posted. thank you
    kelli´s last blog post…I want to do experiments Mum!

  • Robin October 8, 2010, 8:13 pm

    Just wanted to mention that I was at the movies today and again some douchebags were sitting behind me acting douchbaggy. They were laughing and farting and just being rude. Luckily the movie shut them up but it got me thinking, these are the kids these days, people that think it’s ok to act like that and potentially ruin a movie for someone. I just so badly want to go up to them, take their cell phones and call their parents to tell them that they raised a bunch of douchebags.
    Robin´s last blog post…The Damn I Happen To Give

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 1:48 am

      As a parent, I want to make sure that they behave as a decent human being when I am NOT around. I actually would appreciate it if someone would let me know when my kids are behaving poorly.

  • SisterMerryHellish October 8, 2010, 8:14 pm

    How does, what I’m sure was a well intended group of people, come up with “It Gets Better,” which bascially puts the responsibility to difuse an unbearable situation on the victim, suggesting they simply keep hope alive that things will, well, get better?! Why do they have to wait? And you’re right! Boys will be boys? Really? Anyone who thinks this is a reasonable response to ANYTHING should have their ass kicked in by the Woman who’ll be a Woman!

    This post makes me angry. It makes my blood boil! It makes me ashamed to be as shocked as I am at the statistics. And it makes me very proud and lucky to know you, Lin.

    Thank you for being passionate and eye opening and awesome. Love you!
    SisterMerryHellish´s last blog post…Flashback Friday – Grounded for Eternity 2!

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 1:51 am

      You are welcome. You are making me blush. I just let out what I needed to say before I stabbed someone, you know?

  • dufmanno October 8, 2010, 8:23 pm

    It continues to make me sad to think about the despair that drives someone to take their own life. Worse is the unbearable situation that drove them to it.
    What many don’t realize is exactly what you and the other commenters have driven home. Someone in this situation cannot simply extract themselves from it, sit on a bench and say “hey someday it will all get better”. What is going on at that exact moment consumes them and there is no other way out.
    I REMEMBER back when things were so fresh and visceral at a young age when it seemed like an insult from a friend or peer could bring down your whole world. That’s the kind of intensity that these torture sessions are felt with. There is no escape.
    I’m so sad for these kids who were so full of promise and their families who will never see them live a happy and productive life.
    dufmanno´s last blog post…A Girl Really Should Know Her Limitations

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 1:52 am

      “I REMEMBER back when things were so fresh and visceral at a young age when it seemed like an insult from a friend or peer could bring down your whole world. That’s the kind of intensity that these torture sessions are felt with. There is no escape.”

      Exactly. That was how I remembered. And MINE did not involve physical or even verbal abuse. I was simply ignored. I cannot imagine what life would have been like should there have been punches thrown or words slung at me.

  • Nina October 8, 2010, 8:34 pm

    i hope i can express myself in english well this time.
    living in a muslim country, gay topic is a taboo. i don’t know anyone who’s gay, except a few celebrities and designers.
    bullying. i think i never been bullied (the way in Glee). but i remember being different in high school just because i din wear headscarf and was a member of a hiking club. girls shouldn’t go to mountain with boys, my friends said. but i did fine.
    my 6 yo son loves to sing and dance. he plays with everykind of toys, from trucks to dolls. and while his friends (boys) love to talk about power rangers and ‘boys stuffs’, he just does what he like. even teachers and other parents sometime say that ‘it’s a girlish things to do.’ i told them there’s no such thing. i’m proud of my children. i told them it doesn’t matter what other people say. just be nice, be kind, and be strong. help others and defend what’s right.
    oh i dont know, dear, i still have goosebumps reading your article…and i can’t seem to find the right (english) words to express my feeling.
    thank you and big hug.
    Nina´s last blog post…Kita- Anak-Anak dan Dunia

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 1:57 am

      Nina, thank you so much. I treasure your being here the most because of the physical distances and what the connection made here shows: Your living in a Muslim country and my being a Chinese from Taiwan living in the US. Internet has made this happen. It has shrunk the world (even when it is simultaneously creating a lot of new problems…) and for that I am in love with the cyber space. Thank you and big hug back to you. AND my utter admiration for what you are doing for your children.

  • Miss B October 8, 2010, 9:28 pm

    Another problem I have with the “It Gets Better” project (which is an awesome thing, and I’m not at all trying to argue that isn’t) is how it (and basically everything that people are discussing, in terms of this subject right now) is (1) exclusively focused on LGBT&c. — because while that’s certainly an issue — a big one, that needs to be addressed — really, shouldn’t we be talking about putting a stop to bullying, period, regardless of the “reasons” behind it?, and (2) aside from putting the onus on the victims to just suck it up…well, bullying doesn’t just magically stop when you get older. You have more choices, and more independence, and you can decide where you want to live or spend your time or go to school or whatever. But it’s entirely false to say “Hey, once you’re out of grade/jr./high school, everyone starts treating people decently and you’ll never have to deal with this again”. The message that school and the people you go to school with don’t matter in the grand scheme of things is a good one, and an important one — but the idea that people all start acting like decent human beings once they graduate? Not so. (And the idea that everyone’s lives magically become fantastic the day they get out of high school — also, not so.)

    I was never bullied, per se. Mostly because I was so weird that everyone was a little afraid of me, I think. Or because it was no fun, because I could talk circles around the would-be jerks and it was also extremely obvious that I didn’t give the tiniest little shit about anyone’s opinions of me. But, had I been less bullheaded, I surely would have had a horrific time of it (I mean, I had a horrific time of it, anyway, but that was all due to my own internal mess and not because of any outside force.) So maybe I have no right to an opinion about this at all. But still.

    This makes me think of this, also — we do tend to put all the responsibility on the victims, in this society, in all situations. Consider rape — how many times and ways do we (by “we” I mean…our society in general) tell women all kinds of ways to be careful of themselves and how not to put themselves in dangerous situations and what not to do. The underlying, unspoken message being — if you do get raped or abused, obviously you just weren’t careful/mindful/whatever enough. So it was sort of your fault. Where are all the public service messages telling men “Don’t rape women! Not okay!” (I’m generalizing there — women are not the only victims of rape, obviously. But women are the ones that the icky messages like this tend to be directed towards. Because we don’t discuss male rape victims — which is another entirely different problem, but that’s a rant for another time.)

    In conclusion — sometimes I want to punch everyone in the face.
    Miss B´s last blog post…If

  • alonewithcats October 8, 2010, 11:05 pm

    I agree that the It Gets Better projects isn’t perfect, because it implies that the present sucks but there’s hope for the future. And for kids in crisis NOW, that’s not much consolation. But I do think the actual success of the campaign can be measured in the dialogue it has started – on your blog, among the gay community, in the media – and the additional outreach efforts that it will no doubt inspire.
    alonewithcats´s last blog post…Turning 30 wouldn’t be so scary if -30- didn’t mean “the end” I blame journalists Except I’m a journalist So I guess it’s all my fault As usual

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 2:01 am

      I agree 100%. I didn’t mean to make it sound like I am complaining about the It Gets Better campaign. I wanted to sound the “alarm” so people don’t get complacent thinking that this is all it takes to stop this craziness. Or worse, people outside of the LGBT community think, “Ok. The community has stepped in. So this has nothing to do with me, and this is not something that will affect me. Life goes on then.”

  • Sunshine in London October 9, 2010, 3:56 am

    You’re absolutely right. There is no excuse. What will it take for things to change, really change? As long as people are fobbing this all off with lame excuses, the bullying will continue. My heart aches. What a powerful post.
    Sunshine x
    Sunshine in London´s last blog post…Laughs in translation

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 2:02 am

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting! Hopefully all these talks will make some real change this time around.

  • Micael October 9, 2010, 8:38 am

    Thanks for the mention. This is one hell of a post. Well said.

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 2:02 am

      Thank YOU. I hope you don’t mind that I quoted the one sentence where you cursed the most loudly. ;-)

  • Life with Kaishon October 9, 2010, 10:01 am

    You shared your thoughts perfectly. I want every person I know to read this. I weep for the loss of life.

  • Kate October 9, 2010, 11:35 am

    Yes. My anger is huge. Why did no one see or stop the bullying? Who is teaching those kids it’s okay to be assholes? And why would an 11 year old be worrying about being different?
    Kate´s last blog post…Pink ribbons and self exams

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 2:18 am

      Exactly. So many questions. I am absolutely pissed by the young ones being harassed. Absolutely despicable.

  • Jack October 9, 2010, 7:46 pm

    Boys will be boys…..waiting..waiting…waiting. Cool haven’t been stabbed. That forcefield I put up is protecting me.

    Bullying is a serious topic and one that needs to be addressed across the board, not just one segment or community. I got bullied briefly and then just like you see in the movies I fought back and it stopped.

    But part of that happened because when and where I grew up you didn’t talk to your parents about these things. Doing that was assurance of more punishment.

    I want to see a world where that is not the case- our kids need to feel like they can come to us. I am really concerned about cyber bullying because that just makes it so much harder to escape. I don’t think that there are easy answers to all of these questions, but it is not brain surgery either.
    Jack´s last blog post…Do you Have Blog Envy

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 2:21 am

      I had the sheath off for a second there. You are lucky, my good sir. ;-)

      Well, wrt. the fight back thing… If you are going to tell your child that fighting back is ok, then remember to tell your child that if they get into trouble with school for fighting back, you will be on their side! The 11 -yo Ty was so upset about getting suspended from school for fighting back and thought his parents would be upset at HIM that he took his own life. Oh god.

  • secret agent woman October 9, 2010, 9:45 pm

    There was a boy at my son’s school last year who was being bullied (I don’t know why – I don’t believe it was a sexual orientation issue). Ultimately, several of the bullies cornered him and beat him with brass knuckles until he had brain damage. The thugs got a brief suspension. They should have been sent to prison. It sickens me and scares the hell out of me for my own long-haired, outspoken, atheist, non-sports-loving sons.
    secret agent woman´s last blog post…Planes- shoes- and telephones

  • Pickle Horwitz October 10, 2010, 8:08 am

    I’m with you all the way. I think we all have an inherent need to make others feel like outsiders. It makes us feel better about ourselves. Unfortunately it goes completely against nature and the concept, which I religiously believe, that we are all connected.

    As a parent, my responsibility is to teach my kids the importance of tolerance and kindness. My kids love the slogan, “different strokes for different folks.” It helps when they really like something that others don’t.

    When a kid is being mean to either them or someone they know, I hone in on the fact that it is THAT child who is having a problem. Whether it’s the bully or someone who is being bullied, the problem starts there.

    In my 4 yr old’s preschool classroom there is a boy who is often the victim of bullying. He has difficulty socializing and almost seems to seek out other kids’ cruel behavior because, at least then, he can be part of something, even if it means he is the one being stepped on. I have tried to talk to the teachers about this but their response was very much like “boys will be boys.” It was infuriating. I was very concerned that my boy was learning that it was okay to bully.

    Because I did not get the support I was looking for from the school, I took things into my own hands. I have explained to my boy that sometimes children have a hard time playing and that this boy does not know how to go about doing it. So that when he is being mean (his way of eliciting interaction), it is actually his way of wanting to play. That instead of being mean back to him and opening the gate for others to follow, that he should just ask the boy if he wants to play.

    Surprise, surprise. It has worked. Not only has my boy used this technique, he’s actually teaching his classmates what to do. It seems that all children need is a little understanding and some concrete tools as to what to do in actual situations of distress. That is what we can do for them NOW.

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 2:26 am

      Thank you. Yes “tools for life” are needed for both children and for parents. I have been reading and learning a lot of practical tips (which I hope I’ll remember at a time when I simply want to go ninja move on the bully…)

  • Catherine October 10, 2010, 8:19 am

    This is one of the most well written pieces I have read on this subject. Heartbreaking and raw.
    Catherine´s last blog post…Life’s Autumn… Magpie 35

  • BigLittleWolf October 10, 2010, 10:13 am

    Important words. Critically important words. I remember being on the receiving end of cruelty as a child, from other kids. In part because of my mother (who was obese). In part, because I was so little. As a parent, I hope I’ve taught my kids to be tolerant, respectful, and aware of both bullying and cruelty. There’s a fine line. I’m not sure where I would draw it.

    Whether we use any (gender) variation of “kids will be kids” hardly seems rational, when it comes to acts of bullying. At the same time, the adults are inured to some of this, as nasty (“mean girl”) behavior has become commonplace in our media culture. Not so much toward the gay community (as an example), but generally acceptable, and even cool.

    I don’t see it as the heart of the problem, but I certainly see this phenomenon as adding to it. And turning the other way, ignoring cruelty or meanness that accumulates and forms into a devastating weapon – clearly – it’s no answer. Tragedy after tragedy. How many will it take?
    BigLittleWolf´s last blog post…How to get a sexy loaner… car

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 1:05 pm

      Yes there is definitely a balance we all want to reach and keep, and of course, compounding this with our personal childhood experiences (nightmares) just makes it more complicated, if it is even possible… sigh.

  • magpie October 10, 2010, 10:32 am

    I’ve long hated that “boys will be boys” line, for reasons unrelated to gay or not – I hate gender stereotypes. But this post – it’s excellent, and gives me new reason to hate the phrase. Thanks.
    magpie´s last blog post…Pulling Teeth

  • Catherine October 10, 2010, 1:55 pm

    I have a new post up linking back to yours because I loved what you wrote. Thank you.

    http://blog.winkatme.com/2010/10/i-lived-it-gets-better/
    Catherine´s last blog post…Life’s Autumn… Magpie 35

  • Elly Lou October 10, 2010, 2:53 pm

    Just when I think I couldn’t love you more…

    I can’t wait to see the wonderful men your boys will doubtlessly become thanks to your open-mindedness and frank honesty.
    Elly Lou´s last blog post…Ukeing After Midnight

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 2:41 am

      I am keeping my fingers crossed. Sometimes I feel that peer pressure will exert more and more force as they get older. I hope I am stronger enough anchor for them.

  • Vodka and Ground Beef October 10, 2010, 5:34 pm

    This is an important post. Hearing about the recent Rutgers student suicide made absolutely sick. I don’t understand any of it – it’s so disgusting. How were those kids raised? The ones who made the videotape of their roommate? I wish I had answers because I get so riled up. I’m actually tense right now just thinking about this stuff. It’s just so hateful what they did. My heart goes out to Tyler Clementi and his family.
    Vodka and Ground Beef´s last blog post…How to Make Out at Borders Book Store

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 2:43 am

      I was so relieved when I read that yes they are going to prosecute them both. Absolutely despicable. I also immediately told my 12 year old the story, with special emphasis on how those two could go to jail for years.

  • Holly B October 11, 2010, 6:21 am

    Ive got my shank sharpened and I’m ready to roll.
    Holly B´s last blog post…At What Cost – Free Speech

  • Diane October 11, 2010, 7:00 pm

    This is super sad to me. Can’t dwell on it or even read your whole post because I can’t handle that kind of sadness on a regular basis. Not just gay kids, but all teens/pre-teens with all of their issues. I pray every day – and have for about the past 15 years – that these kids will get through another day. Honestly, it’s a struggle for so many kids. And it’s just so unnecessary.

  • Alexandra October 12, 2010, 12:21 am

    It gets better, doesn’t help you with the now.

    I remember.

    Excellent post, thank you.
    Alexandra´s last blog post…Acceptance Of The Ordinary

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 2:46 am

      Thank You.

      For kids that so far have had nothing, IT Gets Better is better than nothing. But we all remember how painful it was.

  • Naptimewriting October 12, 2010, 12:46 am

    Boys will be boys has always been an excuse for laziness, small mindedness, and short sightedness.

    I’m glad you’re feeling stabby. We all should. This is one f—ed up place to raise kids, and it’s harder because other people aren’t f—ing raising anybody. They let kids grow up in their houses but don’t actively teach them anything (except sometimes hate.)

    Assholes will be assholes. But hopefully, they’ll be prosecuted.
    Naptimewriting´s last blog post…Turn your head and laugh

    • Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010, 2:47 am

      Those two at Rutgers? Yup, they will. I can’t wait to hear how many years. (Am I being too vindicative?)

  • carol in chicago October 12, 2010, 6:50 pm

    My “best” friend in 7th grade managed to turn the entire class and even some of the younger classmates against me including Sabina, my bully. Never found out why. I was one who got good grades because if I didn’t, my dad would have beat the $hit out of me. So Sabina managed to have me pushed down the stairs and even slammed my head against the wall. I did not fight back because again, my father would have beaten me for fighting at school…the principal did nothing. The assistant principal did nothing and also made it seem like I needed counseling, not the bully. My mom did nothing because she was afraid of my father..who by the way did find out about me running from a fight and whipped me with a belt anyway. Long story short, I did REALLY well on my own. I am not a quiet person by any means and learned that if you just find the support, no matter how long it takes you will be fine. I have the best kids, the best husband, the best house , best friends. I made my dreams come true by learning to ignore those who are idiots and have no purpose in life other than hurt others. Angie ended up ok, though the scar on her face from my newly trimmed nails still remains after she fought me another time and my dad suffered a stroke 3 yrs ago where I’m hoping he’s reliving his nastiness over and very again. I have moved on and will teach my kids to fight for good…something you can do too if you only hang on and know that there are more options and people now than 25 yrs ago..search for them…they will help you.

    • Absence Alternatives October 18, 2010, 11:35 pm

      Carol, thank you so much for sharing your story with me (and the others here). So this bully, this Sabina girl just picked you for no reason, right? That’s exactly why bullying is so difficult to prevent and that’s why it’s everybody’s duty and to everybody’s best interest to create an environment in which bullies cannot thrive. I am so sorry for what you went through. I so want to go back time and give the younger you a big hug. Kudos to you for breaking the cycle and for being the wise and strong guide that your kids need.

  • Unknown Mami October 14, 2010, 11:50 am

    Boys will be boys.

    Girls will be girls.

    Kids will be kids.

    Well in that line of logic…
    Rapists will be rapists.
    Child molesters will be child molesters.
    Victims will be victims.

    Let’s not do a damn thing to make ourselves and this world better because things are the way that they are and it’s not my fault because I’m not doing the bad things.

    Fuck that convoluted logic. We need to pull our collective heads out of our collective ass and realize that this affects all of us.

    One love: universal love, respect, and compassion by all people for all people, regardless of race, creed, color, sexual orientation, or you name it . One love, that’s it! Enough is enough people.
    Unknown Mami´s last blog post…I’m in a Relationship

  • Unknown Mami October 18, 2010, 11:57 am

    I linked to you today.
    Unknown Mami´s last blog post…I Comment Therefore I Am

  • Lori October 18, 2010, 2:45 pm

    I came over from Unknown Miami’s place and I am awe struck by your words. I kept saying Amen as I read each paragraph. This is an awesome post that speaks the truth…a truth that everyone needs to face.

    I wrote about bullying recently too and am struck by the many stories of bullying I’ve heard ever since. Bullying needs to stop. We need to have zero tolerance for something that is so senseless and stupid.

    Thank you for such a great post. I was honored to read it and thank Unknown Miami for pointing me in your direction. I am sure I will be back to read your blog again. :) Lori

    • Absence Alternatives October 18, 2010, 11:37 pm

      Lori, thank you so much for visiting and for this thoughtful comment. Zero tolerance is the key you are right!

      And thank you so much for the compliment. I will be honored if you decide to come back and read more. *blushing*

  • The Reason You Come October 23, 2010, 6:57 pm

    This makes me so mad, too. But more than that, it makes me afraid. My fiancé is American, and
    I’m relocating there soon to be with him. That means I’ll be raising my future kids in America, where there’s a possibility they’ll be bullied. Why do kids do that? It must be some kind of power trip. When I was in high school, there were popular kids and there were unpopular ones. The former were always being praised, and everybody knew their names, while the latter were just quiet, with very few friends. But no one hurt people or called them names. Oh, I remember there was one bully, but she was kicked out freshman year for her bullying. A lot of kids were complaining about her, and the complaints reached the school administrators. That’s what should be done to all bullies; they should be kicked out of school. How come they get to stay? How come no one tells on them?

    This world has become such a scary world for kids. I’m glad I’m not part of this generation (I’m in my 30s), but I’m sad because my kids will be part of it, and my cousins are part of it. My cousins just moved to California and started school there. I’m worried that they’re being bullied. They were raised with a “Fuck you!” attitude, which gave their parents a headache. I hope their “Fuck you!” attitude will serve them well now that they’re in a different country, adjusting to a different culture.
    The Reason You Come´s last blog post…Burying the Dildo

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