Monday, February 6, 2012

Friends, Family of 14-Year-Old Rafael Morelos Say Goodbye with Candlelight Vigil

Add another name to last week's casualty list.  Tonight, friends and family of 14-year-old Rafael Morelos said goodbye to him with a candlelight vigil.  Rafael was an openly gay student who was the victim of bullycide.  So, here's last week's "tally" of teen suicides:  4 reported incidences; 3 of them stemming from bullying. 

What needs to be done, and what's actually beginning to happen, is there needs to be solid, definitive action taken to identify, intervene, and prevent bullying.  The urgency speaks for itself.  Four young people under the age of 18 took their own lives last week, and three of them as a result of bullying.  That's not acceptable.

Information is needed, and it needs to be shared and shared again.  Having a Bullying Prevention Policy Guideline is a good place to start.  This particular one is in downloadable PDF form so that everyone can have their own copy handy.

Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, offers a guideline for teachers.  In most school systems across the country, this guideline will go a long way to creating a much safer environment for all of their students.  I say most because there are still school systems pushing hard for a version of "Don't Say Gay" in their schools.  I'll come back to that issue.

And, of course, in today's world, having a Guideline on ...Cyberbullying Prevention is essential.  At least one of last week's deaths was attributed to, at least in part, cyberbullying. 

The fact of the matter is that, in the end, it's going to be us, the concerned citizens, who are going to make the difference in these young people's lives.  Governments are playing politics with young people's lives; school systems are not addressing the situation.  Meanwhile, lives are being lost at an alarming rate. 

Rafael Morelos, may you now find peace.  I wish someone could've reached you in time.