Recently, I read an article by an LGBT activist who was actually angry that the movement has been "hijacked by celebrities and everyone else". That would be ( in her opinion ) parents like me, who's child died but wasn't part of the LGBT community. She believes the movement began with the It Gets Better Project. Don't misunderstand me here, I believe the It Gets Better Project is a very worthy and important cause. I have absolutely no issue with them but, as I told the author, the movement began long before that organization was founded. Some of us have been fighting to raise awareness of bullying in our schools and the suicides related to it for years longer. I began working on the issue locally back in 2007. The movement did not begin as an LGBTQ issue; it wasn't exclusively one then and it isn't now. It was begun by parents like me because our children were dying. They still are. No child deserves to be bullied, regardless of circumstance or personal identity.
There's even one "esteemed" psychologist out there who is proud of being an outspoken critic the of anti-bullying movement. I won't supply a link to his site, since he makes a living selling seminars to teach educators "his" method of violence prevention. That makes him a hypocrite, in my opinion. His method is hardly new or groundbreaking, but he's been earning a living at his chosen pursuit for twenty years, and seems to hold a grudge against those of us who came along later. Not what I'd call a professional attitude.
Solutions will not be found by bickering and in-fighting. We have to maintain respect and common courtesy in the movement and society in general if we want kids to get the right message. Ironically, some people have become anti-bullying bullies!
I must admit that I'm not particularly convinced that many of the various anti-bullying programs and laws out there are going to be effective in the long run. A lot of schools are implementing various programs and policies to try to stem the tide of violence, but with so many to choose from, it's no wonder it's difficult for them to determine which ones to use. I think the focus of such empathy education should be the earliest years of school to be most effective. I also think it's important that schools have policies in place to respond to these problems.
To be honest, the most effective way change the environment of a school that I've encountered is for the social leaders in the student population to lead by example. Cases like Chy Johnson's show what can happen when the popular kids or the school team speak out.
"A bunch of high school football players from Queen Creek, Ariz., did something very unusual that rightfully generated considerable positive attention, and they changed the life of a special-needs girl who faces an uphill climb in life." Hillsboro Free PressI certainly don't think anti-bullying programs do any harm, but the whole idea of changing youth culture by authority driven programs alone is kind of absurd. We didn't buy into it when our teachers tried to "rah rah" us into something, did we? Kids today are no different, most are suspicious of any such top-down enthusiasm. Nothing beats making respect and decency cool.
Too many laws are badly written by politicians more interested in appearances than effectiveness. The best approaches I've seen are attempts to tweak existing laws to specifically include cyber-bullying behaviours. Current laws against acts of violence and harassment have not been effective in stemming the tide of school violence, so they need to be adjusted to allow for realistic chances of working and, perhaps even more importantly, provide for consequences more appropriate to otherwise average kids. These aren't criminals, they're kids. The passing of anti-bullying laws that focus on the act rather than the identity ( real or perceived ) of the victim are far more legally effective and useful than laws aimed at a small group. They are also more just, by definition.
I can certainly understand why many people have become disillusioned with the anti-bullying movement. I agree that it has been marketed to the masses, with all the usual profit and celebrity driven nonsense that comes along with it, but that's ok, it's part of the process. When the media hype fades, and celebrities move on to the next movement, there will still be lots of us out there working for a solution without any other motive or paycheck involved.