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Time to talk about trashing the trash talk

A Message from John MacPhee, Executive Director of The Jed Foundation As part of National Bullying Prevention Month, we've been working with several partners to help educate and empower everyone to commit to actions that will help prevent bullying and create more inclusive communities. Our partnership with House Party has been a special one because it's our first effort through the Love is Louder movement that targets parents. I've spent a lot of time talking and thinking about bullying this month, both as the Executive Director of The Jed Foundation and as a parent of two teenage girls. One of the things I've come to realize is how easy it is to think of bullying as someone else's problem. We hear about the extreme cases of violence or harassment on TV and wonder how people can treat each other so badly. But the research we released with Harlequin Teen this month shows that hitting, shoving and physical abuse might not be the most painful parts of bullying. Our respondents said that emotional and verbal bullying are much more painful. Most agreed that gossiping is definitely a form of bullying, but 30% of those who said they hadn't bullied admitted to gossiping.

Perhaps we've become so desensitized to our name-calling, gossip-driven pop culture, that it doesn't feel like we are hurting anyone...even though we ourselves have been hurt by similar behaviors. Through media and our own personal actions, are we making certain types of bullying ok?

You know the saying "actions speak louder than words?" Well, in this case, our words may speak louder than our words. If we discourage gossiping and name-calling, but participate in those things ourselves, what message are we sending? So, as we wrap-up this month-long focus on bullying, I hope you'll remember the three things that you can do now and on an ongoing basis to prevent our teens and college students from feeling mistreated and alone.

Watch your words:

There's always room for improvement when it comes to how we treat other people. Join me in making a commitment to refrain from spreading rumors, verbally judging or labeling people, or lashing out in anger. Adults curbing the trash talk won't make bullying go away, but it is a step towards creating a culture where it isn't OK to use our words in ways that hurt people.

Talk about it:

Talk about this issue with your children. The best way to start the discussion might be to ask him or her to talk about a time someone made them feel bad with their words or actions. Perhaps your whole family can take an inventory together of things you can do to prevent others from feeling mistreated and helping others in your school or community feel more accepted and supported. It's better to have a positive conversation about how we can use our actions instead of just scolding for hurtful behaviors after-the-fact. Remember, we don't always understand that we have the power to hurt people seriously. Sometimes it takes remembering how words have caused us pain to think more carefully about how our words impact others.

Get involved:

The Love is Louder than Bullying Parent's Party Guide we developed wasn't just intended for October - you can use it anytime. Helping your children get involved with Love is Louder is a great way to expose them to positive actions that help others and give them a sense of purpose. Through Love is Louder, The Jed Foundation is committed to learning more about the behaviors and situations that make our children feel mistreated, alone or hopeless, and identifying ways we can use technology and grassroots efforts to prevent that pain and make our teenagers and college students feel more connected and supported. You can also get involved with this work by making a tax-deductible donation now.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']#[/author_image] [author_info]John MacPhee is the Executive Director of The JED Foundation. He lives in the Upper West Side of New York City. John is a vegan who loves walking the beautiful city of New York and catching some Law & Order re-runs whenever possible. John's Party Tip: Be sure to incorporate a charitable cause into your parties and events![/author_info] [/author]

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