Likely you’ve seen this clip from Forth Worth City Councilman Joel Burns (it’s been a crazy week, and I’m just catching up now).
In a public meeting earlier this week, Burns told a personal story of bullying: cornered at school by bullies and being called a “faggot” and that he should die. What’s particularly moving is Burns’ emotion, tear-filled, genuine, in the midst of an otherwise humdrum city meeting.
Ten teenagers have committed suicide in the past few months. Hanging themselves in garages, using guns in their own homes, jumping off the GW bridge out of fear and embarassment. This is an epidemic.
Our collective burden, as educated adults who care about our young people, is to be honest and straightforward with the kids we counsel and love. Dan Savage started a moving campaign; President Obama addressed cyberbullying at a town hall meeting on MTV; ordinary folks around the country have uploaded their own stories of being bullied and posted them on the Web.
In Massachusetts, where I live, we passed strongly-worded anti-bullying legislation last May. Though a concrete, enforceable measure, the law still relies on adults in the community to become standard-bearers: the school principals, the teachers, and the parents themselves.
Let’s hope that kids out there who might feel alone–called perhaps the ugliest names imaginable by insecure, ignorant jerks–might hear all the voices, those that have lived through it, calling in unison that it gets better.
It really does.