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Spreading Awareness

What You Can Do

You can help reduce adolescent suicide and bullying through spreading awareness in many ways. Begin with your personal life, by reflecting on your own behavior and beliefs, by talking to your children, friends, family, colleagues, employers, and through social media; Wake people up to what is happening and the distressing rise in children taking their lives. This is a cultural problem and begins with each one of us.
Another critical way you can help is by working with your local school district. Find out what their policies are and if they have the Necessary Components in place. If they do not, ask them to do so. Work with a community group or coalition, or form one to demonstrate community support and pressure to support and encourage this change. While people who work with children want the best for them, policies and practices can become complacent, or issues ignored because of their intensity and/or controversy. Discrimination is often deeply enculturated and institutionalized... it becomes "The Norm". School climate and culture are created by those within it. Local school leaders must be willing to talk about the issues and not sweep them under the rug. Schools are one of the most important places we can advocate for change. We can create an environment which ensures safety and non-discrimination for all students as well as one that promotes/teaches kindness, respect and how to be simply a good human being. Or we can allow the norm to continue to be a place where LGBTQIA students do not feel safe, where they expect NOT to be protected and a culture of bullying is ignored or taken lightly. We have the right to demand that ALL of our students be safe, protected and valued. The Necessary Components are the areas I discovered were not happening or in place in my local school district. I do believe that had these been in place, my daughter would be alive today. Schools must embrace the difficult conversations around this issue and recognize how much more at risk LGBTQIA youth are than their peers. Through the local advocacy page, we are developing, we will walk you through this process step by step and empower you with information to convince your schools to embrace change.


10 Things you can do

Due to the nature of the difficult issues which arise around discussions of gender identity, sexual orientation, bullying and adolescent suicide, many schools refuse to address it. This is why advocating on the state level is imperative. Some districts will need change to be mandated by the state. If you find your district reluctant, it’s likely yours is not the only one in your area struggling. Through the state advocacy page, we offer steps to follow with representatives in your area. Find those who care about this issue and want to help.
In all of these conversations, the focus must be on keeping all students safe, healthy and thriving. It is about kindness and basic human well being.

10 Things You Can Do

Be more kind

1

It begins with YOU!  Reflect on and observe your own words and actions.  Kindness is about humanity - it crosses all boundaries. This is easy to do with those we love or who are likeminded and much harder with those we perceive as in opposition or disagreement. Examine if you offer basic kindness to ALL people - do you respect differences?

2

Recognize your power

We impact everyone we encounter.  We see examples of meaness and basic bullying everyday.  We are a society which seems to have elevated this behavior. Do you offer general and basic kindness to everyone?  If not, are you contributing To the problem through action, thought or apathy? Are you standing by doing nothing?

3

Remind Others

Have the courage to call out meanness when you see it anywhere and everywhere. Give praise where you see kindness. Understand how critical reporting is. Teenagers often do not report, but reporting can save lives. They must have faith in reporting and also be protected. 

4

Talk with your children

Be sure you are modeling and discussing the importance and impact of kindness.  Children demonstrate the behaviors they see. 
Ask your children what they are seeing at school - remember they think they can "Handle It". Ask your children if they report bullying? If not - why? If they don't feel safe to report, there is a problem. Work with your schools and community to address it. 



5

Know state statistics and requirements

Find state statistics through your state health Department - 
search 'adolescent suicide' 

Find requirements for schools by state: STOPBULLYING.GOV



6

LEARN AND GET INVOLVED

CHANGE BEGINS WITH YOU AND YOUR COMMUNITY.  GO TO YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT WEBSITE AND FIND THE BULLYING AND HAZING POLICIES.  ASK THAT THEY ADoPT THE Necessary Components for Change .

POWER of COLLECTIVE effort

7

FIND or CREATE A LOCAL GROUP TO ADVOCATE THAT schools ADoPT AND IMPLEMENT The Necessary Components for Change AND OTHER CHANGES TO ENSURE SAFETY TO ALL STUDENTS. The more voices calling for change, the more likely it is to be embraced

ADVOCATE FOR MENTAL HEALTH IN SCHOOLS

8

BULLYING = VIOLENCE. IT is A MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE FOR ALL STUDENTS INVOLVED: THE BULLY, THE VICTIM, AND THE WITNESS,  THERAPY IS necessary for all three. Therapists can often facilitate an EFFECTIVE, RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROGRAM which has BEEN SHOWN TO BE EFFECTIVE IN REDUCING BULLYINg **when implemented correctly**

9

DON'T THINK IT CAN'T HAPPEN TO YOU!

WHAT IS HAPPENING FOR KIDS IN SCHOOL AND ONLINE has THE MOST POWERFUL impact on THEIR safety and SENSE OF WELL BEING.  ENSURE YOUR CHILD FEELS SAFE TO REPORT INCIDENTS EXPERIENCED OR WITNESSED. Reporting saves lives - however, students must believe it will make a difference. IF they don't feel safe to report, they may be trying to "handle" experiences which they don't have the tools to process. My daughter was working with a therapist and did not share a lot of what she experienced because she had no faith in the way the schools dealt with it. 

10

REDUCE SCREEN TIME

Research showing those having more than 2 hours a day are twice as lickely to consider suicide.  Model by reducing screen time with your children. 
Regardless of your filters, your child has access to more information and potentially deadly information via the internet. Further, we are only beginning to understand the impacts of social media on children. Thus far, all indications are that depression and screen time are directly connected. And Children face rampant bullying via socia media. LOck up devices to prevent problems. Wal-Mart and other locations have lock boxes for phones and tablets.