Category Archives: Equality

America’s road to the White House – 2012 Edition

Get out and vote!

As we countdown to the elections, there have been many moments that stand out. There are great moments, confusing moments and those moments that will be remembered forever.

There couldn’t be a more important time in America for people to come together and hear out what each side is saying at their campaign rallies, conventions, the upcoming debates and really be able to make an informed decision in November.

This is not an election of which Party to put into the White House but a choice of a leader for our Nation as we continue to work on strengthening our economy, building a better future for our children, putting quality and affordable healthcare in the reach of everyone, advancing our educational system to stay competitive in the world and making sure our service members, military families and veterans have their needs looked after from the time they enlist and each day after.

To lead America into the next 4 years, it means leading and listening to ALL Americans while respecting their lives and the diverse backgrounds many come from as well as the diversity within the United States of America. Without this diversity in our Nation, our great Country wouldn’t be what it is today. Pride in our Country starts with pride in its people.

There have been many speakers at both the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida and now the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. There has been a great deal of finger pointing, looking back at what hasn’t worked, talking to an empty chair (?) and in the Republican Convention there was a great deal of what seemed to be self promotional speeches.

The fact is, this is a time to make a point, take responsibility, state what their nominee’s plan is to move forward and nominate the person for each Party. At the end of these conventions, voters should know more about what each candidate would do to improve the lives of the American people as well as lay out some type of an idea for their overall policies. Give a glimpse into the future if they were to be the one sworn in as President of the United States in January 2013. This is not a race to win or a “family feud” of sorts. This is serious business. Can this person lead? Can this person represent the American people?

When it comes down to it, the decisions made in the past have laid down the groundwork for opportunities today.  Without strong leaders, much of what our Nation is known for would not be in existence today. Many freedoms we often take for granted would not have come about. To be a great leader means working to improve the present while also taking into account lives in the future, not taking for granted what has been fought for in the past and respecting those who have given of themselves for the freedoms we have today.

Between now and election, there will be a LOT of targeted ads running on TV. A good deal of them are being put out from special interest groups saying they “represent” one side or the other. Their point is not to give facts but to get votes. They don’t care if they are misguided votes. A vote is a vote. They have money to spend and they aren’t spending it to educate the American public.

In today’s age of technology, it has never been easier to sit down and watch a speech, debate, read a full dialogue or look up anything a person may have missed during the day or week. Why take someone’s word for what was said? See things, in full for yourself. A vote shouldn’t be made based on emails received, clips on the news, coworkers ideas or based on Party affiliation.

Each candidate has their own website and many of their speeches are posted shortly after they are given along the campaign trail. This enables voters to see for themselves what is happening as voting day gets closer.

Romney/Ryan Campaign 2012

Obama/Biden Campaign 2012

Every vote matters. Are you registered? Each state has different deadlines to register prior to elections. Check here for deadlines and registration.

Question: Have you been watching the conventions? RNC or DNC? Both? What have your favorite moments been?

Here is a video clip from the #DNC2012 of President Bill Clinton speaking. This is the first time ever a former President has nominated a President. This is a MUST SEE speech.

Help stop bullying – Bullying affects everyone

Photo by Eddie~S

By speaking up when we see bullying, or talking and letting people know it is not okay to treat others with disrespect or cruelty, this cycle can be stopped.

According to the US Department of Justice and the National School Association of School Psychologist, 10% of students drop out due to repeated bullying and 160,000 students miss school each day due to fear of bullying.

According to the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment, the US ranks average amongst 70 countries around the world when comparing 15 year olds in reading, science and math.

The education report and the need for educational reform is not new and while many budgets are under the microscope for getting cut, America’s students may not get the much needed support they desperately need and deserve.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of boys identified as bullies have a criminal record by the time they are 24 years old.

In extreme cases, bullying has been named as the cause of student suicide and student homicide.
With an average student spending 6-8 hours a day at school, if that day includes being bullied or having the fear of being bullied, their learning ability will be diminished.

With this going on, as well as any other typical school distractions, necessary learning of lessons and social development can be missed and go unseen in today’s overstressed society. Unless there is a clear objective to focus on these issues, with the proper attention and involvement and do whatever is necessary to make life changing differences not only for those directly involved but throughout our society, the current generation as well as the future generations will continue to decline.

When the subject of bullying is brought up for discussion, it is often not clear what accounts for “bullying” or that it can often take place online within many social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other social gathering sites or through texting, messaging and email. Cyber-bullying has opened a whole new world for bullies to reach their victims either after having left them earlier or sometimes having never even met them face to face.

Photo by J_O_I_D

Half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online and about the same number have engaged in cyber-bullying.

This has turned a person’s home into a place that once used to be a safe area into a place of torment as well. A person can use their phone or the computer to send threatening messages to the victim threatening them in some way or even threatening to harm their family.
What can you do to help?

If you have children or family members with children, talk to them about bullying. Ask them what they know and how they feel about it. Let them know it is never okay. Tell someone. All people should feel safe.

Talk to coworkers and family about doing the same. The more people you know, the more children you know, the greater chance you know someone being bullied or possibly someone bullying. You can help put a stop to this, now.

Every place should be a bully-free zone.

Every place should be a bully-free zone.

Take a stand and help stop bullying in your school, workplace and community. It starts by speaking up and talking with others.

Bullying can be snuffed out by breaking the silence.

*½ of adolescents and teens have been bullied online and about the same number have engaged in cyber-bullying.

*Cyber-bullying affects all races.

*Cyber-bullying victims are more likely to have low self esteem and to consider suicide.

Stop Bullying Now – ASL

Graduate Students of Gallaudet University in hopes to spread awareness and address bullying within schools and communities, and prevent future harm to children and adolescents.

Great Links:

TakeAStand.StopBullying

StopCyberBullying

ItGetsBetterProject

PeaceBuilders

MakeLaughterCount

Please feel free to comment on your thoughts and/or experiences and subscribe to this blog for upcoming articles. This is an ongoing series and your thoughts may contribute to future articles. If you have not read the previous article,”The time to talk is now!“, I would urge you to do so. Thank you.

Help stop bullying Pt. 1-The time to talk is now!

Photos from "Stop Bullying Now! One Mile Fun Walk"
Photos courtesy of: Mental Health America of NE Florida

According to Gayle Eckerd, CEO of River Point Behavioral Health, “Bullying among our children and adolescents has become an epidemic and something needs to be done now.”

To stop an epidemic, there is often a source where a treatment can be implemented and then spread out from there. But, with bullying, each and every case is different because it is not only dealing with the victim of bullying but also the person or persons behind the act of bullying. It is also looking at what is causing this person to act out in this way and we also must ask a few questions; Why is this becoming such a growing problem? What is bullying? Where does the problem of bullying begin? Who is responsible to address these concerns?

The first question to address is the last one. Who is responsible to address these concerns? We all are. This is a concern for everyone to not only realize but to be part of the overall solution. The first thing to recognize is the problem. Look around. Bullying is not something that only happens on the school playground or during playgroups at the park. It is not something that is happening only amongst our young people. This is a problem in homes with siblings, at school within all age groups. Bullying is a problem within the workplace, within our political system, between parents, between parents and their children and the lists go on. What happens is, it isn’t always considered bullying and therefore the issue is getting beyond our grasp and out of control. But, it isn’t beyond help.

Preparing for the walk, everyone can be part of the solution to stop bullying.

In today’s world, anyone who wants to bully someone else can do so in a buffet of places and even without ever showing their face. Once a person becomes aware of the problem bullying has become in our society, it becomes hard to avoid or overlook this issue. The problem is so many people have begun to accept it as a way of life or have learned to overlook it until the problem becomes unavoidable or irreversible. Too many people are getting physically, mentally and emotionally hurt and many are committing suicide over it or living in silence and unspeakable pain on the verge of a meltdown. But, there is help.

Everyone who participates, tells someone else and the word spreads...
that's a good sign!

On Saturday, May 21st, Riverpoint Behavioral Health in Jacksonville, Florida joined forces with Mental Health America of Northeast Florida to organize the “1st Annual Stop Bullying Now! One-Mile Fun Walk” to raise awareness in their community and beyond.

With 200-250 walkers and their tremendous success, this is one of the most powerful ways to make a difference in the battle against bullying. They are reaching out to the younger generation, their friends and families, starting necessary conversations and letting it be known that it is not only okay to talk about bullying but also making it known that bullying against anyone, for any reason, at any age is never okay!

Studies have shown 15-25% of students report being the victim of bullying while 15-20% of students report they engage in bullying. These reported numbers are often low due to victims’ fear of retribution keeping them from coming forward.

Bullying is a form of abuse and can have immediate and long-term effects.

Recently, as seen on the news, reports of suicides have been on the increase due to bullying. Young people who are victims of bullying are more likely to drop out of school, abuse drugs and/or alcohol, have mental health disorders such as depression, eating disorders, self mutilation, thoughts of suicide, anxiety, etc.

Youth who bully are more likely to engage in violence, get involved in gangs, criminal behavior and become abusers as adults. These traits can often effect the next generations as well.

Mental Health America of Northeast Florida has been working to raise awareness of this epidemic of bullying in our country beginning with our local communities. With sponsors like, River Point Behavioral Health who paid for this event, allowing all proceeds to go the Mental Health America of Northeast Florida for their amazing work in not only this event but also working within schools and summer camps, this is an amazing example of what can be done to stop bullying, prevent bullying and everyone can be involved.

Mental Health America of Northeast Florida has found the necessary treatment is to not only treat the victim but also those that feel the need to bully. There is very often a reason behind the bullying but also to get people talking and raise awareness to this growing problem.

Take time to listen. Take time to talk. Talk about bullying.

The more people who get involved and the more help made available, the better the chances for everyone.

In this series of articles, I’ll share different stories from people who have had their lives affected from bullying in one way or another. The only way to effectively stop bullying is to show its hiding places, bring them out into the open and let people know the best thing to do is speak up and get the necessary help when needed. Let people know it is okay to say they need help because they are not alone.

What many people see as harmless fun is very hurtful and has long-term effects to others. This is bullying. This is causing many people a lost childhood, lifelong trauma, physical harm and as we are learning it is more often leading to suicide. This has to stop. It must stop now.

See the signs, read the warnings and act. Don't ignore what is right in front of you.




The first story is something that is horrible and should be unheard of but it is a situation that very much needs to be recognized for what it is.





This is about a young lady that had been bullied by not only one person but multiple people. She was bullied to the point of victimization in both a medical facility and her family environment. She is disabled and required help for much of her daily care.

During what should have been a 5-day admission to a hospital for medical testing for a diagnosis, she was instead bullied, made fun of, called names and left in unsanitary conditions. In the end, due to the lack of care from the medical staff, the correct tests had not been done which led to a long delay of the correct diagnosis. She said, ““It was an awful experience; the mental games were terrifying and I was stuck there because they did not want to discharge me.”

At the hands of her family, where she should have felt the most secure, cared for and loved, she was instead bullied most by her siblings until she was later sent to live with other relatives. There, she was often left alone as a live-in babysitter, neglected for her own daily medical needs and left to fall into the hands of a family friend who raped her.

When she couldn’t take anymore and tried to leave, she was locked in a room, slammed against the wall, unable to use a phone or a bathroom until she eventually crawled out a window and escaped. Yes, escaped. She said, “You hear about human trafficking nowadays, but that was kind of the case, even within my own family.”

At the time, this woman was wheelchair bound. Since getting better care after these experiences, this has changed. She has chosen to remain anonymous for very clear reasons.


The second story is about Lynda in Parkersburg.

Lynda’s has quite a different side of things. At first, in middle school, Lynda was having a lot of troubles at home and this led to troubles at school. During her 8th grade year, Lynda ran away.

This ended up getting her moved to another relative’s home and also to a new school. The kids at the new school didn’t treat her too well, in fact, they were just mean. She was poked, tripped, had her books knocked out of her hands and threatened about showing up places outside of school. So, she decided to just stay quiet and stay to herself.

In the 9th grade, she moved back in with her grandparents and returned to her old school. However, she had taken on a new attitude. She was loud, mean and a bully now. She wasn’t going to be picked on anymore. She took things to a new level you could say. Name calling and harassing was an everyday part of her demeanor and she’s sure she made the daily lives of some of her classmates a living hell.

“So many things that I look back on in shame,” Lynda says, “I cannot believe the intolerance that I showed back then.”

Now Lynda has her own children and would she never want to see them be bullied”, but she says, “I cannot stomach the thought of one of my kids being the bully.”

Lynda is making this known to help stop bullying.

Many people are stepping forward in efforts to help stop bullying. Below are some excellent links to visit for information on how you can speak with children, friends, coworkers or reach out for help.

Please feel free to comment on your experiences with bullying and how it has affected your life as well. Together, we can help in the effort by sharing information, speaking up, getting help and bringing an end to bullying in our own local communities which will prevent more victims and help save lives from the hurt or worse, from the loss of life. Please pass this along and keep an eye out for part 2 of this series.



AHMIR ANTI-BULLYING VIDEO – “Perfect”
Purchase this song on iTunes and 20% of the proceeds will be donated to the Make Laughter Count foundation (an organization that brings comedians & entertainers together to increase awareness about bullying and raising funds for charities)




SEE PART 2 OF THIS TOPIC



Help stop bullying Pt. 2 – Bullying effects everyone




Please see links below and feel free to share comments below.



StopCyberBullying.org

TakeAStand.StopBullying

ItGetsBetterCampaign

StopBullying.gov

PeaceBuilders.com

TheTrevorProject.org

WelcomingSchools.org

Let’s Move.gov

Teach for America

MakeLaughterCount

Freedom – What is it worth?

Freedom
Photo by: Moe

More often it seems people are concerned about what is happening to their freedoms or one person’s freedom is standing in the way of another person’s freedom.

One person’s freedom of speech can become bullying or harassment to another which has been making headlines recently across the nation even inspiring the “It Gets Better” campaign.

Freedoms have been fought for throughout America’s history but when one person’s freedom has become a source of disrespect, intolerance, hate or the cause of a crime, this is no longer just someone exercising their freedoms but instead it is an act against someone else’s rights.

What exactly is a freedom and what is a right? Where should the line be drawn and who should draw the line?

A freedom is very difficult to just flat out define but it is being free willed, making one’s own choices, having liberty, not being physically bound or confined or not having one’s future pre-determined. Freedom is being able to have something that is yours and know you will be able to hold on to it.

A right is the freedom to do something or the justifiable claim or entitlement to something. Some may say a right is something you are born with and die with like the rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. However, this has been something that is argued that these are more a privilege because they can be taken away from you. For example, prisoners lose many of their rights. However, we are looking at this primarily as freedoms.

Can a person have too much freedom? Is it possible for freedom to be taken too far or to be misinterpreted?

If a person had 100% freedom to do absolutely anything he/she wanted this could and most likely would begin to infringe on those around them. Each person having their own freedoms would expect to have the same apply to them, 100% freedom for themselves. This couldn’t work.

It’s very easy to come up with a quick example that is not extreme but more or less a day to day example. Imagine a busy supermarket, long lines at the register and everyone is on their cell phones, talking loudly and in no hurry to get off. That includes the cashier, the person ahead of you and the person ahead of them. Everyone is just freely talking. It may seem rude but is it breaking the law?

Putting one’s freedoms aside to respect another person and/or their freedoms has made life not only tolerable but has made America a place where people feel safe enough to speak up, be religious or choose not to practice religion, pick and represent political parties, vote, chase their dreams or follow in the footsteps of previous generations.

But, is this America being pushed aside as more individuals are consumed by personal freedoms instead of overall respect, safety and equality?

Not too long ago, in the top of the news was the Islamic Center in NYC. The issue originally stated that people were concerned with it being so close to Ground Zero.

However, once the media became more involved, the issue became more against Islam and the NYC Islamic Center wasn’t the only one having issues with people not wanting to see it built.

Another proposed Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee ran into extreme debates even though they had been in the community for two decades. Their plans were for a larger center than their already existing one. However, opponents went to court to try to put a halt to their plans.

This past week, Chancellor Robert Corlew III denied the opponents of the Mosque an emergency injunction that would block construction so for now, it looks like plans can move forward.

What happened to freedom of religion? Who decides where the line of freedom is drawn? Then, is it really freedom?

Remember the Florida Pastor, Terry Jones? He was willing to go against top brass in the military, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell and General David Petraeus, as well as multiple religious and community leaders who urged him to reconsider his plans to burn the Holy Book of Islam, the Qu’ran, on September 11th of this year.

Why would he do such an act? Because he felt Islam was of the devil and he wanted to express how he felt.

Once his story reached the news and the news spread worldwide what he was planning to do, safety for American troops in the Middle East was a great concern as well as the safety for Americans abroad due to retaliation for what Terry Jones was planning to do. However, with these details, Terry Jones did not want to back down.

Was he breaking the law or was he just exercising his right to free speech and to share how he felt about Islam?

Terry Jones changed his mind at the last minute after all of the attention and after a great deal of fear had set in due to riots in the Middle East. This was going on at the same time as the issue over the Islamic Center in NYC and the one in Tennessee was going on. Tensions were already high. In the U.S., many people were debating different views and politicians had become involved as the 2010 mid-term elections were approaching.

When does one person’s freedom hinder another person’s freedom?

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas have gone to military funerals across the country but not to pay respects to the families or say goodbye to a friend or loved one. They are armed with signs that say, “God Hates You” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”. They feel America’s war casualties are God’s wrath for tolerating homosexuality. Is this really the time or place for a protest or picketing? Again, are they breaking a law? Do they have the right to do this? Do these families have the right to peacefully say goodbye to their loved ones?

Freedom is something that has set the U.S. apart from many other countries around the world. Many countries do not allow near as many freedoms as the U.S. allows and although this sets us apart, this can also be a wedge that drives a great divide through the nation. The more one person’s freedom takes away from another person’s freedom, the nation loses its freedom and therefore what separates the U.S. from many countries around the world.

Freedoms lost today may not affect you, as it happens to one person or a group of people today it can happen to another tomorrow and then more people over time.

Americans must understand that every freedom we have today has come to us through someone’s great effort, fight and even death. Freedoms that have been gained over time can also be lost. They’re never to be taken lightly or for granted; not your own freedoms or someone else’s.

To be truly free requires the respect of the freedom of others and to know the limits of our freedoms. Then we, and those around us, can have a more meaningful and lasting freedom.