This past weekend another young person took their life. This news is starting to become all too familiar and the stories are starting to run together. A child is bullied for being different (gay, new, small, big, quiet,promiscuous, prude, black, white, purple etc.) and constantly tormented by their peers. These bullies never leave them alone. They harass them at school, online, via text messages and over the phone. The young person, unable to see how this will ever get better, makes an unfortunate decision to end their life rather than continue to face this situation any longer. And society loses the possibility of what that young person could have become.
We have to start winning.
Teen suicide continues to increase and we have to start looking at new ways to support and encourage young people. Though bullying, harassment and isolation have always existed, the addition of technology makes it harder for young people to get away from the drama of their life. For most of us who were teens prior to the advent of social media, you had a horrible day at school, embarrassing experience, or had your heart broken and you could go home and avoid the situation or people. For today’s teen their lives are permanently fused into the World Wide Web, making it difficult to see that the situation will ever go away. We need to remember how hard it was to imagine a life beyond today when we were teens. And we need to realize that with many of our current efforts, we are slowly losing the battle to support them through their teen years.
However, there are great programs for youth, strong school systems, and no tolerance policies that are working. These need to be shared across the globe for us to begin to win. We need to know what teens need to be successful and how as adults we can make life seem more than just tolerable for all young people. Though young people will continue to face and have issues (after all it is a part of life to overcome obstacles) they should never feel that they couldn’t make it past these issues. For all teens, living through their youth into adulthood has to be the only option.
Most importantly we need to address the lack of tolerance of differences that creates an environment where bullying can exist. We need to create a culture where it is completely unacceptable to bully or tease someone for their sexuality, race, body type, family, personality etc.. As the adults we need to set a better example and when we see young people that are bullying and teasing we need to speak up. It needs to be the adults that say we will not tolerate the relentless bullying, not expect kids to speak up for themselves and handle it. We need to stop the cycle that allows young people to feel empowered to treat each other so poorly.
NotEnoughGood.com will highlight strategies that are working to bring about positive changes for youth and decreasing the unhealthy choices that young people are making. We need to all look for the best ways to win because when young lives are at stake, we can’t afford to lose.
If you have a strategy or idea on how best to support young people please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We plan to create a series on best practices from across the country to assist all communities in developing winning strategies.