Celebrate the Day Of Silence: Stop Calling it Bullying!

It’s the 15th annual Day of Silence, a GLSEN-sponsored international event to raise awareness of and stop anti-LGBT violence in our schools. I hope people will take this post in that context.

I’ve recently begun following actor/comedian/commentator John Fugelsang on the twitter. He’s a damn funny guy and knows how to say a lot in 140 characters or less.

A few weeks ago, he hit us with this message: “Calling peer abuse ‘bullying’ is about as effective as calling homeless people ‘hoboes,'” and linked to a video commentary he made last October for GRITtv, after a spate of LGBT youth suicides hit the news.

John is absolutely right. The time has come to put away this term that has come to minimize what’s being done to so many of our children and youth.

My saying that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while; I said the same thing two years ago after Carl Walker Hoover completed suicide a week before his 12th birthday.

I just wonder what would happen if people stopped calling it “bullying” and started calling it what it really is: ABUSE. Would that change the way people react to it? Would that loosen the hold of the “boys will be boys” mentality?

So from now on, you’ll only see me call it peer abuse. It’s our jobs as parents, educators, administrators, clergy, mentors, and friends to stand up for the abused. Not only that, it’s our job to stand up against the bullies abusers and help them to stop being abusers.

Because really, as much anger and frustration as I have with peer abusers, it’s the adults who are the real problem.

Day of Silence 2011