October 26, 2010
After reading last week’s post, I took the call to action and talked to my 13-year old twins about bullying. Because of my work, we’ve had lots of chats about violence in families. But we hadn’t yet talked about how kids treat each other at school.
I asked if they say anything when kids call someone “gay” or “faggot.” Turns out they might – if it’s directed at one of their friends. But more often they don’t, because they’re scared and don’t know what to say. Their school has an anti-bullying curriculum, but it hasn’t given any concrete answers to their questions: “What can I do?” “What if they start saying those mean things to me?”
They deserve answers. I can’t be the only adult in their life having this conversation with them. I want their school more involved. I want their teachers to have strategies for integrating bullying prevention into daily school life and I want them to answer those tough questions. I want my kids to learn, as the poet Audre Lorde said “Your silence will not protect you.”
After I talked to my kids I felt discouraged. But then I found that a local organization has become a national expert on this. Did you know The Safe Schools Coalition will intervene on behalf of individual students? And they have great practical advice for kids and teachers. I encourage you to print one of these out and give it to a kid or teacher you know. I did.
October 19, 2010
Posted by Traci Underwood under Prevention
| Tags: bullying
, lgbt youth
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The recent rash of LBTG youth suicides make it clear that we have to change how we treat one another. Like domestic and sexual violence, this kind of bullying sends the message that control, manipulation, and violence are tools that get you what you want. And we have to stop it.
The “It Gets Better” Project lets LBTG adults who have survived bullying tell young people that things will get better. But is this enough? Or do we need to change the conditions that allow this to happen in the first place?
I’ve been thinking about the bystanders who witness bullying and choose to ignore it (maybe you’re glad it’s not you today) or participate (maybe you laugh or repost that degrading message). And what about the adults who think that this is just part of youth culture? What are they really saying by not speaking up?
I know there are complicated reasons for why bystanders do what they do, whether it’s fear for their own safety or not knowing how to respond. But the kind of violence that LBTG and other youth often endure should not be a rite of passage.
So, it may get better. And yes, we get stronger. But the question really is: How can we start making it better today? Let’s speak up against bullying – and support those who already do – so that we can create communities where any kind of violence is unacceptable.
October 12, 2010
My job involves studying domestic violence homicides. So it’s no surprise that I’m against violent images in music videos. And when stars wear outrageous clothing to get more attention, I am even less interested in the politics of their fame.
Lady Gaga does both these things. But I’m inspired by how she uses her popularity for social and political activism, like taking a stand against SB1070 and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
So how do I reconcile all this? Or should I even try? A coworker told me that to her, Lady Gaga “embodies the complexity of the human experience. She makes me realize that we can’t look at what she is doing in a binary way.”
Maybe we should take this as an opportunity to re-think our views on feminism? And maybe the outrageousness of Lady Gaga’s videos is a brilliant way of challenging our societal norms around sexuality, power and violence?
While I think about Lady Gaga’s choices and messages, I think I’ll listen to (not watch) “Just Dance.”
October 5, 2010
Another domestic violence awareness month is upon us. Oh yeah, and another breast cancer awareness month.
I cannot name two issues that strike more directly at the heart of every woman … and anyone who’s ever loved a woman.
But I mean, really? Who wants to be more aware of disease and violence? Personally, I am all too aware of these dismal, depressing things.
Cancer and domestic violence have flattened me with a 1-2 sucker punch. Unless you are a really good friend of mine, I don’t think you want to hear about the ravages of being bald, ashen, and exhausted from chemotherapy. And honest, you don’t want to know the horrific details about the domestic violence murder suicide in my family.
Trust me. You do not.
And I don’t blame you.
But how about the flip side? What if we focused on what could be and how to make that happen?
What if I came to you and said: “October is Women’s Health and Liberation Month?” How about we spend at least 31 days each year being aware of the possibilities?
The prospect of equality.
The dream of universal healthcare.
The vision of prevention (not early detection or intervention) for both cancer and domestic violence?
How about that?
October 1, 2010
Posted by Nan Stoops under Sports
| Tags: baseball
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We are pleased to bring you a post from our first guest blogger – Nan Stoops, our executive director.
I am a baseball fan. I love the game. I watch, I play, I coach.
My mother followed the Red Sox and raised me on the Cubs. Her mantra was “suffering builds character.” I never really understood it, but I knew better than to question her about baseball.
We partner with the Seattle Mariners on the Refuse To Abuse™ violence prevention campaign. For 13 years, the Mariners have been the only MLB team to focus on violence against women. Make no mistake, I am proud of this effort.
But 2010 has been rough. The Mariners made a remarkably fast exit from playoff contention. And then came the trade that brought us Josh Leuke – a minor league pitcher who had been charged with rape.
In dealing with the public reaction to this trade, the Mariners are experiencing what we have always known: doing the right thing is complicated. Especially during a losing season when fans are restless and unhappy. People ask me why we continue to partner with them. Here’s why.
With Refuse To Abuse™, the Mariners agree to be held to a high standard. We applaud that. We expect them to “walk the talk” and we know they will stumble. After all, learning and changing is a slow, painful process.
Justice requires 3 things: truth-telling, accountability, and restoration. We expect that from everyone we work with. Including the Mariners.
For my home team, the degree to which “suffering builds character” remains to be seen. But the other thing my mother always said was, “quit while you’re ahead.” On the justice-front, we’re not ahead yet. So, in work and in baseball, I plan to keep showing up – until the pennant belongs to us.