A new study was released regarding bullying of gay and lesbian kids and suicide. Once again, it was good to have a study to back up what we already know. Perhaps this way, people will start really paying attention to solutions.
What I want to discuss here is something that I think is key — and perhaps hopeful — in this tangled mess. It’s the power of support from a trusted adult. From the report:
However, those who had social support — “support from family and peers, meaning that the young person would say they have someone to go to when they have a tough time, someone is looking out for them” — were less likely to be suicidal, Mustanski added.
Trust needs to be built over time. All kids need to learn how to communicate and share what’s on their minds from an early age.
This is one of those tangled strings we can untangle if we just take the time to think about it. Raising awareness in kids and parents from Pre-K will help them in middle and high school with communication and trust. This is not to say that they won’t go through the surly pre-teen and teen years but it will be easier to understand the concept of going to someone when they need help.
In middle and high school, it’s even more important for adults to ignore annoying behavior and step in to ask if a child is ok. Ask and then listen. Advice may not be as important as sympathy.
Even as adults, when we suffer in silence, bad things happen. Our judgement is clouded. Our emotions run high and we go to a darker place. When someone else seems to care, it’s like magic. The load gets lighter, the spirits get lifted and the power returns.
Kathryn Otoshi, the author of One, and I have talked about this gap. It’s the gap of the trusted adult. If the advice we’re giving to kids is to “go tell a trusted adult,” and they don’t have one in their lives, where does that leave them? Worse off than they were before.
(We came up with the Be the One Go-To Adult certificate and letter for elementary schools. They’re free and downloadable.)
Any other ideas out there on how to inspire parents, teachers, coaches, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends to be that Go-To Adult? Would love to hear about them and share the ideas, tools, books, etc. on this site.
Thanks — and now go listen to a kid today! You never know what’s going on inside and you might be their lifeline today.