Friday, October 15, 2010

Combating Gay Teen Suicide: What Parents Can Do – by Dr. Harold Koplewicz, October 14, 2010 – The Huffington Post

Over the past few weeks it has been impossible to miss the flood of news stories about gay teens ending their own lives after enduring anti-gay bullying. Eighteen-year-old Tyler Clementi, 15-year-old Billy Lucas, and 13-year-olds Asher Brown and Seth Walsh were living in different corners of America -- New Jersey, Indiana, Texas, and California -- but each of them was subjected to the same kind of intolerance and cruelty, which included callous disregard for their online privacy.

To put this tragedy in context, suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15 to 24, and gay teens are four times more likely than straight teens to attempt suicide. It's important to understand, though, that the statistics concerning gay teens are relevant to all teens. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is that during adolescence, the mantra is, "I want to be the same, I want to be the same, I want to be the same." Teens want to be like everyone else, and when they see a gay student getting bullied for some perceived difference, they worry that their own differences -- and we all have them -- will be targeted by bullies next.

I know that many parents find it difficult to discuss sexuality with their teens, but discussion is crucial if we want our teens to develop good self-esteem, embrace their own differences, and accept what is different in others.

Here's some information for parents to consider:

Teens who are "different" are at higher risk for getting bullied.

All teens want to be "normal" and fit in with their peers, but when they exhibit differences -- in their sexual orientation, for example -- they can face cruel and unusual harassment and rejection. According to a survey by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, approximately 90 percent of gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual middle and high school students were physically or verbally harassed in 2009. As parents, no matter what we believe (with respect to sexuality, religion, politics, etc.), we are responsible for our kids' behavior and need to teach them to be intolerant of intolerance.
Read complete article:

maybe, there will exist 
well considered 
yet fervent public conviction 
that the
most deadly of all possible
is the mutilation of
child’s spirit.”

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