Nerd. Geek. Queer. Fag. Dyke. How many times have you heard these words in a derogatory manner? How many times have they been directed at you? When I think back to my time in school I can not help but recall just how mean kids can often be.
As I have said in the past, “the geek shall inherit the earth.” Now that I am grown I realize this and gladly welcome it. But as a teenager growing up with these phrases being tossed about because you are not on the football team, or a cheerleader, or you don’t live in the rich neighborhood; it is hard to see that day in the future when those words will come to fruition. For that matter, is it resigned only to peers to instill the “hate” of bullying? How many of us have sat in a guidance counselor’s office to be told that we won’t make it in college and should think about doing something else instead of trying? I can’t have been the only one this has happened to. And now? Here I sit with a great family, a Master’s Degree, and a management position.
Now that I have that wonderful family, I can not help but dread my children having to go through the torment simply because they think superheroes and Star Wars are cool or because they have a wild imagination or ask a lot of questions. Fortunately, Hope for Teens, a non-profit organization founded and based in Raleigh, NC, is there to help people that suffer this pain and feel they have nowhere else to turn. Inspired by organizations like The Trevor Project and It Gets Better, Hope for Teens’ mission is to provide support and positive feedback for teens that feel bullied, cyber-bullied, or otherwise outcast due to their beliefs and choices.
You may be asking yourself, “But what can I do?” It is simple. If you are a teenager or a witness to this type of behavior, stand up and support those on the receiving end. If you are an adult; be supportive and show a level of understanding and empathy. Be open and available for your kids to talk to and if necessary, take action by going to their school or wherever the behavior is taking place and let them know it will not be tolerated. If you can make contributions do so. It does not have to be money, you can donate time, services, or materials to organizations like Hope for Teens.
Right now, Hope for Teens is one of the agencies that is in the running for a grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project and probably the easiest thing you can do is something you do every day. Now through the end of this month, click a link and VOTE for Hope for Teens so they can continue to operate and help the leaders of our future know that tomorrow is a better place and they are valuable even though they may not realize it now. And as is commonly said, please “Vote early. Vote often!”