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Rutgers University Bullying Suicide Teaches a Powerful Lesson

I was walking through the airport terminal at Los Angeles International this morning, on my way home to South Florida to visit friends, family and enjoy the Florida State vs. Miami football game, when something out of the corner of my eye literally reached out and grabbed me.

There – on the front cover of one of the nation’s leading “What Are the Useless Celebrities Up to Today” magazines – was a cover story about the recent run of suicides due to bullying.

If it is on the cover of a nationwide magazine – even a gossip magazine – then you know it is something that is in the mainstream consciousness, as these types of magazines only run stories that will touch their readership.

The latest incident that has gained national prominence on most of the major news networks is the sad and enraging story of the Rutgers freshman who killed himself, Tyler Clementi.

This is sad for obvious reasons – I won’t insult your intelligence by going into it; what is enraging is HOW this came about.

Tyler was outed as homosexual.  Not by his own admission, under his own terms, first to those closest to him and then expanding from there.  No – his roommate, using a webcam connected to a computer that was in the same room as Tyler – remotely turned on the webcam and recorded Tyler with someone.

After that, he just used the Internet to spread the video and later, if the facts are correct, streamed the video live.

Devastating is the only word to describe how Tyler must have felt.

Look, teenagers typically do not have the healthiest self-image and self-esteem as it is, let alone a brand-new freshman at a prestigious university, away from home for the first time.

Added to that the insecurity and confusion he must have felt regarding his feelings towards the same gender; if you know anyone who lives an “alternative lifestyle” then you know – regardless of what you think about their lifestyle – their self-image, self-esteem and self-confidence are typically sensitive areas.

If Tyler was okay with his orientation and feelings about himself, he would have told his parents, friends and would have been “out” already; he obviously had chosen to keep it private, for his own reasons.

Well – he didn’t get the choice.  It was taken from him and, without the mental and emotional tools to deal with the situation, he turned to the only option he felt was available to him.

In this choice, Tyler – as sad, tragic and any other adjective you can think of – teaches us all a very powerful lesson when it comes to bullying.

And that lesson is the one you have heard me preaching, speaking, writing and standing from the rooftops month in and month out…

As adults – for ourselves – and as parents, the #1, Numero Uno Thing we simply must teach is that no one person or event on the face of this planet gets to take our power away from us.

No one event defines you.  No one failure.  No one failed marriage.  No one giant mistake when you were a kid.  No failed business, bad decision, girl-that-you-let-get-away, nothing.

I have told my story of molestation that happened to me as a child.  I have shared how, unwittingly at the time, that person had “taken my power” from me and I was going through life, not performing or acting in a way that was consistent with how I was raised, who I was and what I believed in.

I drank too much, partied too hard, was irresponsible in many ways… I made many mistakes; it it wasn’t until I realized what happened and DECIDED to take back my power – to decide who I was, what I stood for and that NO ONE gets to decide how I feel about myself except me – that my life began to change.

This is the kind of gift you can give yourself and your child that is priceless.  It is the most powerful thing I can think of for the human spirit.

Imagine if Tyler had this gift; imagine if Tyler was able to have this same event happen to him and be able to look himself in the mirror and say, “Okay, this bites, but maybe it’s a good thing; now I don’t have to hide anymore.”

Or maybe he looks at it as a test, to see how strong an individual he is; maybe he looks at it as a lesson in who you can and can’t trust.  Maybe he figures out a way to turn it into something that can help others who may be in the same situation…anything but how he felt and how he ultimately decided to handle the situation.

People like Tyler need the tools and information so they can learn how to protect themselves.  Yes, there are well-meaning organizations out there that have websites and resources but sadly, most of what they are teaching and how they go about helping does not work.

What you and I were taught about bullying growing up and now, in the wired 21st century, doesn’t work.

If it did, bullying wouldn’t be as big as it is right now.

That is why I am on a mission and why I created http://www.bullyproofkids.com.  It will soon be the #1 No B.S. Resource of Anti-Bullying Information That Really Works.

The new version is live; I will be adding many more tools, products, reports, interviews and more in the next few weeks and you will be among the first to have the opportunity to jump aboard an exclusive program I have coming in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, let’s remind ourselves to “Take Back Our Power” from the bullies, energy suckers and negative B.S. in our lives and to teach our children to do the same.

That way, we can reach out and help prevent more incidents like Tyler Clementi and Phoebe Prince and help erase bullying from all of our lives.

Take Back Your Power & Live a Bully Proof Life,

Sensei Huff

P.S. – The new and improved site is live – check it out at http://www.bullyproofkids.com.

P.P.S. – Please comment on this post and others; I love hearing your feedback.

4 Comments

  1. Brian Curry
    Oct 20, 2010 @ 12:40:35

    Mr Huff,
    I just got done with a copy of your "Bully Proof Kids" the my Sensei Josh Churchill lent me.  As a parent of 2 boys, former Navy Combat Vet, and 1st degree Brown Belt, I could not agree more with all the principals of your book.  You are RIGHT ON with this, great stuff.  Thank you for making the effort to help parents become more aware of what is at stake with thier kids in this crazy society!
     
    Best of Luck,
    Brian Curry
    Poway California

    Reply

    • baldguy1
      Oct 26, 2010 @ 07:09:41

      Brian,

      Thank you for the kind words. Please let anyone you know who is dealing with bullies either as adults of children about the book and the site.

      If enough people start taking back their power, MANY things – and not just bullying – can start to change for the better.

      Sensei

      Reply

  2. Sensei
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 07:17:56

    Hello Jenise,

    Sadly, that is EXACTLY the problem with schools – and in no small part, society – when it comes to bullying. Your daughter did the right thing by trying to avoid a fight, and then protected herself when she had to, which got her suspended.

    And, by suspending her and NOT the girl that started it, it sounds like it emboldened the bully to keep bullying, instead of learning the lesson she should have learned.

    This is the kind of B.S. mentality that we simply MUST get out of our school systems and society in general.

    Best to you and your family,

    Sensei

    Reply

  3. Sensei
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 07:22:50

    Hey Yarimar,

    I am “vertically challenged” as well; in school, I was the chubby kid until high school, then I grew and was the short, skinny kid with the big afro (not kidding – I’ll get a photo to prove it).

    If it is just verbal jabs right now, one of the things I used to do was AGREE with them, and make jokes along with them about my height – but here is the key:

    YOU have to know – in your heart and in your head – that you are doing this to control the situation and NOT that you agree or believe there is something wrong with you.

    Bullies get their “feel good” by controlling your emotions and reactions; turn the tables by taking control of the situation and they no longer get the “feel good”.

    Good luck – keep me posted.

    Sensei

    Reply

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