Respond Softly & Carry An Active Ear

The difficulty of explaining how life can feel overshadowed by prejudice starts the moment a person picks an example of confrontation to draw upon.  Once their story is told, the mind of a listener instantly works to assess what occurred and why.  Our brain asks what can be learned (or forgotten) from the experience?  Unfortunately, listeners on occasion write experiences off as “just a bad day.”  A bad day can belong to either the confrontational stranger or the person explaining the discomfort from their example.  This misleading response feels genuine when trying to comfort someone unnerved by a difficult interaction.

It is, however, a truly odd mental balancing act we seem conditioned to respond with.  A simultaneous exercise of suggesting others can be morally lead astray due the grind of day to day living.  All the while trying to nurture hope that society isn’t full of quick to judge strangers.  We carry good intentions, yet how comforting is our response really?  This one example our friend or family member confides in us may be a drop in the bucket compared to the list of confrontational memories they carry.



We wonder what mental complexes are being developed in the minds of bullied youth?  It would seem difficult to decipher between circumstantial situations and legitimate, reoccurring examples that suggest a deeper social issue victims are faced with.  Everything comes to a head, however, when a victim is left with the painful question “what is it about me that provoked this treatment?”

Next time a friend or family member tells you about a difficult interaction take careful time to consider their perspective.  Is this another puzzle piece to a greater image growing in their mind?  How does a person comfort another without being dismissive of raw, confused emotions?  Try this:

  • Start by addressing confusion any victim of prejudiced confrontations expresses. Try to work past specific actions to find core emotions provoked by the experience.
  • Ask “why do you think they chose to confront you?” Comfort them if they felt targeted for how they look or are perceived as by the offending party.  Remind them that no one deserves to be judged so quickly.
  • Ask them if anything like this has happened before. Remind them that they have a right to feel safe.
  • Carry no shame in admitting you also do not understand the motivations of a bully. Confusion is difficult and does not always go away quickly.  Empathy, however, always helps a person feel less alone.
  • Understand that apologizing for the situation doesn’t mean you excuse the offender. It is simply one of many ways to acknowledge the real hurt a victim feels.

From kindergarten until graduation day children are expected to follow rules and schedules dictated by their elders.  Growing up, it can be difficult for children to speak up when they don’t feel they are heard or have a say in their day to day.  Yet every child wishes to be heard when they feel hurt or threatened.  That desire will never cease when reach adulthood.

We must stay vigilant to actively listen and not write their stories off as “bad days.”  That is how we give expectations to victims that “bad days” and the real emotions that come with them are dismiss-able.  And that truly is how we cancel out our want to comfort and negate our ability to give hope to others.

Tuesday’s Gone With The Wind

Shortly after graduating high school, after packing and taking the long trek to my new college town – I received a call about my Uncle committing suicide.  I remember a feeling like the world didn’t rotate for a second.  I wondered how long I had been living my life, how many hopeful hours I spent alive after he died.  Walking on campus in what was to be my new home for the next few years was surreal.  It was the first time in my memory where I understood the heavy nature of what had occurred.  It felt so odd being called, hearing that message and then being set out to wade through a sea of humanity.  Strangers all oblivious to the grief I was feeling.  For him, for my younger cousins and my aunt.

I remember he spoke sweetly to me.  Lifted me up once to kiss me on the cheek before bidding me adieu.  I remember a tall man with a warm grin, heading out the door and on to new adventures.  I would love to speak with him again.

From that phone call to the end of his funeral service, it was the first time I wondered how to address suicide and the suicidal.  With what I’ve learned since his passing I pray that the words I used to comfort our family weren’t some cliché.  Wasn’t something that sounded like a hollow line already spouted out by the last three relatives they were hugged by.

I can understand why people use clichés.  People parrot phrases coined from the time of Shakespeare when heavy subjects come on because sometimes there are too emotions to process.  Too many words and not enough time.

Wait.  Not enough time?  To ask ‘how are you?’  ‘No, really, are you doing alright?’  ‘If you ever need to just vent about life, I don’t mind listening.’  That last one may take some time out of one’s afternoon, yet those hours can save years.  Years that a person can add to their lifespan, time working to find hope again and goals to be truly proud of.  Lending your ear to someone who is either suicidal or even just deeply distraught means you are lending your heart.

Life is full of complex issues and clichés are an understandable start.  Understandable ONLY if your sentiment is followed up with active listening.  Focus on the positives, but don’t be demeaning.  Let them guide the conversation at their own pace and be patient.  Sympathy is nice, but empathy is the emotional process that can yield real solutions.  Always question “if this was me, what change would I want to see? How do we make this happen?”

If you need your voice to be heard, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.  Other very helpful resources are listed below.  No matter what pace your world is turning – our mission to save lives will never change.  We are rooting for you and your children’s lives because they matter.  ALWAYS.



Anti-Bullying Anti-Endorsement

BATCOW pushes to highlight the nature of bullying as cowardly and has never found a good reason to ever name names.  Unfortunately, one name keeps popping up in our inbox thanks to Google alerts set with the keywords “bully” and “bullying.” Guess whose name dominates bully news these days?  While BATCOTW is not interested in endorsing any candidate our organization must address the elephant in the room.

We cannot stand idly by while blatant bullying is not only getting constant media attention, but is being considered a legit movement.  The whole point of our campaign was to stand up and say “no” to what is so obviously abusive behavior.  Trump only appears powerful because of those who follow his despicable behavior.

The president of the National Education Association, Lily E. Garcia explained how these days: “Children feel they are given permission to repeat things they are hearing out of Donald Trump’s mouth.”  News reports have consistently discussed how bullying in its many forms is back on the rise.

This year has been very trying due to constant distraction coming from a campaign full of nightmare discourse.  We know words and communication matters because we’ve seen how hate speech can push a child to end their life.  We’ve watched this election and can’t help but think of the students spending their day trying to avoid someone dead set on cutting them down.  Only to return home and see the same type of barbs thrown between potential presidential candidates on their parent’s television.  Or radio.  Or Facebook feed or….

Today we will call Trump out because of our ultimate goal to protect society’s youth as they grow into our future.  It’s very sad to think of the many hard-working anti bullying campaigns that have worked for years to create safe spaces for growing children.  Just to hear that tide is trying to turn back.  Look at the faces of students who have committed suicide due to the poison of bullying.  They were scapegoated and hated for being different.  The textbook bullying behavior of Donald Trump has affected not only adult society – but our youth who is also watching this election with us.  Let us never dismiss the need to set good examples for our children and for our collective future.

Also worth checking out:  Children React To Trump

Cited article for quote:

No Reason Is A Good Reason

I’ve unfortunately read about the various ways in which the bullycidal have ended their lives.  When we get the awful news of a child’s suicide it causes us to stare back in shock.  We become heartbroken to consider the conviction it takes to make such a fatal choice.  We, as well as the bullies, are forced to look back on a short life and recognize the potential of another unique child lost.  Every story of the fallen leaves us looking back at sweet pictures and hearing raw memories about how “they just wanted to be a kid.”

Yet on the flipside, it is unbelievably frustrating how the specific behaviors reported of bullies are repetitive.  There is nothing unique about their petty push for power.  Bullies are only “personal” in that they obviously have personal problems they wish to project onto others.  How do they do it?  Someone takes the reigns and spends an unreasonable effort to get others involved.  Then they arbitrarily single someone out because…

…well, no reason is a good reason.  The sick game of constant harassment includes stereotypical bully behavior such as physical abuse and verbal/emotional trauma.  What could possibly be appealing about playing out a role often portrayed as villainous in films?  There’s a reason why the henchman of antagonists in film are portrayed as a threat.  As unapproachable.  As wrong for supporting hate.

Adam, like a lot of the children discussed here, has been described as kind and intelligent.  He skate boarded and listened to rock music.  He unwillingly found himself in a short video that was posted online a week before his death.  Poor Adam was punched in the face, surrounded by laughing cowards as he landed on the hard ground.  The cowards provided the sick laugh track chose to join the crowd instead of stepping in to help up their fellow student.  One profound detail in the report about this bulling incident is that he never raised his hands in response to his attacker.

Adam just wanted to be a kid.


On May 21st, 2015 the bullying crowd at Bournside School had to answer the question:  How does it feel to hear that Adam was found hanging from a tree?  Surely no child, no human would feel they’ve accomplished a great deed in pushing someone to suicide.  Taking part in a bullying situation benefits absolutely NO ONE.  We must push to continue educating our children and adults that those who participate in hate could just as easily be victimized.  Specific insults and attacks from bullies are unoriginal in how clichéd they can be.

If there’s something not predictable about the element of bullying it is in how they chose their victims.  Bullying is about wanting control when they want it and there’s no telling who they will target next.  Feeling pressure to not be singled out, however, is never a good excuse to comply with a bully.  Not when lives are on the line.

Image courtesy of cited source:

Roles of Seasons

Tis the season again…


Its that seemingly rare time of the year when both children and adults contemplate how to dress up and be whatever they wish to be.  Tallulah Wilson, however, was a 15 year old who had been living out a role many girls dream of:  Tallulah was a talented ballerina once headhunted by the Royal Ballet School in London.


Unfortunately, she never made it to enrollment.  Her story is difficult to address as it brings forth a subject that causes most to naturally flinch – cutting.  Self-harm is another rarely discussed, yet important subject when discussing the realities of those living with suicidal thoughts.  Any form of self mutilation is a major red flag that must be confronted calmly and directly.    

The biggest factor that drove Tallulah to pursue another persona online came from her experience with bullying at school.  The most alarming takeaway from the investigation of what lead up to her fate.  Reports found that Tallulah was “told not to come back to St Marylebone in May 2012 after showing a school nurse recent self-harming wounds.”  A staff member of the school called her mother directly to explain that Tallulah’s school “could no longer keep her safe.”  Horrendous to think a school would ever admit it “wouldn’t be able to fulfill its duty of care.”  

In retrospect, as is sadly often the case in these matters, schools should strive solutions to help their students as soon as cries for help such as cutting presents itself.  Tallulah’s childhood began ending as she became exposed to an online community who was looking to normalize the alarming behavior of self mutilation.  The isolation cut deeper.  Her alter ego took on dark emotions many strive to push away from.  

Sadly, another youth lost sight of her promising future.  Tallulah stopped practicing pirouettes and ended her life by stepping in front of a train.  Her story has been described as “Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare” and our hearts go out those in constant mourning.  Let us strive to promote hope not only offline in the real world, but with online community as well.

If you are suffering from depression or a disorder, please seek help. Talk to your parents or a trusted adult.  For confidential crisis counseling, you can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and”>

If you cut or self-harm, you can get support and referrals by calling the S.A.F.E. Alternatives information line in the U.S. at (800) 366-8288.  Outside of the U.S. please visit

Cited Sources:  

  • Image provided by:


Its been months since I’ve sat down and completed my ongoing thoughts on the heavy subject of suicide.  Yet at no point in my blogging hiatus have I forgotten about the real issues faced by youth confronted by intolerance on the daily.  How I’ve longed to “dust off” our website and jump back into an ongoing conversation.  Yet its been nerve wracking to confront all the dust kicked up by a society that allows the mass marketing of blatant bullying to proceed.  Seemingly without consequence.

 img_0007  *ahem*

I’ve fought the temptation to play politics; scapegoating often causes one to lose focus on solutions to the very issues they present.  I have realized, however, that I made a common mistake most adults in America make:  I assumed politics were not for kids.

How could I?  The response to our first music video contest brought voices from around the globe reminding me that students feel very strongly about their communities.  About how they treat each other with civility while growing together into the future.  The reality for modern students in this country is that the example above represents one of many, many voices that can be found online promoting bully like behavior.

A previous post here addressed the mistake adults make by assuming bullying is a type of milestone – something experienced only in one’s childhood.  Yet here we are, witnessing a very hard to explain election alongside our children.  Witnessing name calling, because both sides have dabbled in lowering the bar this year.  Anyone is capable of finding YouTube clips of candidates outright promoting violence to anyone who does not pass subjective tests of being considered socially acceptable.


Bullying is a political issue that cannot be pushed on students to ponder and solve alone.  Not when individuals vying to be president emulate the exact behavior we tried to teach our children not to participate in for decades.  “Play nice with others” should not have an age restriction.  After all, suicide is not an adults only issue these days given the epidemic of lives being lost long before they truly began.

Our students deserve better examples.  Not just from our politicians but from any adult they interact with.  Their political issues matter because their lives matter.  They are on this journey with us.  Valuable conversations happen with students and family members when we make sure to listen to one another.  Let the dust from hate settle and sweep away intolerance with patience and kind words.

[Image courtesy of: / Trump image screenshot from CNN newsfeed]

Hard Memories

Recently I was reviewing an entry from our music video contest that impressed me with not only the presentation, but the educational slides put together as a result of their research. I looked upon new and familiar faces of the victims affected by bullycide. One familiar face in particular belonging to Rehtaeh Parsons – a stunning young woman from Nova Scotia who sported a distinct tattoo symbolizing “strength and courage.” I finally read into her heartbreaking story when it hit me: the students who put together those slides had read the same horrifying story I had.

So far Rehtaeh’s story has been the most difficult to fathom.

Some of the bullies she fought were the very people who raped her. Her aggressors would go on to photograph and distribute her traumatic assault. She would leave her school (like many do) to try living somewhere new. Unfortunately, she was surrounded by constant reminders of her ordeal and constant bullying for TWO YEARS. She would succumb to the constant abuse by taking her life in 2013.

Given the nature of this subject work can be challenging as I find myself suddenly faced with the grim reality of abuse that follows the bullied. I’ve avoid watching the plethora of bully beat down videos, because I gain nothing from watching people fight and innocents get beaten. I question what drives the media to share such violent imagery, but struggle with the need to spread awareness of how people need to treat each other humanely. I cannot honestly say I take pride in exposing our followers to dark stories since I take no joy in learning specifically how cruel the world can be.

I feel comforted with the carefully made music video from John F. Kennedy high school.  They ended with encouraging words and smiling faces. How grown up the girls in that film seem – researching heavy subjects that most adults shirk from. Pressing on to educate and encourage those currently struggling to not give up hope for a better day.   ((Winning Entry Here))

Awareness comes in many forms just like people do.  As long as we can focus on learning from tragedy and work to avoid it – that is how we can stomach hard memories to create an easier future for all us kids and adults.

Photo courtesy of:

Bullying As A Milestone

After reading story after story of children who are pushed into a fatal decision by bullies – I cannot seem to get a major question out of my mind:  What is the motivation for adults (or any other bystanders of any age) to cover for the acts of bullies?  More specifically, I’m pondering the role of school staff here in America and any adults involved in the reporting process of a bullying event.  Many parents have been left feeling helpless after hearing their child’s abuse is not an issue.  Dismissive phrases like “I wasn’t aware of this and haven’t seen anything to prove its happening” or “kids will be kids” can be devastating to both parent and child.  Worst yet are the red flagged comments that suggest bullying is just a fact of life:  “Your child needs to learn to have a thicker skin.”

I guess “adults will be adults” and mistakenly consider bullying to be a social milestone all children have to deal with.  Is it possible that they see this more than just a thing that happens – they see this as something this is SUPPOSED to happen?

We no longer live in a caste system.  Americans may try to separate themselves with money or walls or violence.  But at the end of the day, we are all equal people; including our young people.  Our country may have a diverse mix of cultures with milestone expectations center around different ages.  Yet consider how basic milestones in life tend to match another human’s life you may have absolutely nothing in common with.  Major milestones like learning to walk, learning to speak, entering school to learn, graduating, marriage, etc. etc.  The curious and sometimes judgmental eyes of our fellow citizens measure our lives not only by our age number, but by what we have accomplished up to that point in time.  Milestone events shape your humanity and role as a member of society.  Accomplishments and growth are measured in milestones.

At what point in this journey of life would abuse from a bully help us grow or accomplish anything?  The very goal of bullying is to stop someone from behaving or achieving something in the manner they wish.  Milestones are about development – bullying is about destruction.  Bullying is not a milestone, it’s a stop sign.


“Kids will be kids” does not address the very real and frightening abuse victims of bullying face in modern times.  Threats on their lives, constant negative attacks on their personality or looks.  Stalking, because a bully’s playground doesn’t end at the recess yard anymore.  I have a strong suspicion that a lot of adults judge children’s issues by the standards of their own childhood.  Well intentioned to try and remember that perspective.  But a majority of American adults would agree that no child deserves to live in fear or under the threat of violence.

If “kids will be kids” then for their sake let us adults to be real adults by:  1) acknowledge a problem (& also solution!) exists and 2) work to steer bullies towards being civil adults NOW.


Interests & Talents Are Not Dictated By Gender

How often have you been ridiculed for doing something not “manly” or “lady like?”  For trying something new and different – something you really enjoyed?

12 year old Ronin Shimizu was bullied for his interest in cheerleading with an all-female team.  He used his talent to encourage an audience to celebrate the talents of others.  At a young age, all he was looking to do was entertain while keeping active.  Those who knew him expressed knowing a friendly young man who brightened their day.

But tragically, the bullying got so bad Ronin found himself pulled out of school to be home schooled.  The school district acknowledged multiple complaints and claimed they “followed protocol.”


Early December 2014 Ronin took his life on a Wednesday afternoon.

Like all these cases, we are left with questions regarding how truly involved his school and community was to fend off the cowardly behavior of bullies.  What more can we do when a child leaves school – either temporarily or permanently?  Shame on the bullies; but also – what behaviors did they mimic from watching adults?  How many opportunities were missed for someone to remind these bullies that Ronin worked hard not to be “one of the girls” but to be himself.

Ronin’s story surprisingly reports that his bullies were directly contacted and informed of the consequences of their actions.  “…they were like shocked,” said a fellow student.  “[They] learned their lesson on how words can hurt.”  Another 11 year old was quoted:23C6C1BF00000578-2862375-image-a-42_1417796735564

Out of the mouth of babes.

Our society has shown its ability to celebrate the “first woman/man” of (insert field of achievement here).  Many men have entered fashion, many women have become astronauts for example.  We marvel at their ability to push past gender stereotyping for things they are passionate about.

Why not celebrate the journey of people before they achieve their goal?  Genuine interests and talents ARE NOT dictated by gender.  Our team here at BATCOTW supports whoever you wish to be and whatever you choose to do to live a full and happy life as YOU.  Good luck out there, friends.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can provide help if you or someone you know is considering suicide {24 hours a day support}:  1-800-273-8255


Speaking with the Suicidal

Not intending to brag here, but when I’m offline, away from the anti-bullycide campaigning, I am working the phones for a non-profit built to assist low to no income families. They provide housing options and food banks for thousands of folks here in the greater Seattle area. My job specifically focuses on providing transportation to medical appointments. Despite being difficult, the work is quite rewarding; not to mention consistently eye opening. Specifically, the time my headset put a blunt admission in my ear from a person looking for a ride home after staying the night in the ER:

I tried to kill myself.  But I’m ready to go home. I don’t think I’ll consider doing something that stupid again.”

This person was so casual and upfront even after a traumatic night. I remember suddenly feeling choked up and thinking hard on how to voice my genuine concern. I believed this person was not only upfront but very, very brave to face the world again. (During research I’ve heard that people who have attempted or contemplated suicide don’t really want to die.)

My response: “Your feelings aren’t stupid…I really hope your doctors gave you the help you need. Please take care of yourself.” The voice thanked me for the comment and the ride. How I pray my words didn’t sound empty. Dismissive. Uncaring.

More often than not we as a society are unable to witness the true effect our comments have on others – including strangers. I wonder if the words we give to strangers somehow carry a greater impact? I don’t remember the name of the person I spoke with that day and can’t say if I was the first person outside of a doctor to speak to them. It is physically/mentally impossible to tell who is suicidal by looking at them or by hearing their voice. Tragic stories leading to suicide include missed opportunities for the kindness of others to shine through. It may not be an easy feat, but if you have the opportunity to be civil to strangers: DO IT. What if a hateful comment you make ends up being the last straw that drives a person to harm themselves or others? Your words may be the only comfort desperately needed in a life trying to work through the darkness.

Very helpful video on how to talk to someone who admits to wanting to end their life: