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Bullied Teen Steps Up to the Plate to Help Other Victims

When parents send their children to school each day, their minimum expectation is that they will be safe.

The 17-year-old student suspected this week of shooting to death three classmates and wounding two others in the cafeteria of their Cleveland high school was characterized by some as an outcast and a victim of bullying.

Despite all the safety measures schools have put in place since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 that killed 13 and all of the attention placed on bullying prevention, we have clearly not made enough progress. When parents send their children to school each day, their minimum expectation is that they will be safe. The ways to do that are not simple because they involve multiple fronts, including gun control, parenting, school safety and security, mental health awareness, and of course, bullying prevention. As the unfortunate ramifications of bullying come to the forefront once again, here’s a heartwarming story of one young person, Jamie Isaacs, who is trying to make a difference after being a victim of bullying herself.

When adults ponder solutions to the bullying epidemic, they often view young people as a big part of the problem. But LI teen Jamie Isaacs -- a victim of bullying herself -- is determined to be part of the solution.

Jamie’s journey began when she was a second grade student and was bullied by a
classmate at her Lake Grove elementary school. As the years went by, other
students joined in, forming an “I Hate Jamie Club.” Members of the club sent Jamie derisive emails and even death threats. Her parents ultimately decided to
transfer her to a private school.

Now 15, Jamie has started a foundation, written a book, and is lobbying for
stricter laws. She is also in the process of writing and recording a song about
her bullying experience and is shooting a music video to accompany the song. Last summer she worked with filmmakers to create a documentary about bullying. Her book, In Jamie’s Words, is her effort to be a voice for other victims of bullying, and to share the strategies she used to persevere.

The Jamie Isaacs Foundation for Anti-Bullying runs a hotline that takes calls from
kids who are being bullied. It also presents programs to students, teachers,
and administrators to help raise awareness about the signs and effects of
bullying. In addition, the foundation assists children and their families to
find services and resources to help them overcome the impact of bullying.

According to Newsday, Jamie was recently honored, along with Paige Pless of Albany, by the New York State Senate for their attempts to stop the spread of cyber-bullying.

"I didn't want what happened to me to ever happen to anyone else," she told
Newsday. She added that it is important for victims not to feel alone.

"That helps them, knowing that there's someone else out there like them that's
experiencing the same thing.”

Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) introduced resolutions commending the two teens for
fighting against harassment and bullying that occur online.

Last month, Klein introduced a cyber-bullying bill that would expand the crimes of
stalking and aggravated harassment by adding engaging in "electronic
communication" with minors.

"What we're seeing now in the digital age is hundreds, hordes of invisible bullies
that are hiding behind social media and harassing one another," Klein told
Newsday. "The old adage is that sticks and stones may break your bones but
words cannot harm you, I think we're seeing, unfortunately, that words can
kill.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57386080/suspect-idd-in-deadly-ohio-school-shooting/

http://www.jamieisaacsfoundation.org/

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/jamie-isaacs-honored-for-cyberbully-efforts-1.3527514

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

James Turzer March 03, 2012 at 04:06 PM
This piece ends with "words can kill". What's next, "thoughts can kill"? Let's not turn our kids into helpless victims who fall apart at the slightest hint mistreatment by others. Let's encourage them to develop some tolerance and personal fortitude. We give them pain killers when they scrape their knees, and then wonder why they use drugs in middle school.
Larry March 06, 2012 at 12:43 PM
The easiest way to help your kid not be bullied is to teach them to fight back. if your kid is being screwed with teach them to walk up to the nastiest one and punch them right in the face. you might get beat up but they will know if you mess with me your gonna get hurt i will hit back
Judy Cangemi March 07, 2012 at 12:26 PM
While both my husband and I were bullied as kids, he had it much worse than I did for a longer time. It had a huge impact on who he became as a man. Some of it built character, a lot of it ate away at his self-image. He told me that school days were torture. The walk home was worse. But as soon as he walked through his front door, he could breathe. The bullying was over for that day. He had relief in the safety of his home. Kids today don't have that. Home is not the sanctuary it once was. The bullies invade there, too via social media and other venues. While I do agree to an extent with the comments James and Larry made here, the issue is not so simple. I agree the world is not Shangri-la and kids need to learn to deal with adversity to build strength. However, I survived childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse. It is the emotional abuse - the words used as instruments of torture - that I am still working to recover from. To a greater extent I've gotten past the sexual and physical abuse. They were moments in time and that time has passed. It is done. The words constantly echo in my head, embedded deep into my psyche, so it is as if it is ongoing. I'm lucky. I found a support system to help me recover. Kids and teens have tunnel vision and being bullied furthers the feelings of isolation. Rather than concentrating on how to stand up to bullies (and I do strongly believe in hitting back), we need to stop the bullies before they start. Good job, Jamie.
Larry March 09, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Well i agree that while your going through it , it sucks. However when you are in your home you have control to not go on these social media web sites that are people lying about themselves. How great their lives are that they have to post it for the world to see.. If it was that great you would be modest about it most people on social web sites are miserable. Secondly if the words that people say still bother you years later, you gotta let it go. The best way to do that is go see some of those idiots that spoke to you that way, most are losers living a pathetic life and you will get the last laugh.. West Islip if full of pompous arrogant little a__holes that learned from their parents how to not care about anothers feelings, The best is go to the high school reunions and see the losers first hand, the big a__holes usually don't show because they are embarrassed about what huge losers they have become!!
Megan Gilroy March 24, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Kid benefit from learning to stick up for themselves in bullying situations. Plus, these tools can benefit them beyond the school years. Judy mentioned from her own experience hurtful words still echo as an adult. Studies indicate that the 4 years of high school often have a greater impact on our self-image than anything else! A 6 year old said it best: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will break my heart." Think about how beneficial it is to be your own best advocate in social situations (not succumbing to peer pressure) and how empowering it feels to know how to diffuse a potentially violent situation. I'm extremely biased in favor of learning self defense, since I take classes (at Modern Warrior). I've experienced tremendous growth and a surge in confidence, and view it is a blessing. I also assist the Wolverinz which is a martial arts and leadership program for kids and see real progress with the students too. I'm happy these kids are learning skills that could improve their lives the way that training has helped me, and I urge parents to enroll their children in something that teaches them how to stick up for themselves, and instill in them that they are worth fighting for--what a great gift for a child to receive at such an impressionable age!

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